How to Check for Open Manufacturer Recalls on a Vehicle
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has develop a very useful online search tool where drivers can find out if a specific car has been recalled (and why) and if those repairs have been performed or not. According to a recent article published in the Chicago Tribune, carmakers will have to provide 15 years of data and update the information every 7 days. The search tool can be found at www.safercar.gov .
To get started, you will need the 17 digit VIN from the vehicle. This number can be found where the windshield meets the dashboard in the left corner, on the driver’s door post (and also on insurance and registration forms if you are the owner of the vehicle). Next, go to the website, click on the box “Search for Recalls” and enter the VIN on the next screen. No additional personal information will be asked for or needed. This makes it an excellent way to check on a used vehicle (from a dealer or from a private seller) before purchasing it. If the recalls have been completed, it makes it a safer investment.
What do I do if there is an open recall on my vehicle? Contact the dealer to set up an appointment to have the vehicle fixed- you will need to ask if the repair is still covered under the recall or if there will be any charge to you. Your own mechanic will not be able to perform these repairs free of charge.
This federal program was implemented due to manufacturers recalling about 46 million vehicles this year, the highest number ever. That equates to one in every 5 cars in the U.S. that need a recall. Typically, owners would receive a letter stating the need for the recall for their vehicle and instructions on how to have it fixed. Often times, consumers may not open the mail or may misplace it and then fail to have the repairs done. The NHTSA estimates that 25% of recalled autos still need the repair 18 months after the recall was announced.
Do your part in keeping drivers and passengers safe by checking the recall status on your vehicle today at www.safercar.gov.