Over the past several months, there have been a slew of auto recalls from some of the most prominent automakers in the US and abroad. In one significant recent recall, BMW recalled the rear light assembly in their 2008-2010 5-series vehicles. This important safety recall affects approximately 134,000 vehicles. Because this issue can create a major risk factor for a rear end collision, many BMW drivers have likely already repaired this part as soon as the issue presented itself. The affected 5-series cars are old enough to be out of warranty, so many of the repairs were likely already completed by local independent BMW repair shops – meaning the drivers paid out of pocket for the repair.
Should these BMW drivers who have already repaired their tail lights be reimbursed by BMW for the parts and labor they have already paid for? In short, yes. Your vehicle's manufacturer will cover the cost of replacement of the recalled part, as long the vehicle was taken to a qualified mechanic who used original equipment factory (OEM) parts for the repair.
It might not be an easy process to claim your money, but according to Federal regulations, auto manufacturers like BMW are required to reimburse drivers for the costs related to fixing a defective recalled part, as long as the drivers are able to present receipts as proof of the repair. Although Federal requirements don't require the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, they don't prohibit the manufacturer from requiring the use of OEM parts for the repair of the recalled part to be considered reimbursable.
It is a best practice to keep all of your invoices for repairs and service on your BMW because you never know when a part may be recalled. If you haven't kept your receipts organized, your qualified, independent BMW mechanic will have a record of these invoices and should be able to print off a new one for you. It's also a good idea to keep any other important documentation relating to the recall, such as the recall notice that you receive in the mail.
If you're looking to claim a reimbursement for a recalled part that you've already replaced, you can work through your local dealer for guidance, or get in touch with the auto maker's customer care department. If you have problems with the claim, and are denied reimbursement costs at first, don't give up so easily. One tactic that has proven successful, even after initially having the claim denied, is to elevate the issue to your local news station's investigative team for help like this California lady did. Remember, Federal regulations are on your side when it comes to vehicle safety recalls.