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Auto recalls may not be early warnings for California consumers

While many people in Los Angeles have embraced nontraditional forms of transportation, plenty of Californians still own cars and trucks. Vehicles are not inexpensive but to many of us, they are invaluable. We depend upon them to take us everywhere we want to go.

You expect a car to be built well and perform safely. Vehicle defects aren't top-of-mind concerns. Sometimes, you don't find out a vehicle is dangerous to drive until others – sometimes many others -- have been injured or killed in accidents. Recalls are one way unnecessary harm is prevented.

Recalls don't occur the moment a single complaint is filed with a carmaker or federal transportation authorities. It can take years for an automaker to acknowledge a vehicle defect. Red flags are thrown when there are a slew of product liability claims or government investigations and warnings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An auto defect may violate standards set by federal regulations, include faulty auto parts vital to a vehicle's operation or contain flaws in crash protection devices. The majority of recalled are initiated by car manufacturers but like other product makers, automakers aren't in business to lose money.

Manufacturers hesitate to admit they've produced a defective product. A recall means a vehicle manufacturer must bear the considerable cost of fixing a problem, replacing a vehicle or refunding a customer's money. A recall also could prompt new liability litigation and drive customers away indefinitely.

Who would value company profits over the safety of human lives? Unfortunately, some carmakers knowingly sell faulty vehicles or hide defects until public, legal and government pressure forces a recall. Consumers can monitor vehicle recalls through the NHTSA website.

Compensation for medical costs and earnings losses may be available for people who've been injured by defective vehicles. Families of relatives killed in crashes, involving poorly made vehicles, also may file legal claims.

Source: FindLaw, "Auto Recalls: The Basics" Oct. 01, 201

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