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What to Do if a Recall or Service Bulletin is Issued for Your Vehicle

(LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2010) – With attention focused on Toyota and its recall of more than 8 million vehicles in the U.S., it’s easy to overlook the fact that numerous safety recalls are issued annually. 
In fact, the latest recall involves Honda Motor Co., which said this week that it will recall more than 410,000 Odyssey minivans and Element small trucks for braking problems that, if not repaired, could make it difficult to stop the vehicles.
Over time, brake pedals can feel “soft” and must be pressed closer to the floor to stop the vehicles, Honda said in a statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported three crashes due to the problem.  Honda notified NHTSA of this particular recall this week.
How to Find a Recall
How should consumers determine if a safety recall or a technical service bulletin has been issued for their car or truck?  Copy the vehicle’s make, mode, and year, along with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  Go to and start at the right hand side of the home page under “Safety Recalls” and follow the prompts until you’re asked to enter your vehicle information to find out if a recall has been announced for your car or truck.
Southern California residents can easily access recall and bulletin information on the Auto Club website’s vehicle recall page. Recall information, technical service bulletins, and defect investigations are available for each make, model and year of vehicle, according to Steve Mazor of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center.
Safety recalls are paid by the manufacturer, regardless of warranty considerations, he said, and manufacturers may voluntarily issue their own safety recalls after notifying NHTSA as Honda has just done, he added.
If there’s a safety recall for your vehicle, contact your local dealer and have the repair completed as soon as possible.  Remember to ask if you you’re entitled to a rental car while the repairs are conducted, said Mazor.  Keep a copy of the work for your repair records.  Owners who may be moving residences should notify the vehicle manufacturer by using the post card many provide in the warranty booklet or by giving the dealer the new address so notices and other information can be sent to the new home, he added.
Technical Service Bulletin
What is a technical service bulletin?  These are repairs that are recommended to correct specific vehicle problems if the vehicle exhibits the problem and consumers complain about it when they visit their dealer.  If you learn about these repairs, you can take the car or truck to the dealer and have the repairs made while the vehicle is still under warranty to cover the cost of the repairs, said Mazor. 
As your vehicle is brought in for service, ask the service advisor to check for any bulletins covering the problems you may be experiencing.  In some cases, repairs listed in the bulletin may be covered by the manufacturer “service campaign” that provides free or discounted repairs, even if the warranty has expired.
In its most recent recall, Honda has said that it encourages all owners of these vehicles to take their vehicle to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification from Honda that their vehicle is affected. Notification to customers will start at the end of April.
In addition to contacting customers by mail, after April 19, owners of these vehicles will be able to determine if their vehicle requires repair by going online or by calling (800) 999-1009, and selecting option 4.
Once owners of these vehicles receive written notification of this recall from Honda, they should contact their authorized Honda dealer to schedule an appointment for repair.
In related news regarding Toyota recalls and unintended acceleration, investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined the California Highway Patrol to determine why a 2008 Toyota Prius surged to more than 90 miles per hour on Interstate 8 in San Diego. Toyota Motor Corp. also dispatched a team of inspectors to find out why the blue Prius suddenly accelerated out of control.  Toyota said its findings, announced at a news conference this week, are at odds with the account of the driver, who was not injured in the incident and who is now speaking through an attorney.
NHTSA said that it is continuing to examine the 2008 vehicle and that testing thus far has not found the cause of the incident.
The incident involved an officer from the highway patrol who used the loudspeaker on his car to direct the 61-year-old real estate agent to operate emergency and regular brakes, then turn off the car to stop it. 
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles in the U.S. since last fall for a variety of problems, including floor mats, sticky gas pedals, steering and components.  Toyota drivers may go online for Toyota recall information or call Toyota at (800) 331-4331. Lexus recall information is also available online or by calling the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at (800) 255-3987.   
Consumers may also call the NHTSA vehicle safety hotline 1-888-327-4236 or file an online safety complaint with NHTSA.
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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.