What A Car Recall Notice Should Look Like

What A Car Recall Notice Should Look Like

So the other day I get a mailing from a local Chevrolet dealer (actually this is like the third mailing within a year), it was made to look like a recall notice but was about a car I haven’t owned in over 10 years.


The recall is legitimate, it’s the infamous ignition issue for General Motors cars from the early 2000’s.

I owned a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu LS that was part of that recall, though it was not recalled in the time I owned the car.

I bought the car in June of 2003 from the now defunct Miller Chevrolet in south suburban Matteson and in June of 2006 the car was totaled in an accident (not my fault), in Palos Heights.

I was not injured but the car was sandwiched and took serious frontal and rear damage, the airbags deployed and it was scary but I fortunately walked away.

My insurance at the time (State Farm), wrote the car off as a total loss and the loan was paid off.

So imagine my surprise when this dealer is telling me about bringing the car in for a recall.

I initially thought it was about my 2011 Chevrolet Malibu LT but I knew its ignition was not part of the recall and then I read more closely and saw it was my old Malibu.

First thing to know about recall notices, it should come from the manufacturer of the car (in this case General Motors in Detroit) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), not from a local dealer.

Now this mailing (pictured), has the NHTSA logo on it and seems official but as someone who briefly worked sales at a car dealership before, I wonder on the motives of this.

I’ve never taken any of my cars to this dealer and never bought even a part from this dealer much less a car.

The state knows I don’t own it either, I don’t get any mail (registration, emissions, etc.), on this vehicle and in fact I never owned the vehicle at my current residence. I was living back on the southside of Chicago when I owned the vehicle.

The next thing about recalls is that the notice will never direct you to a certain dealership.

Usually your first notice is just that an advisement that the car is under recall and why. It may state for you in extreme cases to park the car (and in very rare cases outside if there is a fire threat), or that the dealer will arrange to have it towed to the dealer.

Then once parts and repair process is in place for the recall you will get a second letter stating that’s ok to bring the car in for a recall.

But for every recall I’ve ever been a part of, you had to call your dealership and make an appointment. Yes the work is free but they need to know ahead of time to schedule you in because they need to get a lot of cars in and remember they are doing free work.

I’m just leery of this and we’re talking about a car that would now be 15 years old and it had 86,000 miles on it 11 years ago. I doubt it would have lasted this long, it went through front brake pads like you wouldn’t believe and had some ongoing fuel injection problems too.

Anyway, if you ever wonder about a recall, simply Google it (the recall # if you know it), or go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website (https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls#vehicle) and enter your VIN # found on your dashbboard or on your insurance card.

Or you can visit the service department of dealer you trust and they can tell you if the car is indeed under recall.

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