A new online search tool allows consumers to type in a vehicle identification number, or VIN, to check on whether recall repairs have been completed on a specific car, truck or motorcycle.
This is the first time consumers will be able to use a VIN on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website to determine whether a recall issue has been addressed on a particular car. The service will also be available on N.H.T.S.A.‘s Safer car app for iOS and Android devices.
The free search tool lets consumers quickly learn whether a vehicle they are considering for purchase has a safety problem that has not been addressed. Recalled vehicles can be repaired without charge at franchised dealers.
Previously, consumers who visited the safety agency’s website to check on recalls could search only by vehicle make and model year to learn whether a particular model was, in general, subject to a recall. They could not, however, find out whether a specific used car — perhaps one they were considering for purchase — had been recalled, but not repaired.
Recall data will go back at least 15 years under the new rules. Automakers are not required by federal law to perform free recall repairs on vehicles more than 10 years old, but they usually opt to make the repairs anyway.
This is what consumers can expect when searching for recall information about a vehicle on the agency’s website:
♦ If there is an open recall, they can see what the manufacturer said in the recall notice, including descriptions of the defect, the safety risk associated with the problem and a description of the remedy.
♦ If a recall repair has not been completed for that particular vehicle, “Recall INCOMPLETE” will appear on the screen in red letters.
♦ If there are no open recalls, consumers will see “Number of Open Recalls: 0” on the page.
♦ If parts are not yet available to fix the safety defect, the warning will say, in red, “Recall INCOMPLETE. Remedy not yet available.”
Consumers who want to check on more than one vehicle never have to leave the page. After they enter one VIN, they will be told by the program that it is possible to enter another one.
Regarding privacy concerns, the agency said it would not gather personal information on the site, so it would not be possible to track who has checked the recall status.
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