It has become much easier to check on whether a particular vehicle has been subject to any recalls. There is a new, free online search tool offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for that purpose.
Type in a vehicle’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) at SaferCar.gov to check whether a specific car, truck or motorcycle has had any problems that were covered by recalls over the past 15 years and whether recall repairs were made on the vehicle by manufacturer-authorized dealerships or repair shops. That information can be especially useful when you are considering buying a used car or renting a car.
In 2014, more than 46 million cars in the US (nearly one out of every five) have been recalled, most notably GM cars with faulty ignition switches that could cut off power to the engine and airbags while driving.
Automakers are required to provide recall repairs for free if a vehicle is 10 years old or less even if it is no longer under warranty. Despite this, 25% of recalled autos have not been repaired 18 months after a recall was first announced. According to Carfax, a service that reports vehicle histories, there are 3.5 million used cars on the market now with unrepaired recall defects. This is a major hidden hazard for consumers because there is no state or federal law requiring that used-car dealerships, private owners or rental-car agencies have the defective cars repaired.