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Do Car Recalls Expire? 2022

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Every year, millions of cars are called back by their manufacturers for repairs or replacements. This process is known as recalls, a term people in the industry are well familiar with.

Although annoying and time-consuming, recalls serve an important function in maintaining safety for the end-users as they help avoid dangerous accidents.

This brings up the question, do car recalls expire after a set amount of time, or is the recall valid in perpetuity. The short answer is yes; recalls can expire. However, it depends on a number of factors, and the process is far from simple.

In case this has you scratching your head, don’t worry! This article will go into the details of how the recall process works and in what circumstances, if any, it can expire.

Why Do Car Companies Sometimes Recall Their Products?

The first thing you may be wondering about is why car companies go through the process of recalling hundreds of thousands, if not millions of vehicles. After all, it seems like a logistical nightmare, not to mention the extreme costs involved.

For this reason, recalls are generally a measure of last resort used by car companies when a safety flaw has been found in their vehicles after they have already been sold.

These defects can come in a few forms; sometimes, there is a design mistake that only gets discovered after the sale. Other times, a part is found to have a frequent rate of failure or even be defective altogether.

All these issues can severely compromise the reliability and safety of the vehicle. Due to this fact, governments all around the world mandate that car companies must recall their vehicles if such a fault is discovered. If car companies fail to comply, they face prosecution at the hands of regulators as well as court cases by regular clients.

What to Expect from A Recall

Now we know what recalls are and why they happen; the next question to look at is what happens after a recall? This can usually go one of a few ways.

The most common outcome is that the car will be taken back by the company for a little time. During this time, your car will undergo repairs and further testing to ensure that it is safe for you to drive when you get it back. In most cases, the company will also offer a temporary car to you on loan. Although, this is not universally the case.

Another outcome is that the company will offer you a replacement car instead of the one you purchase. This sometimes happens if the design flaw is insurmountable, and the company decides to decommission the model instead.

Finally, in some instances, instead of a free repair or replacement car, the company will offer you a refund. This can be annoying sometimes, especially if you waited a long time to get a specific model. However, it may be inevitable if the car cannot be fixed and no replacements are available.

How to Find Out About A Recall

Generally speaking, recalls are major events, and you might even hear about your car model being recalled on the news. Sometimes, however, only a few of the vehicles are affected, so it does not reach the headlines.

In these cases, you will have to rely on alternative channels of communication to be informed about your recall status. The company might email you information about the recall if you provided them with your email ID at the time of purchase.

Another common method employed by most companies is simply calling their customers on the phone and informing them of the recall. This, however, may be easy to miss, particularly if you do not pick up calls from unknown numbers.

Finally, you will also receive information in the mail that your car has been recalled. This method is the slowest owing to the nature of mail. However, as long as you have updated your mailing address, it should be hard to miss.

Do Car Recalls Ever Expire?

Generally, if you find out your car has been recalled, you should get it back to the dealership as soon as possible. After all, it poses a risk to anyone sitting in it because a serious safety flaw has been found.

Sometimes, however, you may not be able to get the car back to the dealership within a quick time frame. Alternatively, you may have bought the car only to discover that it had been recalled months or even years ago.

Fortunately, recalls do not expire for a very long time. In the US, for example, regulations state that the manufacturer owes you repairs for up to 15 years from the time when the flaw was discovered. One thing to note, however, is that this may be different in other countries as regulations vary throughout the world.

In case you discover that the car is recalled after the expiry of the recall, your options may be limited. However, it is recommended that you still try asking the company whether the recall is valid anyways. They may be willing to offer it to you, although this is unlikely.

There are some instances in which the validity of the recall may even be infinite. This is not always the case, but when the problem is extremely serious, like a seat belt issue, the company may offer you a free repair even after the recall has technically expired.

If a recall is not available, it is highly recommended that you seek to get the car repaired by yourself. This is for the simple reason that no amount of money is worth compromising on you and your loved ones’ safety.


The recall process can be rather inconvenient and even confusing, especially since it is not a standardized process across different countries.

Fortunately, however, there are plenty of resources available on the internet (just like this one) to help you through the process. We hope that your recall has not yet expired and wish you the best of luck claiming it. Drive safe!

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