Car Safety Recalls

When buying a new car the last thing most of us are likely to be thinking about is the possibility of a factory recall.

But every year manufacturers and dealers recall almost one million cars so they can carry out additional safety checks or recertification work under the official vehicle safety recall scheme.

The Vehicle Safety Branch of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) work with vehicle and component manufacturers and the DVLA to ensure the recall scheme runs smoothly while the vehicle safety defects and recalls code of practice ensures that the recall process is initiated when a potential safety issue is detected in any vehicle on the UK market.   

As you would expect, the recall scheme covers most vehicle types, including commercial and passenger cars, buses, motorbikes, three-wheeled vehicles, coaches and caravans. The most common causes of recalls have been brake issues, fuel problems, malfunctioning airbags and seatbelts, steering faults and potential fire risks. 

Buying a used car

When you purchase a used car from a reputable dealer they will have checked the model has not been recalled, but you may want to double check just in case. 

If you’re buying from a private seller, you should always check for outstanding recalls. Checking if a car has been recalled is simple – you’ll need the make and model of the vehicle as well as the date of manufacture. Then all you need to do is visit: and follow the easy steps. 

Don’t rely on an MOT to tell you if your vehicle has been recalled

It’s not the tester’s responsibility to check if your vehicle has been recalled, so you shouldn’t rely on them to tell you. 

The recall notice 

Recalls aren’t limited to new cars and can happen at any time. If you own a car that has been recalled you should receive a notification in the post. 

This notice will tell you what the defect is and what can happen if you don’t follow the instructions outlined. The notice will tell you what needs to be done to fix the fault and it will also tell you what you need to do. 

The manufacturer that initiates the recall reports response rates to the DVSA and the recall stays open indefinitely. The recall work should be done free of charge regardless of how long you take to respond. However, due to the safety aspect of recalls, it’s a good idea to act quickly.  

What to do if you receive a recall notice 

When you receive a recall notice, don’t panic. The fault could be fairly minor and may be quite easy to fix, but even if the problem isn’t immediately life threatening, you should get it sorted as soon as possible as you could be committing an offence by driving a defective vehicle.   

If you receive a notice after you’ve sold the vehicle in question you should inform the DVLA that you are no longer the registered keeper. 



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