The most common form of automobile recall notices is safety related.
The department of the federal government largely responsible for motor vehicle safety is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). When an automobile, or a component of an automobile is determined to be out of compliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, a recall notice is issued by NHTSA. Individual manufacturers can also trigger recall notices if they discover a potential problem.
The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.”
A defect includes “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.” Generally, a safety defect is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that either poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, or may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.