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Vehicle Recalls, Faults, and Defects

There are responsibilities to meet if your vehicle part or accessory gets recalled. This section explains what to do about vehicle recalls and faults or defects.

VEHICLE FAULTS: It is not uncommon for vehicle manufacturers to find a serious problem with their automotive parts or accessories.

If this happens, you will need to get them replaced or fixed on things like:

  • Agricultural equipment
  • Caravans and horse boxes.
  • Cars, lorries, buses, coaches, and minibuses.
  • Child car seats, seat belts, and harnesses.
  • Motorcycles, quadricycles, and tricycles.
  • Vehicle components, parts, and tyres.

Note: You can also report a serious safety defect with your own vehicle or accessory if it could cause an injury.

Recalled Vehicles, Components, and Accessories

It may happen that your vehicle gets recalled on the grounds of safety. If so, the vehicle manufacturer will usually send you a letter with information on:

  • Why it is getting recalled.
  • What steps you should take.
  • Who to contact for further details.

Note: As a rule, the owner will not have to pay for repairs or replaced parts under a vehicle safety recall.

Checking Vehicle Recalls: Your Responsibilities

In some cases, you will not get a letter from the component manufacturer. For example, buying car child seats means they may not have your contact details. But, you can check for vehicle, part or accessory recalls made for a safety reason.

As a vehicle owner in the United Kingdom, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that it is:

  • Kept and maintained in a safe condition.
  • Safe to drive any time you take it on the roads and drive it.

In some cases, failing to get your vehicle inspected and fixed where necessary could:

  • Affect a claim made on your motor insurance policy.
  • Put you, as the driver, and other road users (including passengers) at serious risk of injury.

Note: You should never drive a vehicle if it is in a dangerous condition. Doing so can result in a fine up to £2,500, a driving ban, and 3 penalty points on your licence.

Reporting a Serious Vehicle Safety Defect

You should reports any defects you find to the manufacturer without delay. This refers to any serious defect that affects the safety of your vehicle. Thus, the same applies to any of the parts or accessories.

There are steps you can take if you are unhappy with the way the manufacturer deals with your report. You can inform the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will then:

  • Make further investigations into the issue with the manufacturer.
  • Inform you what, if any, action gets taken against them.
  • Whether the vehicle, part, or accessory will get recalled.

Note: You can fill in the form to report a Vehicle Safety Defect online to DVSA. But, the report should only relate to a ‘serious safety defect’.

As a rule, a serious safety defect would be something that:

  • Relates to the vehicle design or the way it got made that may cause injury or death.
  • Happens suddenly and without warning.

As a rule, things that would not get classed as a serious safety defect would be:

  • Those found during a routine service or maintenance program.
  • Something you get warned about by warning lights.
  • Noticeable changes in handling and unusual noises.
  • Those caused by misuse (e.g. tyre failure due to vehicle overload).

Vehicle Faults with Parts and Accessories

As a rule, vehicle design faults, or the way parts and accessories get made, must get registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Examples would be if:

  • The component could become unsafe in the future if it does not get fixed.
  • The vehicle itself, a component, or an accessory no longer meets the standard required by law.

Note: Not all faults, such as general flaws and imperfections, get registered with DVSA.

How Manufacturers Inform You about Faults

Most manufacturers try to send a letter to the owner of the faulty part informing them:

  • The nature of the fault and what steps to take.
  • Who to contact for further details.

Note: As a rule, the owner will not have to pay for fixing the fault or replacing a faulty part.

Checking Vehicle Faults: Your Responsibilities

There is no legal requirement per se to do anything about the fault if you choose not to. But, failing to fix the problem could mean:

  • That the component becomes unsafe in the near or distant future.
  • That your vehicle will fail the next MOT test.

Vehicle Recalls, Issues, and Safety Defects

You can check online to see if a vehicle, part or accessory got listed as having a registered fault. Check out the government collection titled ‘vehicle manufacturers’ non-code action bulletins‘. There is guidance and forms on vehicle recalls and safety defects. The list also includes those which could result in a safety issue.

Example 1: A vehicle may become unsafe if the manual states the wrong tyre pressure recommendation.

Example 2: A vehicle would fail its MOT if the manufacturer stamped the wrong Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on it and it did not get fixed.

Vehicle Recalls, Defects, and Faults in the United Kingdom