We've already seen more vehicles recalled this year than any year on record. General Motors alone has issued campaigns covering about 25.75 million cars in the US. Finally, with 2014 more than half gone, it appears that the rate of these announcements is finally starting to slow, but that still leaves tens of million of drivers needing to know whether their vehicle needs a safety fix. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is offering a solution with a simple new way for people to make sure whether their car or truck is covered under one of these recalls.
The new government website allows people to type in their model's Vehicle Identification Number, and the system spits out whether the vehicle is subject to recall campaigns. The launch coincides with NHTSA's mandate that major automakers allow customers to search for uncompleted campaigns on their models. Each company is required to update the data at least once a week, and the regulator's service is tied to this information.
The agency's VIN lookup is certainly a step in the right direction, and it could be extremely useful when buying a used car to double-check its repairs. However, the system could probably still use a bit of work. At this time, it only lists recalls on the vehicle that aren't yet repaired, instead of all possible campaigns. To get that info, an owner would have to separately search the existing NHTSA database. It also doesn't list manufacturers' customer service or other non-safety campaigns. Scroll down to read the regulator's full announcement about the new program.