Video: Why It's Important to Pay Attention to Recalls

CARS.COM — You hear about recalls for cars and wonder, am I at risk? We'll tell you why you need to pay attention, and why you'll need to keep paying attention, to keep you and your family safe.

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Automakers issue safety recalls when something in a car goes wrong. It could be a minor thing, such as a label with the wrong information, or it could be something very dangerous, such as a faulty airbag. Either way, you should always pay attention to recall notices. The most famous recall today, affecting millions of Takata airbags, concerns a flaw that federal regulators say contributed to at least 10 deaths in the U.S.

If your car has been recalled, you should get a brightly colored recall notice in the mail.

Don't throw it away. It isn't junk mail.

Open it and follow the instructions. Your best bet? Call your local dealer and schedule an appointment to get the recall work done. The dealer will do it for free.

Sometimes, though, a fix hasn't been determined or the repair parts are still on order.

In that case, the notice may tell you what you can do to mitigate the risk until your car is fixed. Follow those directions, and if you don't feel comfortable driving until the repair is done, see your dealer about getting a loaner car. Several automakers are providing loaner cars for vehicles affected in the airbag recalls.

Two more tips.

First, make sure your car is registered at your home address. If it isn't, you won't get these notices.

Second, get in the habit of entering your vehicle identification number into the government's online recall database at least twice a year to see if it has any unfixed recalls. If your car has one, call your dealer and get it fixed right away.

Watch the video above and be sure to catch it Saturday morning on TV. Check for local airtimes here.

Driving Smart Safety Video

Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey