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Motor vehicle recalls

You may have seen news reports about General Motors recalling 1.6 million cars[i] back in February because of a faulty ignition switch. Investigations indicate that when the ignition switch on these cars is jostled, it can disable the airbag and turn off the engine, even when the car is travelling at a high rate of speed. GM has come under fire because it looks like GM may have known about the problem as early as 2001 but is only now issuing a recall.

What is a recall?

A recall is an announcement by either a manufacturer or by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that:

· A motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (including tires) does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, or

· There is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment.

How do I find out if my vehicle has been recalled?

Ideally, you will be notified by mail that your vehicle has been recalled. However, if you want to check for yourself, there are several ways to find out:

1. Contact the NHTSA: You can call 1-888-327-4236 or 1-800-424-9393 to receive recall information about a vehicle. Persons with hearing impairments can call 1-800-424-9153. Or you can go to the NHTSA's website at www.safercar.gov

2. Contact the manufacturer.

3. Contact your dealer.

You will probably want to have your auto's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and write it down. Your VIN is the 17-digit code generally printed at the bottom corner of your vehicle's dash on the driver's side.

What happens if my car has been recalled?

It depends on the defect. The law gives the manufacturer three options:

· repair the vehicle at no charge

· replace the vehicle with an identical or similar vehicle

· refund the purchase price in full (minus depreciation)


[i] Ignition switch recall vehicles include:

• 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt

• 2007 Pontiac G5

• 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR SUV

• 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice

• 2007 Saturn Sky

• 2003-2007 Saturn Ion

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