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Do Auto Recalls Matter?

More than 300,000 Honda Odyssey vans are being recalled for software problems that could affect the vehicles’ brake system, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The recall applies to Odysseys from the 2007 and 2008 model years. In some cases, a malfunction in the van’s stability control software can cause unexpected braking without triggering the brake lights, which can increase the likelihood of a rear-end crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an announcement.

To correct the problem, Odyssey owners will need to get a new sensor, but that will not be available until 2014. Honda Motor Co. is contacting owners of the affected vehicles by mail and will do it again when the parts are available.

In the meantime, drivers can contact their local Honda dealers to learn the steps to take to avoid the braking problem.

It is very important to heed recall notices from your vehicle’s manufacturer. Even though Honda has said that it is not aware of any injuries reported from the Odyssey software glitch, it also found the problem to be serious enough to make a public announcement – something that no automaker ever wants to do.  If your car manufacturer announces a voluntary recall, it’s because they know the consequences of the issue could be serious, and in some cases, even deadly vehicle accidents.

There are several ways to find out whether your car has been recalled for a defect. Given the highly publicized vehicle malfunctions affecting Toyota and Ford in recent years, many recalls make headlines.  If you hear about them in the news, definitely take steps to confirm whether the problem applies to you. Some suggestions:

  • Go online. Most manufacturers put recall announcements on their websites.
  • Call the national customer service number or your local dealer’s service department.
  • Check out NHTSA’s Recalls and Defects page.

If you are considering buying a used car, you may not know whether the vehicle is subject to any manufacturer recalls. But you’re not out of luck. Get the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN is a 17-digit code given to a specific vehicle that can be used to check its history. Use the VIN to call the car’s manufacturer to find out if it has any unfixed recalls. If you decide to purchase the car, make sure that you have those items repaired right away.

Cost should never be a concern when it comes to vehicle recalls. Auto manufacturers are legally obligated to provide you with a vehicle that is free from any recognized hazard. A recall is their way of fulfilling that objective, so any repairs should be performed at no cost to you. If you have been injured in a crash as a result of a defective automotive component, a vehicle accident lawyer can explain your legal rights. Keep in mind that may not be the case if your car’s manufacturer issues something called a technical service bulletin (TSB).

Unlike a recall, a service bulletin may be issued for a recurring problem in a vehicle, but not usually one that has a direct impact on driver or passenger safety. In those cases, dealers may still charge for repairs performed as a result of a TSB.

If your vehicle is experiencing a current or ongoing problem, it may be worthwhile to report it to the manufacturer or file a complaint with NHTSA. You may never know if your complaint will result in a recall or TSB, but then again, it could. Even better, you know that you took steps to protect your fellow motorists.