What if my car has a safety defect?
Dear Driving for Dollars,
Last Saturday, my car shut off three times while I was driving in traffic. I eventually made it home and checked online for any posts on what I experienced. I found others reporting the same problem, and I also found a news article that referenced the manufacturer will be issuing a recall. The problem is that they haven't yet, and my dealer says he can do nothing until the recall is ordered. I'm terrified to drive my car. What can I do?
Recall or not, your car is unsafe to drive and the dealer has an obligation to attempt to fix it. If your car is still under the manufacturer's warranty, there should be no charge. If the car is no longer under warranty, then you may have to pay out of pocket for the fix and submit the bill to the manufacturer for reimbursement once the recall has been issued. This is one of many reasons car owners should always keep their receipts: They can get reimbursed for a repair that later is a recall, regardless of how much time has lapsed.
Because you know that a recall is forthcoming, I would call the manufacturer's toll-free customer service number listed in your owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website. Describe the problem you've experienced, reference the news article and explain that you are afraid of having an accident and do not want to drive the car. They should be able to provide authorization to your local dealer to make the repair for free or give you a loaner car at no charge until the repair can be completed. No auto manufacturer wants a lawsuit on its hands because you had a serious collision as a result of a car defect.
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