The new policy won't take effect until August 14, 2014, giving manufacturers a full year to set up their systems. According to NHTSA, several manufacturers already offer this free-of-charge service, while the new policy will make it mandatory. When the tool goes online, it'll be accessible via the government's safercar.gov website.
The present system allows consumers to search for recall information based on the vehicle's make and model, but can't determine if a specific vehicle has had its recall work done. The new policy will also apply to motorcycle manufacturers.
NHTSA to Provide Free VIN Searches to Help Consumers Check Cars, Light Trucks and Motorcycles for Uncompleted Recalls
Free Vehicle Identification Number search will improve safety and inform purchasing decisions
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced its plans to require automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to provide consumers with a free online tool that will enable them to search recall information by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) starting next year.
"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in that effort," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Owners and potential buyers alike will soon be able to identify whether a safety recall for their specific vehicle is incomplete, using our free online search at SaferCar.gov."
In an ongoing effort to better provide consumers with specific vehicle safety information, NHTSA today issued a final rule that will require all major automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to provide consumers with online access to recall information on vehicles searchable by VIN. This information must be updated at least weekly.
Consumers will be able to instantly determine whether action is required to address an uncompleted safety recall that affects their personal vehicle, as identified by their unique VIN. While several automakers already offer this feature, those who do not, will have until next year (8/14/14) to comply with the final rule.
This new search feature will also be available on the nation's only official automotive safety website www.safercar.gov. Currently, consumers are limited to general searches by vehicle make and model year on the NHTSA website. With the new VIN search feature, consumers will be able to tell whether a specific vehicle is subject to a recall and whether the vehicle has received the remedy.
"Every day NHTSA is working for the American consumer to ensure that automakers and motorcycle manufacturers address safety defects and non-compliances, and that they also recall affected vehicles in a timely manner," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "By making individual VIN searches readily available, we're providing another service to car, light truck and motorcycle owners and potential owners – the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle they own, or that they are thinking of buying, is safe."
Today's announcement builds on NHTSA's current efforts to provide consumers with information to help them make informed decisions, including the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) 5-Star Ratings System, and the new SaferCar mobile app, which provides on-the-spot information on crash protection features, advanced safety features, and recalls on new vehicles and many older models.
This final rule requires large volume car, light truck and motorcycle manufacturers to provide search capability for uncompleted safety recalls on their websites. In addition, the rule will require manufacturers to inform NHTSA about exactly what type of propulsion system and crash avoidance technologies vehicles have. This new information will assist NHTSA's efforts to spot defect trends related to those systems and technologies. Manufacturers also will be required to provide vehicle owners with direct notice of recalls within 60 days of notifying NHTSA that a recall is occurring.
The Final Rule to Amend 49 CFR Parts 573, 577, and 579, Early Warning, Foreign Defect Report Regulations, and Safety Recall Regulations will be posted on the Federal Register accessible here.