According to a recent study from Carfax, approximately one in four Americans is currently driving a vehicle that has an open recall. This means that there are about 63 million cars on the road that are somehow defective and potentially unsafe. And this represents a 34 percent increase over last year.

The main problem is that drivers are simply ignoring safety recall notices. After all, the information is out there. Car owners typically receive individual notifications from the manufacturers. If these are lost or accidentally thrown away, updated recall lists are always available. In fact, anyone can visit to view the latest safety recalls for nearly every type of product on the market.

Reasons Why Consumers May Ignore Safety Recall Notices

safety recall, vehicle safety
Unfixed vehicle recalls are a problem throughout the country, but this is a bigger issue in some states than in others. In Texas, about one in three vehicles on the road has an unfixed safety recall, which is the highest rate in the nation.

The other eight states with the highest rates of open recalls are (in order):

  • Hawaii
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Alabama
  • California
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York

Because it is unlikely that car owners actually want to put themselves and their passengers at risk, there must be other reasons why they don't address vehicle recalls in a timely manner. These may include the following:

  • They don't take the recall notice seriously. As the auto blog, Jalopnik, humorously points out, a safety recall notification may look like a piece of junk mail. So, unless a consumer pays close attention, this important letter might easily get thrown out along with the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon.
  • They're too busy to take their car in for repairs. According to this same Carfax study, minivans and SUVs are the vehicles most likely to have open recalls. Of course, these are family vehicles, and busy families sometimes have trouble finding time for anything. But maybe if they were to realize that their safety is on the line, they would make time for recalls.
  • They don't understand that small problems can lead to big issues. Even if a driver looks at a recall notice, they may convince themselves that the defective part in question really isn't a big deal. However, all vehicle parts are connected in some way. So, a car really isn't safe to drive if something isn't functioning as it should.

Keeping Up with and Addressing Vehicle Safety Recalls

In 2015, there were a total of 51.2 million vehicles affected by 868 separate recalls, and these numbers are expected to climb. Therefore, if you're a car buyer in the U.S., there’s a good chance that your car will be included in a recall, if it hasn't been already.

Obviously, you should be on the lookout for notifications about recalls that might come in the mail. But it's even better to be proactive. Taking a few minutes to scan the Motor Vehicle Equipment Recalls page at is a good practice. This way, you won't have to rely on getting a piece of mail in order to find out that your car has been recalled.

Finally, even if you're busy, you should take the time to address any and every recall notice that concerns your vehicle. Even if it seems like a minor thing, your safety might depend on whether or not the recall is completed.

Speaking of repairs, any work that is done on a car due to a recall shouldn't cost you anything. And if you ever have any questions about a recall notice on your vehicle, you should call the closest dealership that specializes in selling your brand.

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