Right to Repair

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 and the response from the National Automobile Dealers Association.
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U.S. Department of Transportation Unveils New, Free, Online Search Tool for Recalls Using Vehicle Identification Number

NHTSA 36-14
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Consumers will be able to tell whether their vehicle or a used vehicle they are considering is at risk due to an uncompleted recall

WASHINGTON – Every year, millions of vehicles are recalled in the United States due to safety defects or noncompliance with federal safety standards. To help car buyers, owners and renters know that their vehicles are safe and their safety defects have been address, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today unveiled a new, free, online search tool consumers can use to find out if a vehicle is directly impacted by a recall.

The new tool is available on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup and provides consumers with a quick and easy way to identify uncompleted recalls by entering their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). All major light vehicle and motorcycle brands can be searched.

"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Starting today car owners, shoppers, and renters can find out if a specific vehicle has a safety defect that needs to be fixed – using our free online tool."

Also effective today, under the new NHTSA mandate, all major light vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers are required to provide VIN search capability for uncompleted recalls on their own websites. This data must be updated at least weekly. NHTSA's new VIN look-up tool directly relies on information from all major automakers, and regularly updated information from the automakers is critical to the efficacy of the search tool.

Consumers can find their vehicle identification number by looking at the dashboard on the driver's side of the vehicle, or on the driver's side door on the door post where the door latches when it is closed.

Determining whether there is a recall that consumers need to take action on is easy. After entering the VIN number into the field, results will appear if the consumer has an open recall on their vehicle, and if there are none, owners will see "No Open Recalls."

"Just as every single automaker should never hesitate to recall a defective vehicle, consumers should never hesitate to get their recalled vehicle fixed," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. "By making individual VIN searches readily available, we're providing another service to consumers – the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle they own, or that they are thinking of buying or renting, is free of safety defects."

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, Recall envelope and Safercar mobile apps which provide on-the-spot information on crash protection features, advanced safety features, and recalls on new vehicles and many older models. In addition, NHTSA is working with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) to help ensure that franchise dealerships across the United States become aware of and understand how to use the new VIN search tool.

NADA Statement on New NHTSA Search Tool for Vehicle Recalls

McLEAN, Va. (Aug. 20, 2014) – In response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) look-up tool for vehicle recall information, Forrest McConnell, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association and a Honda/Acura dealer in Montgomery, Ala., issued the following statement:

"The new online look-up tool will help new-car dealerships identify whether a used car or light truck has an unremedied safety recall prior to making a purchase or taking in a trade. It will also help dealerships to determine whether used vehicles in inventory are under recall and to provide used-car shoppers with useful safety recall information.

"To improve vehicle safety, NADA urges every car owner who receives a recall notice from a manufacturer to visit his or her local new-car dealership to have the vehicle inspected, and if necessary, fixed at no charge. Historically, about 75 percent of all recalled vehicles get fixed. Our goal is to see 100 percent of those vehicles remedied."

Dealers and consumers can access the new tool from NHTSA at www.safercar.gov/vinlookup.

News release: http://www.nadafrontpage.com/NADA_NHTSA_VIN_Look-Up_Tool.xml

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