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How to Ensure Your Used Car Has Received its Necessary Recall Repairs

by Hector Meyer

Recalls are fairly common in the vehicle manufacturing world, with problems ranging from minor inconveniences to life-threatening dangers, like exploding airbags. If you're shopping for a used car, you might be wondering how to navigate these recalls and determine if the vehicle you're interested in has been subject to any, and if so, whether or not it's been repaired. Any reputable online car dealer website should provide this information to you—it's just a matter of knowing what to look for. Read on to learn more about how to discover this information while shopping online.

Dealer Policy

As stated, any reliable car dealership will note whether or not a car has been subject to recall on its sale page. Check your dealer's policy and terms and conditions on the website for more information. The policy or terms and conditions should show you exactly where the information will be listed on an individual car listing should the car have been subjected to recalls of any kind. Ideally, you want the information to state not only if the car has been subjected to recall in the past, but if it has been serviced to meet the recall, and when.

Research Vehicle

If you can't easily find the information you're looking for on your car dealership's site, there is another method you can use. The U.S. government provides a website that allows you to research specific makes and models of vehicles to determine if they've been recalled in the past. You can keep the website open in a separate tab of your web browser to cross-reference any vehicles you're interested in. If you find a vehicle that you'd like to buy and the recall website notes that it has been subject to recall in the past, but you can't find information on the website regarding whether or not it's been fixed, proceed to the next step.

Talk to Dealer

Your dealer should provide a way for you to communicate directly with a human being via the internet or phone. Look for a contact page and then explain your situation, detailing which vehicle you're interested in and what the recall website says the vehicle needed fixed. Your dealer should be able to provide you with an answer, but you can also ask for a VIN number.

VIN numbers identify vehicles individually, and can be entered into the recall page to determine right away whether or not they've been properly serviced.

Keep in mind that in some cases, the dealer may not have had the car serviced yet, but will be willing to do so prior to selling it to you. If a VIN lookup or the information the dealer gives you reveals that your car hasn't been serviced, don't give up on buying it. Just communicate with your dealer what your concerns are and that you want the vehicle to be repaired prior to purchasing it.