In November of 2000, following the highly publicized Ford/Firestone debacle, Congress passed a law that required the establishment of a manufacturer reimbursement program. This law called on NHTSA to issue a regulation that would assure that consumers would be reimbursed if they act early to fix a defective vehicle or piece of equipment before that defective vehicle or part was officially made part of a safety recall.
In October of 2002, NHTSA passed a final rule that went into effect on January 5, 2003. Far from being a simple-to-navigate process for consumers, this rule is complicated, opens only a narrow window during which consumers can request reimbursement and falls far short of the original intention of the law: to provide an incentives for consumers to act early and decisively to fix potential safety defects in the vehicles they drive.
Click here to read Public Citizen's letter to consumers describing what must be done to be reimbursed for repairs made prior to a recall.
Click here to read Public Citizen's comments to NHTSA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Reimbursement Prior to a Recall.