NHTSA and Understanding Vehicle Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently released a video called “Understanding Vehicle Recalls.” This is likely part of a recent push to improve recall efficacy across the nation. With record-high numbers of recalls last year, one might also think that these defective cars and trucks are getting repaired quickly and completely. That’s not exactly the case. Not everybody gets the proper notification about recalls, and the NHTSA just had a weekend workshop in efforts to boost recall completion rates.

Need to Know: Understanding Vehicle Recalls

  • Car owners are notified about recalls by the manufacturer through certified mail.
  • The manufacturer offers to fix the defective or faulty part for free.
  • Automobile owners should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making a repair appointment at a local dealership.

How do Recalls Get Issued?

Unfortunately, recalls don’t usually happen as swiftly as we would like. The reality of the situation is that it takes many complaints about a particular make or model before an investigation can be initiated. In many cases, lives are lost and people are injured months or years before a recall is issued. After enough complaints have been filed, the NHTSA will typically conduct an investigation and then determine if a recall is necessary. Sometimes, if there is a concern, but it’s not deemed important enough to issue a nationwide recall, there will be a published safety advisory.

What if You Don’t Get Notified?

For a variety of reasons, not everybody gets the certified letter informing them about a particular recall. Whether you’ve changed addresses or ownership of the car has changed, don’t count on getting your recall information from the manufacturer alone. You can check your vehicle’s recall status online. Safercar.gov has an online VIN Look-Up Tool. All you need is your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and you can check to see if your automobile is under any kind of recall. On most vehicles, the number is found on the driver’s side dashboard.

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