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How to deal with vehicle recalls

47 million cars on roads with open recalls

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Right now car dealers all over the country are working fast to keep up with the growing number of recalls.

We've seen so many. In fact, according to Carfax, at this very moment there are more than 47 million cars on the road with open recalls. That's up 27 percent from last year.

Stephanie Erdman lost part of her eyesight when a faulty airbag fired shards of sharp metal into her face.

"I had a piece of metal slice from my right nasal bridge all the way to my right eyebrow," she said.

The point is, with one in every five cars on the road now part of an open recall, car owners want these problems fixed quickly.

So what do you do if your car is suddenly recalled? How do you proceed to get the repair made as soon as possible?

Here are four key steps that can be taken.

Step No. 1: Read the recall notice carefully.

You will actually receive two notices. The first is simply an interim notice telling you a recall involving your car is coming, but not directing you to do anything yet. At this point, you are just being put on notice.

The second letter that arrives is the actual recall notice and it will come with a recall number printed on the letter. Now it is time to take action.

"The key letter is the recall letter," dealership owner James Davis said. "It will have an official recall number printed on it, and when you get this letter you should call your dealer right away to schedule an appointment. Do not just show up at your dealer's car lot. You need an appointment."

Step No. 2: Schedule the repair and confirm your dealer has the parts.

"You want to confirm that they have the part you need for your car, that they have that part in stock," Davis said. "You should ask how long the repair will take. It could be as fast as 30 minutes, it could take hours."

Step No. 3: If you've been waiting months and can't get an appointment, bypass the dealer and go to the manufacturer.

At this point, you need to call the manufacturer's Customer Care Line. Every car company has one and it will be an 800 number.

Davis said the manufacturer will contact your dealer after your call and insist the dealer contact you.

Step No. 4: If you still get no action, file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you find you are being blown off by both the dealer and the manufacturer, Davis said you need to file an official complaint with NHTSA.

You can also find out if your car is part of an open recall by going to the website and entering your vehicle's VIN number, which is located at the bottom of your windshield on the driver's side of the car.