A quarter of auto recalls are not repaired on average each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Ignoring a recall notice or waiting to have the repairs done can lead to more problems down the road.
By the time Stephen Smith found out about the recall on his 2013 Dodge Ram, it was just a little too late. Smith said the truck’s alternator failed back in July while he was on the road. Smith knew he wouldn’t make it home to Canaan, so he took it to a dealership in Torrington.
"It literally died as I was pulling into their parking lot," Smith said.
An employee at the dealership told Smith that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had issued a recall on the alternator at the end of 2016.
"They said everything was great. The recall would cover the alternator, all that," Smith said.
Smith assumed "all that" included two new batteries installed in his diesel truck to replace the ones that were drained, as well as the cost of a rental vehicle.
"If the alternator was under recall and the alternator is what supplies the energy to keep the batteries charged, they should be covered under the warranty," Smith said.
But the remedy outlined in the official recall notice only includes the alternator and makes no mention of batteries or other associated costs.
Smith took his complaint directly to FCA and said one customer service agent told him they’d send over some paperwork to fill out in order for his case to be considered. Another said to be on the lookout for a check but Smith never received either.
When his own efforts stalled, Smith asked NBC Connecticut Responds to take over. Within 24 hours of reaching out to NBC Connecticut's consumer team, Smith received a phone call from FCA.
About a week later, he got a check for $577.93 to cover his out-of-pocket costs.
A spokesperson for FCA told NBC Connecticut, "FCA US is pleased to resolve this situation and regrets any inconvenience it may have caused. However, we urge customers to respond to the instructions on recall notices. Safety is a paramount concern at FCA US. Further, it is prudent for consumers to periodically consult one of the various online search engines, such as checktoprotect.org, to learn if a vehicle may have an open recall."
Information on auto recalls is also available at this website.