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Keeping your car clean and safe is a top priority. While Rio Car Wash keeps your automobile in spotless condition, there are other factors to take into consideration for the well-being of your car. If you own an automobile, chances are you’ve received an auto recall notice at one time or another — or you will in the future. It’s just a fact of life for motorists. But there’s no need to be alarmed. Auto recalls happen for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are not cause for worry.

Some auto recalls result in dramatic public reactions because they involve best-selling vehicles that, historically speaking, are considered extremely reliable. But despite quality control and strict pre-production testing, things do go wrong.

Since 1966, when the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was implemented, manufacturers have recalled millions of vehicles to fix safety defects. Yet there have been many other recalls to correct items unrelated to safe operation, such as cosmetic repairs or emissions control system upgrades.

The important thing to know is that just because you receive a recall notice, it doesn’t mean your car is about explode, break down or kill you. In fact, you might never experience a problem at all.

But you do want to act upon and follow the instructions outlined in the notice, which should arrive by mail from the manufacturer. This involves making an appointment with the dealership and having the part replaced or repaired free of charge. By law, any authorized car dealership selling that model car is required to do the repair for free. If your dealer refuses, or you encounter any difficulties, call the number provided on the official notice.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. If your car is more than 10 years old, the dealership is not obligated to make the repair for free. And if you had the car fixed before the recall was issued, the manufacturer isn’t obligated to reimburse you.

If you read or hear that there’s been a recall, but you haven’t been notified, it’s because the manufacturer can’t find you. Call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hotline at (888) 327-4236 and ask about your situation. On that note, it’s important that your state motor vehicle records are updated because that’s how manufacturers find the registered owner.

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website (nhtsa.gov) for more information and a list of recalls, defects and complaints.