The airbag logo on a car's passenger side dashboard

Each year, vehicle manufacturers issue safety recalls for defective vehicles they produce.  If these defects are not repaired, they may cause accidents, exacerbate the effects of those accidents, or aggravate injuries sustained in an accident.  Not every recall is a safety issue; sometimes, manufacturers issue recalls for a defective radio or air conditioning components.  Safety recalls cover systems and components such as breaks, airbags, wiring, steering systems, which, if these fail, could cause serious injury or death. Therefore, it is important to be able to address any issues your car may have.

While some recalls make the news (such as the recent Takata airbag and Volkswagen emissions recalls), most do not.  Manufacturers are obligated to report recalls to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the US Department of Transportation.  Federal law requires manufacturers to send out mail notices of recalled parts when they can identify the owners.  Furthermore, manufacturers are obliged to repair your recall issues at their own cost.

It is incredibly easy to check to see if a safety recall has been issued for your car or motorcycle.  First, locate your vehicle’s VIN number.  This may be located in a number of different locations, but can commonly be found on the front of your dashboard, near the windshield, the driver side door jamb sticker, or etched onto one or more of the windows.  You may also find it on some of your vehicle documentation such as the title, registration, or insurance cards.

Next, go to, the website for NHTSA.  Click on the “Recalls” tab at the top of the screen, then enter your vehicle’s VIN number to check if there is any outstanding recall maintenance for your own vehicle.  Done!

You can also sign up to receive email alerts, should any recalls be issued for your vehicle in the future.

There are a few limitations with the NHTSA search, though.  It covers only safety related recalls, not convenience/ customer service recalls.  Additionally, very new recalls and recalls on vehicles older than 15 years are not included.  Imported vehicles not originally destined for the US market and some high end, boutique vehicles are also not included in NHTSA’s database.

Beyond vehicle searches, you can use the NHTSA website to search for recalls on tires, vehicle equipment, and child safety seats.

Aside from searching NHTSA’s database, most new vehicle dealerships will do VIN searches for the brands that they sell.  Many manufacturers also have VIN search functions similar to the NHTSA to find recall data on their branded vehicles.  There are also some third-party websites that run recall searches using NHTSA data.

Recalls do not have set expiration dates, but your rights to enforce the recall and get your car fixed may be limited to a reasonable period.  If a manufacturer goes out of business, you will not be able to avail yourself of the recall maintenance.  Similarly, the extent of the maintenance done to your vehicle is limited to a reasonable amount.  If the defective part causes damage to your vehicle, you may be entitled to have those damages repaired.  However, you can waive the right to a full repair if you ignore a recall notice.

If you are injured due to a defective product, contact the personal injury attorneys at Morris Bart today. You can fill out the free case evaluation form, Live Chat with us, or call us at 800-537-8185. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We have offices across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.

August 22, 2017 | Categories: Auto Accidents, Safety Tips |