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New rule gives consumers better access to car and motorcycle recall information

NHTSA requires manufacturers to provide free online tools

Published: August 14, 2013 04:30 PM

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In an effort to give consumers easier access to car recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a rule requiring automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to provide a free online tool to allow recall information to be searched by a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). 

The move will make it easier for consumers to find out immediately whether a vehicle is subject to a recall and if it has received the appropriate fix. This latter function will be helpful for used car shoppers looking to see if the vehicle they want to buy is or was subject to a recall.

Automakers must provide the information on their website and update the data weekly. Some automakers already have the VIN search functionality; others will have until a year from now to comply with the rule.

The search feature will also be available on NHTSA’s website: Currently, car owners can only put in the make and model year of their vehicle, but a VIN search feature will be added.

Also, manufacturers are now mandated to share the type of powertrain and crash avoidance technologies vehicles have with the agency, so NHTSA can look at potential defects, trends, or safety issues related to those systems.

Combined, these measures will better inform consumers and could help raise automotive safety overall.

Consumer Reports currently provides an online tool for car owners to search for recalls by make and model year. There you will find not only the official description, but insights from trained mechanics that explain the recall and its impact.

Recalls can be searched from the main landing page, or browsed from the respective car model page.

–Liza Barth

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