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What’s the Process for Reporting a Defective Vehicle or Part?

Published: May 16, 2022 in Car Accidents
Woman with broken down car calling for help

Defective products cause millions of injuries per year. While most faulty products don’t cause anything except some annoyance and inconvenience, some cause life-changing accidents and injuries. Faulty cars and vehicle components can leave customers with severe or fatal injuries.

What to Do When You Find a Defective Vehicle Component

The process of reporting a defective part is straightforward. It goes through the Office of Defects Investigation, which is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

They collect reports, determine whether an investigation is necessary, investigate reports, and ultimately recall vehicle components.

Information Needed for a Recall

There are two ways to report faulty car parts. To start, make sure you have this information readily available:

  • The make and model of your vehicle
  • The model year of your car
  • The component that is malfunctioning or defective
  • Your vehicle’s VIN
  • How the failure occurred and what happened after the part malfunctioned
  • Any repairs or replacements made to the vehicle after the defect was discovered
  • Injuries or deaths caused by the malfunction

You can call the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline if you want to report by phone. Their number is 888-327-4236. You can give your report directly to someone.

You’ll need to provide contact information, but that information is stripped from the report before it is made publicly available. You can also fill out the form online.

How Reporting Faulty Parts Helps You & Other Consumers

You may wonder if one report can make a difference. The NHTSA gathers these reports and uses them to determine whether a recall is necessary. If your report is part of a pattern, it may indicate to the NHTSA that further investigation is needed.

By making this information available to the NHTSA, you could get unsafe cars off the road, help consumers get free necessary repairs, and assist those who have suffered severe injuries because of a defective car part.

Your Next Steps After Making Your Report

After your report is received, the NHTSA adds it to a database that tracks trends across vehicles of different makes, models, and model years. Motorists use this database to figure out if there is an issue with their vehicle, even if a component has not been recalled.

Upon screening reports, the NHTSA will look at petitions asking them to investigate specific defects. They will then investigate chosen defects to determine whether a recall is necessary and conduct an engineering analysis. They are extremely thorough with their investigations, so don’t expect immediate action on your report.

If they determine a recall is necessary, they will start the recall process.

What Happens When a Part is Recalled?

When the NHTSA decides that a car or component poses an unreasonable safety risk or does not meet minimum safety standards, they conduct a recall. However, this isn’t how most recalls happen. The manufacturer does most recalls voluntarily when they see a flurry of defect reports.

The recall process generally involves getting the part repaired or replaced at the manufacturer’s expense at an approved service center. However, they can also offer a refund for the defective component or purchase the vehicle from the consumer.

If the recall is initiated by the NHTSA, the manufacturer is responsible for announcing the recall, notifying as many customers as possible, and fixing the defect.

Call Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. Today

Have you suffered injuries because of a defective car part? You shouldn’t be left covering medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses on your own.

Start the process for recovering compensation now by reaching out to the team at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. Our team of defective product attorneys is ready to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.