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Recall notices on "older" cars - surprising!

A month or so ago I rec’d a recall notice on my '03 Honda Civic, and a day ago a recall notice came for my '01 Toyota Sequoia. The Civic is 10 years old and the Sequoia is 12 years old. How long do manufacturers still recall their cars? It surprised me to see these old cars still being recalled!

The Civic has a possible problem with the headlight switch. I guess the headlights can go out and not sure if there is a fire hazard. This must be a safety problem.

The Sequoia is to be inspected for frame rust since I live in an area that salts the roadways in the winter. If significant rust to the frame is found it will be fixed at Toyota’s expense. If the rust is minor, then a coating will be applied to retard the formation of more rust. I have heard about frame rust issues with the Tundra pickup trucks, but this is a new recall for the Sequoia years '01 to '04.

I impressed and happy that cars this old are still recalled for anything, but it surprises me. How long do manufacturer’s have to support and recall cars they made years and years ago?

I’m not really sure. I always thought recalls were good for about 10 years. Some manufacturers may extend this to improve customer satisfaction. I do know that I never had an extended warranty for my '98 Malibu but I still get notices telling me it’s running out soon. I scrapped the vehicle a few years ago as a kind gesture to my fellow motoring public.

I’ve Always Thought Recalls Were Forever.


There is no standard; it totally depends on the recall itself, which defines how far back it applies. Typically, since recalls are for safety, they go back to the beginning of when the defect was determined to have begun. A recall that was determined to have begun ten years ago will extend back ten years. A recall for a condition that was determined to have begun farther back may go farther back. A recall on a brand new system will only go back to the implementation of the system.

Be thankful for the good graces of the manufacturers, who are doing you a big favor.

This situation can get out of hand. A few years ago, a lawsuit was brought against an American company (Cessna) for a design flaw in a 20+ year-old aircraft (I think it was allowing the airplane to be potentially flown from the back seat, which was not allowed in the owners manual or in the common-sense part of the brain). Cessna, a respected company which made it possible for many Americans to learn how to fly, went dormant and almost bankrupt after the suit, and now, foreign light aircraft companies control far more of the American skies than they did before. Just hope these recalls don’t “sting” car makers in the same way, or we may be returning to the horse and buggy.

A recall notice lasts the life of the vehicle because it’s a safety issue.

For example, back in the 90’s Chevy pickups had the fuel tanks mounted on the outside of the frame rail. When a young boy was burned alive after being trapped inside the vehicle after a side impact that ruptured the fuel tank, Chevy issued a recall to protect the fuel tank from a side impact.

So you could purchase an old Chevy truck that was put away before this recall notice came out. But as soon as you register it with the state with the VIN, the manufacturer of the vehicle will inform you that the vehicle has a safety recall if it’s shown that their records show the recall issue on that vehicle wasn’t resolved.


A mandated Recall is good forever but this should not be confused with a Campaign, which has time and mileage limits and is at the whim of the car maker.
The Honda shows to be a full fledged Recall but I could not find a record of a Recall on the Toyota.

It could be that the notice you got from Toyota may involve a Campaign and the truck may be subject to miles and time limitations for that rust issue.
This could be one of those form letters that may or may not go anywhere but good luck on it.

I don’t think there is any limit either. I got a notice on a rear seat belt repair on one car that I know was over ten years old. Took it in and it was replaced no problem. Just depends what it is but they don’t have to track you down, just send the notice to the last known address.

I am the third owner of my older vehicle. When the vehicle was about 8 years old, they managed to track me down for a recall on the driver’s seat, much to my surprise. (and happiness) As it turned out, the seat back had broken on one side a couple days earlier and I’d been pondering how I was going to fix it–replacement seat? The recall to fix some weak welds couldn’t have come at a better time.

Years later I got another notice to fix the parking brake/shifter interlock. The car was over 10 years old by then. I ignored this one, as it didn’t matter to me if the shifter could be moved out of park without stepping on the brake, a safety feature that I always found more annoying than useful, being the sole driver of the car and not having any kids.