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NHTSA launches VIN tool to search for recalls

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By Nora Naughton Twitter, Crain News Service 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 20, 2014) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a search tool that allows car buyers and owners to use a vehicle’s identification number to identify open or unrepaired safety recalls.

The recall search tool is available on NHTSA’s website. Consumers enter a VIN to find out whether the vehicle has any open, unrepaired recalls and whether the auto maker has a fix available.

NHTSA also is requiring that major light vehicle manufacturers provide VIN search capability for uncompleted recalls on their own company websites.

“This should be a one-stop shop for consumers,” Jim Schulte, NHTSA’s director of digital strategies, said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “If you have a recall that has not been repaired, this is how you find out.”

The introduction of the search tool comes as auto makers, led by General Motors Co., have been recalling record numbers of light vehicles in the U.S.

According to NHTSA, 37.5 million vehicles were recalled in the U.S. in first six months of 2014. That’s more cars and trucks recalled than in any prior full year.

Mr. Schulte said the search tool’s database covers light vehicles dating back 15 years. After the VIN is entered into the search engine, open recalls are noted in red text. Vehicles without open recalls — or recalls that already have been repaired — will not garner any search results.

NHTSA also said it is working with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) to integrate the VIN search tool at dealerships.

NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell said the agency’s VIN search tool will help dealerships identify whether a used car has an unrepaired recall before making a purchase or taking in a trade.

“It will also help dealerships to determine whether used vehicles in inventory are under recall and to provide used-car shoppers with useful safety recall information,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement.

Regarding the provision for car makers to provide VIN search capability on their own websites, NHTSA said they are obligated to update the data at least weekly because NHTSA’s VIN search tool relies on the information provided by auto makers.


This report appeared on, the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.



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