Living in a remote or rural part of the U.S. can bring with it many advantages, especially for those who value privacy and independence. However, if your vehicle is subject to a manufacturer’s recall of its engine, transmission, or another major component, you could find yourself facing some steep hurdles when it comes to having your vehicle repaired quickly and locally.
In almost all cases, repairs resulting from a manufacturer’s recall must be performed by a licensed dealer, even if your vehicle is well out of warranty. For those in populated areas, this process can be as simple as dropping off their vehicle on the way to work, taking a loaner vehicle, and making the switch a day or two later.
However, in the most rural parts of the U.S. (particularly parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska), the nearest licensed dealer may be hours away. Not only can this make it less convenient to drop off your vehicle for service, the relative rarity of other licensed dealers in the area could mean that your nearest dealership is dealing with an incredible volume of repair requests. As it can be hard to predict the speed with which repairs can be completed, being fairly far down on the waiting list could leave you without many answers as to when you can expect your vehicle to be fixed.
Depending upon the backlog of service orders and the complexity of the repair you need, you could be looking at a vehicle that’s out of commission for weeks and requires at least two round-trip journeys, to a dealer hours away, between drop-off and pickup.
What are your options?
As crazy as it may sound, in some cases it is better to pay a local repair shop to fix or replace the item under recall, rather than having a licensed dealer perform the work. Take the case of an Alaskan couple who purchased a Honda shortly before a recall was issued. Living on a remote Alaskan island just off the coast of Canada, the nearest two Honda licensed dealers were over 200 miles away and required ferry or barge transportation. After being informed by Honda that they would not be reimbursed for any travel expenses incurred to get the recalled transmission software repaired, which ranged between several hundred to potentially a few thousand dollars, the couple decided to enlist the help of a local transmission repair shop. Paying for the travel expenses and the repair themselves, while staying local, ended up actually saving money for the beleaguered couple.
For those of you that love rural country living, it may be to your benefit to discuss recall procedures before buying a car. If you find yourself in a bind because of a vehicle recall, and not anywhere near a licensed dealer, consider giving your local auto repair shop a call. Refusing a ‘free’ recall repair may actually end up saving you money.