Check For Safety Recalls On Your Vehicle


How do you know whether a safety recall has been issued for your US car/truck/van? You may think the manufacturer will notify you – but that may not happen in a timely fashion, especially if

  • you have moved since purchasing
  • you don’t get your vehicle serviced at a dealer
  • you bought the vehicle used

And even if you are correctly registered in the manufacturer’s database, how long will it take them to actually send you a notice?

Here’s my example of what can happen, and how you can check your own vehicle’s status:

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Dealing With The Insurer’s Authorized Repair Shop

If you have been following my articles about dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident you know that I got my car back from the repair shop late last week and had some issues with how it was running.

After the accident I had the choice to go either to a shop on the auto insurer’s recommended list, or to a shop of my choice. The difference was that

– the recommended shops agreed to charge no more than the repair amount approved by the insurer after appraisal (and would be paid directly).

– going to a non-recommended shop meant the insurer would send me a check for the appraised repair amount, I would have no guarantee the shop would accept that as payment in full, plus if they uncovered additional damage while repairing it I would need to get an additional appraisal and another check, delaying full repairs.

Given the extent of the damage to my front end

Car damage

I decided to go with an insurer-authorized shop run by a major (though not Subaru) dealer a mile from my house since I didn’t want the hassle of taking responsibility for coordinating with the high probability of additional damage being discovered after only a visual assessment.

Also, I had damage from a minor accident several months ago for which I had claimed and received a check but had not bothered to repair yet since it was not impairing the car’s functions – this seemed like a good time to have that done as well since they would not charge more than the ¬†appraisal (though I would need to pay it since I had been paid by the insurer).

Here are some things I learned from the experience:  Continue reading

Quick Tip: The Computer In Your Car

Starting around 1996, our automobiles entered the computer age. Sensors and microprocessors took up the task of monitoring, and in some cases adjusting, many of the functions of the engine, brakes, and other components that previously acted only as set by a manual tool and whose failure only became evident when the car stopped working.

This new electronic monitoring system also changed the way in which periodic state inspections for safety and emissions are done. Whereas previously the garage would stick a hose up the tailpipe to suck in fumes and analyse it for pollution, then visually inspect the lights, turn signals, etc., now much of that information can be transferred digitally from the car computer’s memory via a data port. With the right tool you can access much of this data yourself – for instance, I have a device from Automatic Labs that stays plugged into my car’s data port and communicates to my iPhone via Bluetooth!

All of this is great… until something happens to your car’s battery:
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The Paperwork Aftermath of an Auto Accident

Recently I was involved in an auto accident – fortunately I wasn’t seriously hurt, and my car is being repaired:

Car damage

But besides being without my car for a couple weeks, the most annoying aspect of this experience is the paperwork involved!

Here are some tips based on what I’ve been doing. Some of this communication may come to you automatically, but depending on your situation you may want to be proactive about obtaining or reaching out to various involved parties in order to avoid later complications.

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