It is possible that as many as 1 in 4 cars on Ontario roads have
an issue serious enough to warrant a manufacturer recall. Some of
these issues are little more than annoyances while others are
life-threatening. But what is a recall? If your car has been
recalled and you didn't get the word, how much danger might you
be in? And what should you do?
Product recalls affecting cars have existed for decades.
Most car recalls, however, are not for life-threatening
problems, and even those that tend to affect relatively few people.
Any car is a complicated piece of machinery, and the series of
circumstances needed to cause the fault for which the car has been
recalled can be quite specific. As a result, even a serious known
issue may only affect 1 in 2000 drivers. That said, particularly in
cases of life-threatening issues, this still leaves drivers with a
potential time bomb under their hood, and it is always better to be
safe than sorry.
What does a recall mean?
Despite the image of cars being collected up and locked away by
the manufacturer, the reality is far more mundane. When a car has
been recalled, if you are a registered owner of the model in
question (such as having bought the car new from a dealership), you
will receive a letter informing you of the nature of the problem,
and the recall. You then bring the car to the dealership, where the
defective part is replaced or repaired at the manufacturer's
expense. If the problem is so severe that your car should not be
driven at all, the dealer should provide a loaner vehicle until
your car has been repaired.
If you bought your car second-hand, or it was given to you by a
family member, or you moved and the dealership no longer has your
current address, you might not receive the letter informing you of
the recall. If this is the case, there are resources available.
Transport Canada provides the Motor Vehicles Safety Recalls Database, where
you can look up the make and model of your car, and see if there
are any recalls for it.
While there are dangerous and even scandalous faults that have
resulted in vehicle recalls, most are quite ordinary and unlikely
to affect you even if you are driving one of the recalled vehicles.
However, it is always better to be safe than sorry, and if you
might be driving one of the many vehicles on Ontario's roads
that have been subject to recall, you should check the Motor
Vehicles Safety Recalls Database, take your car to the nearest
dealership, and get it repaired.
The recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in BMW Financial Services Canada, a Division of BMW Canada Inc. v. McLean provides some useful insight into the relationship between automobile dealers and the financing arms of the manufacturers for whom those dealers are franchisees.
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