Failure to address an open recall can result in injuries or deaths. NHTSA’s encouraging all vehicle owners to check to see if their vehicle has an open recall.

Although not quite a national holiday, National Safety Council is encouraging every vehicle owner to check for open recalls on their vehicles this week which has been declared Vehicle Safety Recalls Week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While this might not seem like a big deal for new-car owners, who are usually informed via mail about a potential problem, the “holiday” makes a great deal of sense for people who purchase used vehicles.

Because cars, trucks and SUVs can have multiple owners during their lifetime of service, recall notices don’t always find their way to current owners. Auto manufactures OEMs find it difficult to track them down should a recall of a particular make and model be ordered.

A bigger problem for used vehicles

In an average year, there are as more than two times as many used cars are sold than new cars. In September 2020 alone, for example, ALG estimated that used-car sales reached 3.8 million, up 11% from a year ago and down 1% from August 2020. Cox Automotive estimated that total new-car sales for all of 2020 was about 15.5 million, down from 16.8 million in 2019.

A recent J.D. Power survey concludes there are 45 million recalled vehicles on U.S. roads in need of repair.

What that means, simply put, is that a lot of people are buying cars that are new to them without knowing if there is a recall out on that vehicle.

“This is a public safety issue,” said Mark Chung, vice president of Roadway Practices for NSC. “In 2020 there were 56 million vehicles on the road with open recalls. People are surprised and delighted to learn that these recall repairs are done for free.

“Recalls often don’t enter the radar of used-car buyers because they aren’t notified. But now people can go to CheckToProtect.org and by entering their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), they can find out in a couple of minutes if there is a recall on their car.”

Small actions make big differences

By checking to see if there is a recall, consumers can also save themselves a lot of time and money.

“Safety is top of mind for families across America, and vehicle safety is an important part of that,” Chung said. “We encourage everyone to take two minutes this week to check for recalls on their vehicles. You won’t know if you’re at risk until you check.”

Three Steps to Check Your Vehicle

NHTSA estimates that 25% of all vehicles have an open recall. In some instances, the repair is minor, but for others, it can result in property loss (the vehicle), injury and even death. For those who want to know if their vehicles are under a recall, NHTSA says follow three easy steps:

  • Find your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Look for the 17-character VIN on the lower left of your car’s windshield, or on the label inside your driver side doorjamb. Also the VIN might be found on the vehicle’s registration or insurance documents.
  • Search using the vehicle’s VIN at NHTSA.gov/Recalls. This search will tell you if there’s an open safety recall affecting your vehicle and what steps to take.
  • If there is an open recall, immediately get the vehicle repaired for free at a local dealership. Follow the steps indicated by the response to the VIN search. The vehicle’s manufacturer is required by law to address a recall – and again it’s a free repair.

Recalls are also issued for child car seats, tires and vehicle-related equipment – like bike racks. If any of these items are recalled, manufacturers are required to fix the problem by repairing it, replacing it or offering a refund. Check for these safety recalls at NHTSA.gov/Recalls.

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