What are your rights when your vehicle has a recall?

What are your rights when your vehicle has a recall?

Steich is 300 km away from the nearest dealership and doesn’t want to be inconvenienced


What are the rights of a consumer when their vehicle has a recall? Our 2014 Toyota Sienna has a recall for the rear sliding door; aside from the repair, the dealer will only provide a ride downtown and back to the dealership. No loaner is provided for the day while they complete the recall work. Unfortunately, the closest Toyota dealer is approximately three hours away from where we live.          – Steich in Red Lake, Ont.,

In 2018, Canada’s auto recall legislation was updated to align it more closely with the United States. The government now has the power to order an automaker to perform a no-charge recall repair. Under the old legislation, the authority of Transport Canada was limited to compelling an automaker to issue a letter to vehicle owners notifying them of a safety defect. There is nothing in the updated legislation about additional compensation to vehicle owners for loss of time or inconvenience.

The Sienna sliding door recall you refer to takes about three hours to complete. Safety recalls and vehicle warranty coverage generally includes only the cost to perform the repair. An automaker will sometimes provide a no-charge rental or loaner if the recalled vehicle must be kept for more than a day, or parts are unavailable and there is a high perceived risk of the vehicle causing injury. Compensation for time lost, inconvenience or alternate transportation are very much the exception; they’re more likely with some luxury brands whose premium service sometimes provides complimentary valet service or a loaner.

Presumably, when you bought the Sienna you had to make a three-hour journey to shop for it. It was also foreseeable at the time that service and warranty repairs would have to be performed at the retailer. In the absence of some aggravating factor, like multiple visits to fix the same problem, or a vehicle that is not drivable for several days, the inconvenience seems reasonable. It falls into the obligations that are part of vehicle ownership for people living outside of large urban markets.

You may be surprised to learn that safety advocates have not leaned hard on the automakers to recognize the personal expense and inconvenience when vehicles are recalled. That’s because adding, say $50, for transportation to and from the dealership and time lost would nearly double the cost of many recalls. It’s hard enough to convince the automakers to recognize some defects – building the additional cost into recall campaigns is perceived as a potential disincentive in some circles.