Car manufacturers try their best to reach out to vehicle owners when conducting recalls. But, as cars get older and are sold used to new owners, it gets harder for the original manufacturer to track them down. Sometimes, this means that serious defects can go unaddressed.
The federal government does not require that sellers of used cars disclose recalls or take steps to fix problems. Even though manufacturers may send out notices, these do not always reach the right people.
For instance, The New York Times reported that a woman in Riverside, California was killed when a defective Takata airbag exploded during a minor collision. Though the recall of these components had been highly publicized, her vehicle had been owned by a number of people previously, and the information never reached her.
For drivers, becoming educated about possible recalls must be a high priority.