You could be owed some money from the manufacturer

Finding Hidden Money in Recalls

by Leslie Winey

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Everyone wants to save money these days, particularly on car repairs and other expensive items, and recalls can save you money or even reimburse you for money spent. Before you replace that item or pay that big car repair bill, consider finding hidden money in recalls.

Who Knew?

I received an unexpected bonus last winter when the power steering line in our minivan split and leaked fluid twice! The vehicle was purchased used so we'd never received any recalls on it. It would have been wise to monitor this over the years, but I hadn't thought of it. However, on this particular day, a light went on and I did a quick online search for recalls on our make and model.

It turns out there had been a recall on the power steering cooler hose for our vehicle. We'd had it repaired twice at a local shop. I called the number listed and was told to mail copies of my receipts for the repairs to their corporate address in Michigan. Quite promptly, I received a check that covered the entire cost of the repairs.

Keep Up to Date with Recalls

I've checked for recalls for every repair we've had since then and recently found that the 2010 vehicle we purchased last year had an issue because the key fob can move to the off or accessory position while you are driving, thereby shutting off the engine. I'd just returned from a trip to Chicago driving 80 mph on the Dan Ryan Expressway, not by choice, so that was rather unsettling news. The recommendation was to take all extra keys and tags off your keychain, so there wouldn't be any additional weight on the key fob. I did that and then called the phone number that was listed on the website. It was a line designated for that recall only. Within two minutes, they had answered, looked up my vehicle using the Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN), and assured me that the ignition switch had been replaced by the previous owner the year that the recall was issued.

Cashing in on Recalls

A benefit to calling the manufacturer is that they will then have your updated information if there are any additional recalls on your vehicle. A handy website is You simply enter your VIN and the site will tell you if the repair has been made. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that only 70% of vehicles have the repairs completed after a recall is issued, meaning there are a lot of cars driving around with defects that could potentially cause an accident.

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Don't Stop with Vehicle Recalls

Vehicles are not the only place where you can save with recalls. If you go to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, you can search through hundreds of items. My little coffee brewer is on this list, so I spent ten minutes last Saturday on the phone with a pleasant fellow who logged my information and is sending me a replacement part so that my beloved machine won't spray me with hot water.

Who knew that portable stadium seating could cause back injuries or that the control arm could break off that pricey zero turn mower? I'm sending a stroller recall notice to my son because I just read that the stroller they snagged secondhand can accidently lacerate or amputate a finger. That's serious! And I wouldn't want to be the child whose Halloween flashlight overheated and burned my finger. Ouch!

Don't Throw Money Away

The list of products with recalls on the website is amazing in its breadth and scope. Car manufacturers issue recalls every day. Keep in mind that you could be throwing money away if you simply repair or discard that broken product. You may be owed money or a replacement part or even a new product. It only takes a few minutes of your time and may prevent a serious injury to you or a loved one, or put a few hard earned dollars back in your pocket.

Take the Next Step:

  • Are you owed money you forgot about? Find out how to find unclaimed property in all states.
  • Get proactive about tackling your debt. Take these steps to get out of debt and begin the journey to financial freedom today!
  • Get control of your financial life. Subscribe to Financial Independence, a free daily email that provides you with the tools to help you gain that control and achieve financial independence. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist for FREE!

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