NHTSA website helps car owners check for missed recalls

Network uses VINs to look for defects

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Every year, millions of vehicles are recalled nationwide for safety defects. Now, consumers have a quick way to find out if their vehicle was overlooked.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week launched a website — www.safercar.gov/​vinlookup — that allows people to enter a vehicle’s identification number to see if there are any outstanding recalls.

Besides car owners, the tool can be useful for people renting or considering buying a used vehicle.

“Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in announcing the new tool. “Car owners, shoppers and renters can find out if a specific vehicle has a safety defect that needs to be fixed.”

Vehicle identification numbers, or VINs, can be found on the driver’s side dashboard or door post.

After a VIN is entered, the site will show any recalls for that vehicle over the last 15 years that haven’t been addressed. Any completed recalls will not be displayed.

“Consumers are urged to contact their dealer immediately after learning that a safety recall exists on their vehicle and make an appointment for the free fix,” the safety administration said.

The search engine covers all major automakers, including motorcycle manufacturers. Small manufacturers producing fewer than 25,000 vehicles, or 5,000 motorcycles, annually are not required to participate. The site currently lists 45 participating manufacturers.

In less than a week of operation, “tens of thousands” of VIN searches have been performed on the site, according to the safety administration.

The tool does not include very recently announced safety recalls for which not all VINs have been identified, or any nonsafety recall campaigns.

Pa­tri­cia Saba­tini: psa­ba­tini@post-ga­zette.com or 412-263-3066.

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