The number of automotive recalls to fix safety issues has exploded in recent years. And, it’s a good bet that your car is included. If you’ve bought your car new, you’ll likely get a recall notice by mail. But, if you are the second or third owner, that letter may never arrive. But, not to worry. The national highway traffic safety administration now has a quick way for you to find out yourself. So we dispatched our FYI reporter Lauren Morrison to the source to check it out.
LAUREN MORRISON: We’ve all heard those safety recall alerts…Yet 25 percent of vehicles, that’s one out of every 4 on the road right now, still have open safety recalls.
FRANK BORRIS: “This is a risk that could affect your wipers, your lighting, your steering, your brakes, even the safety critical systems like air bags or stability control that are designed to prevent a crash.”
LM: In 2015 alone, almost 900 safety recall notices were issued, affecting 51 million vehicles. While automakers are responsible for contacting owners, the sheer size of the problem has prompted the national highway traffic safety administration to make it easy for you to find out if your car is affected.
FRANK BORRIS: “You know, vehicles today are extremely complex, finding out if your vehicle has an open recall is not, and it never will be.”
LM: First, you need your car’s unique vehicle identification number, or VIN.
“There are a couple of ways you can find your car’s VIN. The first, right on the car. For most vehicles, it’s on the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side.
You can also find it on your insurance card or registration. With VIN in hand, head over to the national highway traffic safety administration’s safer car website.
FRANK BORRIS: “So once you have your 17 digit VIN from your insurance or registration card, come to safercar.gov and you notice we make it easy to find our VIN lookup tool.”
LM: Once you plug in your VIN, you’ll know within seconds if your car has a safety recall on it.
FRANK BORRIS: “It shows there’s one open recall and here in the bright red, recall incomplete.”
LM: Being informed though, is only half the battle…
“It used to be all about getting a letter in your mailbox about a recall on your car, but now, manufactures and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are looking into new ways to keep you in the know.
FRANK BORRIS: “They’re also using social media, Facebook, Twitter, even YouTube.”
LM: Actually getting drivers to get a safety recall fixed, is whole other story.
FRANK BORRIS: “If you see an open recall, the important thing is not just know about it, but take action. Pick up the phone immediately, call the dealer and make an appointment and get it repaired. There’s no cost. Your life may depend on it, or someone else’s.”
LM: There are no “minor issues” behind any safety recall. Ignoring one can have deadly consequences.
FRANK BORRIS: “I think some people think, we’ll it won’t happen to me. But every year, working in this agency since 1997, it does happen and when people get hurt, or worse, killed, it’s tragic. It affects someone’s family. It could be someone’s mother, your daughter, but it’s very real.”
LM: NHTSA recommends checking your VIN on their safercar website at least twice a year, helping to ensure a smooth drive down a recall free roadway.