Back in 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a fantastic and free online search tool, designed to help you find crucial information on recalled vehicles. This incredibly valuable tool is perfect for vehicle owners, buyers, and renters – all you need is the car or motorcycle’s VIN number to discover if there are any serious manufacturing defects that need addressing.
The extensive database provided by the NHTSA gathers information from manufacturer websites, who are obliged to publish details about vehicle recalls. Consequently, the NHTSA’s data encompasses every automobile maker selling products in the United States, with updates occurring weekly. This means you’ll get access to the most up-to-date information alongside historical recall data.
Should I really worry about a recall?
Think back just a few years ago when the General Motors ignition switch recall set GM back billions of dollars. Faulty ignition switches could turn off engines without warning, leading to brakes and power steering shutting down and causing numerous severe motor vehicle accidents.
Unfortunately, recall information for millions of vehicles each year doesn’t always reach buyers – especially renters, used car buyers, and owners struggling to find such details. Consequently, people may continue using vehicles with dangerous defects, putting lives at risk.
What are the odds my vehicle has a defective part?
Even if you’ve just purchased a shiny new car, information about manufacturing or component faults might only become available later on. Car manufacturers don’t usually post public notices in newspapers across the country informing vehicle owners to bring specific makes and models in for repairs. Ultimately, it’s the car owner or renter who ends up facing trouble.
In 2014 alone, around 43 million vehicles were recalled. Generally speaking, manufacturers are only willing to spend money (and reduce profits) on repairing your vehicle if the fault presents a significant danger to you or others on the road.
Unfortunately, only approximately 75% of recalled vehicles are actually brought in for repairs by consumers. That means there’s a 1-in-4 chance that you’re driving a hazardous car without even realizing it. To tackle this issue, the NHTSA introduced their free recalled vehicle lookup tool, making it easier for people to take advantage of manufacturer recalls and enjoy a safe driving experience.
Can you give me some examples of major recalls?
Over the past decade, there have been numerous vehicle recalls for a variety of shocking reasons:
- The notorious Takata airbags found in various car models from multiple manufacturers had a frightening tendency to explode upon impact, showering the driver and front passenger with dangerous shrapnel. This led to severe head, face, and chest injuries, resulting in four deaths and over 100 injuries.
- Ford’s massive recall involved a staggering 11 million Ford Escape SUVs needing repairs due to engine fire hazards. Cracks in the vehicle’s fuel lines could cause gasoline to spill directly onto the engine, a recipe for disaster.
- The Toyota Corolla, often seen as a safe and reliable family sedan, experienced gas pedal issues that would cause it to become stuck at full throttle. This horrifying defect led to nearly 31 fatalities and prompted the recall of 9 million vehicles.
- A dangerous problem plagued the 1996 Ford Ranger: an ignition system glitch would only reveal itself after parking the car. With the ignition off, vehicles would suddenly burst into flames – resulting in numerous house fires and one tragic death.
- The Lincoln Navigator’s cruise control device had a terrifying flaw that could cause the engine to dangerously overheat and catch fire. More recently, GM recalled around 2.6 million older cars equipped with faulty ignition switches that jeopardized airbag functionality during crashes and caused vehicles to stall. Regrettably, this defect was linked to roughly 40 deaths and around 60 injuries.
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