Why You Should Check If There's a Recall On Your Car

Neatoramanaut Zavatone, spell checker extraordinaire and all-round good guy wrote me about his recent misadventure involving his car, electrical short, fire, and halon fire extinguisher:

Today, I had the pleasure of venturing back, driving from building to building, taking care of this and that and finally was ready to sit down and get to work with one of my coworkers when a frightened friend of mine ran into our cube and hurriedly stated "black Audi A6 out front?"

Now, I should stop right there, leaving you to guess at all my potential replies, but that would be mean and since it would be mean to be mean after a Monday like I just had, I just won't do that.

Simply, calmly and with refined grace I replied, "yes?" After which I kindly tilted my ear to hear his response which was, "It's on FIRE."

Chaos rapidly ensued involving lots of running and glorious clouds of halon*.

Suffice it to say, that my car (while innocuously parked in the OFF position) decided that it no longer approved of its left headlight assembly and proceeded, with sole intent, to burn it off the face of this planet. While this determined vehicle was partially successful, the two of us chaotic running people had to take it upon ourselves to ruin its fun with ample amounts of halon while the rest of the office stood way too close behind us, obviously cheering our efforts or chanting for our demise.

While we did win (I think), this inconvenience certainly dampened my goal of uneventful productivity for the day, but I did learn one thing. That thing is to remember to check if the model of car you drive has any recalls issued by the factory for reasons of "electrical system will likely catch on fire while you are trying to work."

Check your car to see if there are any pending recalls on it. Please.

Thanks Zavatone!

Note by Alex: *That's not halon, which has fallen out of favor because of cost and environmental concern (the bromine in halon depletes ozone layer). It is no longer produced in the United States as of 1993. Halon doesn't leave residue. Zavatone probably used a regular dry chemical fire extinguisher. Still, his point remains valid.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a webpage where you can check if there's a recall on your car.

2001 A6. Hopefully, it's just the left headlight assembly area that's turned to cinders. Good thing it didn't happen in the other building's garage or anywhere where people couldn't see it and where we didn't have an extinguisher. There may be a light at the end of this tunnel, we shall see.

And thanks JC. I have striven (strove?) to be a favorite meta-thing for much of my adult life. All 47 minutes of it. And in the spirit of being all meta, let's feed the snarling kitty:

or maybe take a nice drive in the country?

I just gotta laugh at the toasted Audi. The universe toys with me, yet I feign death.
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Is there a system in the US to write to owners of cars under recall? In the UK the makers buy the list from the DVLA and write to all registered owners - though you can check individually if you wish. This is for major recalls - I don't think they bother with minor stuff.
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Nice post, this is not a very good example of where my comment is going to, but there is also a rumor that car manufacturers now do these recalls to stimulate sales, I believe it was toyota where they saw a increase in sales due to a recall.
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Here is a question for any of you to answer.
If you check the database and see there are recalls on your particular car but you bought the car used how do you find out if any of the issues have been fixed or not?
My car had 6 different recalls though it seems a majority of them were the same part just made by different manufacturers.
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Scotchdrnkr: call the number given in the recall notice or call a dealer of your car's brand asking for the recalls and the resolutions on them. All you care about is "should you bring your car in"?
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My car has had 6 recalls, only two of which applied to my particular model, one applying to manifold design and one to ignition switch design, both caused trapping of debris which may cause a fire. I elected not ot get it fixed. Why? Well, I have a sneaky suspicion that dealers (or maybe just the mechanics there) do things which cause further repairs to be necessary.

anyway, my solution is to just keep an eye on those things to make sure dirt and junk aren't trapped. I would say the best thing you can do is learn regular maintenance that you can do yourself. It'll add years to the life of your car.
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This reminds me of my friends Audi S4. She happened to sit on her scarf in her car, turned on the seat warmers, and started to smell something burning. She soon realized the seat warmer was burning a hole through the seat and her scarf!

The dealership covered the costs of repairs.
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