Consumer Alert: Backordered parts complicate car recall fixes

Posted: Updated:

Fixing a car that has a recall out against it should be easy. But some recalled parts may make things a bit more complicated.

Alexis Rodrigues says that she received a recall notice last year that her Ford Edge was one of millions of vehicles with air bags that could explode. But the dealer told her that her replacement parts would not be available for months.

“I can’t use the car as a family car because I’m afraid for my children’s safety,” she says.

Trinity Wixner says that her Dodge Challenger was recalled due to an alternator problem. At the time, Fiat Chrysler said that there was no fix available.

Consumer advocate Mike Sacks says that backordered parts are often the issue to delay fixing a recalled vehicle.

“Anytime there’s a recalled part and you get a letter saying this could cause serious danger - and they don’t have the part, you need to take action,” he says.

Sacks advises writing a certified letter to the manufacturer, explaining that you don’t feel safe driving the car. You can then ask them to provide a loaner or rental vehicle. If they will not agree, Sacks advises saving any receipts for out-of-pocket expenses.

If the vehicle is out of service for 20 days in New Jersey or 30 days in New York and Connecticut, the owner might be able to file a Lemon Law or warranty claim.

“If they have to use Uber or Lyft, they need to keep expense reports. They need to outline this,” says Sacks. “And then if we do have a Lemon Law or breach of warranty claim, we can use that additional data to document perhaps the value of the claim.”

Fiat Chrysler has now released a fix for the Dodge Challenger issue. As for the air bag recall – the delay in parts has gone on so long that some of the replacement parts have also been recalled.

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