I mentioned the other day that I had to make an appointment to get a recall taken care of. My car is almost ten years old and my friend was surprised that I'm even bothering when my car is destined for replacement within a few months.

But recalls are important. It doesn't mean the whole car needs replacement, but it does mean that something, within that make, model, and year has a safety related issue (or could) or it doesn't comply with a federal safety standard. When this happens, the automaker alerts owners to the problem and offers a free repair to take care of it.

You are supposed to get a letter - it's required of the dealership where you bought the car. However, things happen in the years of car ownership. You might not be the original purchaser, or you might have moved, and the letter didn't follow you. It's a good idea, if any of these situations apply, to stay up to date by checking the NHTSA's website.

Your letter will tell you what the problem is, the risk or hazard, potential warning signs, how the manufacturer will fix the problem and instructions telling you what to do next. Generally, you're told to call the dealership and set up an appointment. IMPORTANT: if the recall has to do with tires, you only have sixty days from the notification to get it taken care of for free.

A RECALL SERVICE SHOULD ALWAYS BE PROVIDED AT NO COST TO YOU.  You will need to take your car to the dealer (since they're the one dealing with the manufacturer). To avoid complications, it's a good idea to bring your letter with you.

Never ignore a recall, no matter how minor it may seem or whatever your plans for the car might be. If you're stuck on a waiting list for a part, your dealership will work with you to make sure that you are taken care of. This is one area where you don't want to procrastinate.

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