If it seems like car recalls are more common than ever, that’s not far off the mark. 2014 was a record year for car recalls, with 64 million vehicles involved, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It appears that 2016 may be another record year in the wake of the Takata airbag recall, which, with nearly 70 million airbag inflators being recalled, is potentially the largest recall in U.S. history.
Given how common cars are, and how frequent recalls are, every car owner should be aware of whether or not their vehicle has recalled parts. This information is crucial, yet many car owners might not know how to find it. Thankfully, in the age of the internet car, recall data is only a few clicks away.
The NHTSA is the agency responsible for issuing recalls, so naturally, it’s the first place your should look. The agency’s website has a tool to search recalls on specific vehicles, provided you know the make, model, and year.
To begin, choose the year from the drop-down menu beside Model Year. Next, choose the Make from the second drop-down menu, followed by the Model. Finally, click the orange Go button on the right.
The site will then produce a list of any recalls for that vehicle, including summaries of the problem and information on who you should call in order to fix it.
If you want to lookup information about a specific car, you can also search for recalls using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This 17-digit number can generally be found in the registration papers or your insurance card. You can also typically find the VIN on your car’s dashboard, in front of the steering wheel. Once you know your VIN, click the button labeled Search for Recalls by VIN. This will provide information on any recalls the vehicle has undergone, and whether the problem has been fixed or not.
The NHTSA website isn’t the only resource for looking up recall information. If you prefer, Cars.com has a tool for searching for specific recall information. As with the NHTSA site, select your car’s make, model, and year. You must also enter your zip code.
Once down, the website will provide results using information gleaned from the NHTSA database. Cars.com also provides an option to search for service centers near you.
A third option is to check Consumer Reports, which also has an online search function. Select your car’s year, make, and model, then click the gray Go button on the right.
This should bring up a list of recalls, as well as other information about the car, such as prices and specifications.
Check the manufacturer’s website
Finally, you can search for recall information directly from the manufacturer’s website. Every car manufacturer should have this information available, and usually it will require you to enter the VIN for your vehicle. Below are the recall pages for some of the major manufacturers.
As you can see, recall data is easy to find. More importantly, it could save your life.