Don’t ignore recall notices, your car may be too dangerous to drive

May 24, 2023, 5:33 PM

Recall car...

KIA and Hyundai have had recalls because of fire risk. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

If you receive a recall notice for your car, don’t ignore it – it may be too dangerous to drive.

Every year CarFax looks at recalls and this time the company decided to do something different. There are two types of recalls CarFax wants you to be aware of: Do Not Drive and Park Outside.

“What [Do Not Drive] means is the automaker and the federal government say literally park the car,” CarFax Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen said. “We’ll get a tow truck. We will take it to a dealership, get it fixed for free, and bring it back to you for parking outside. Not only do they not want you to park it inside your garage, but they also don’t want you to park it next to your garage. Frankly if you could park it away from any building, that would be best because the chance of fire is so high that there could be tragic consequences.”

Olsen shared that there are more than 200 models and 50 million cars on the road with a recall notice. But for the categories of ‘Do Not Drive’ and ‘Park Outside’, there are two and a half million across the country — 53,000 in Washington state and 31,000 in the Seattle area alone.

“Multiple autos from multiple models going back years as far as 2000 and 2001, all the way up to current day models,” Olsen said.

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“On the Do Not Drive, Takata airbags are well known. So that particular recall that has several Do Not Drive recalls associated with it, affects 19 different automakers. So, brands like Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC — just really a wide swath of automakers.”

As an example, “The average age of a car on U.S. roads today is 12.5 years. And so that means, we are in a second, third, fourth, fifth owner at that point, and with a pandemic, there’s been a lot of mobility out there, right?  A lot of people have changed where they live, and that makes it even harder to track down. Finally, the reality is that automakers must use first-class mail to notify consumers of recalls. And that is not the primary means of communication it once was.”

Olsen said the best thing to do is to educate yourself. Go to CarFax and enter your license plate information and CarFax will tell you for free with no obligation whether you have an unfixed recall.

“If you want to check things down the road, download the Carfax Car Care app — again totally free — you can’t buy anything in it,” he said. “But you register your car there and you put in the VIN and for as long as you own that car no matter where you live in Washington, we will tell you if there’s been a new record issued for your car. They could come a year from now, five years from now, eight years from now, but we will keep track of that for you so that you don’t have to keep checking every month.”

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Don’t ignore recall notices, your car may be too dangerous to drive