The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") announced on August 14, 2013 that it will now require automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to provide consumers with a free online tool enabling them to search recall information for individual vehicles by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). To read NHTSA's Press Release, click here.
This online feature will allow consumers to instantly determine whether action is required to address an uncompleted safety recall that affects their personal vehicle, or a used vehicle which they are considering purchasing. The information must be updated weekly, at minimum, and automakers and motorcycle manufacturers have one year to comply with the new rule.
The goal of the new rule is to increase recall completion rates (reportedly at about 70%) through greater consumer awareness. The new rule also requires automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to use the Department of Transportation’s logo on recall letters sent to owners. It is hoped that this will further emphasize the importance of the communication. The new rule also requires automakers and motorcycle manufacturers to inform NHTSA what type of propulsion system and crash avoidance technologies their vehicles have. It is expected that this information will assist NHTSA in its efforts to spot "defect trends related to these systems and technologies".
Many automakers already have this feature for consumers on their own sites. In fact, the Center for Auto Safety has a recall section that links to the sites of all automakers that already provide consumers with recall searches. For a link to the site, click here.
One thing is for sure-- this new rule will allow consumer to be better informed before purchasing a used car, truck, or motorcycle.
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