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It’s easy to find out if your vehicle is already a recall risk

Quick notes

-The NHTSA is responsible for administering and providing information about safety recalls.

-You should periodically check to see whether your vehicle is subject to any safety recalls. It can mean the difference between life and death.

-Vehicle Identification Numbers can easily be found and any safety recalls easily discovered by contacting your dealer or through the NHTSA recall database.

NHTSA is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is an agency of the federal government and part of the Department of Transportation.

The role of NHTSA is to create and enforce Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and regulations for motor vehicle theft assistance and fuel economy as part of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy System (CAFE).


Their mandate also means that NHTSA is responsible for licensing vehicle manufacturers and importers. They allow the import of vehicles and safety regulated vehicle parts.

“NHTSA is responsible for licensing vehicle manufacturers and importers.”

They control the vehicle identification number system, develop the crash test dummies for safety testing which determines NHTSA safety rating, and they test those safety testing procedures and protocols. The NHTSA also provides information about vehicle insurance and its associated costs by state.

The NHTSA is also responsible for the creation and maintenance of the information files for the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, which oversees the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Essentially, they either create or control everything relating to vehicle safety and associated vehicular standards. One of their most important roles is tracking and maintaining a system that accepts, issues, regulates, and informs consumers about automotive recalls.


Your safety while driving is of imperative importance. The problem is that if you aren’t a new car buyer wherein the dealer has all of your current contact information, and they contact you about important recalls, you may miss out.

If you purchased your car used and have it serviced at an independent shop, you may have not been aware that there is a safety or other recall on our vehicle.

In the long run, not only may you be driving an unsafe vehicle, but you may be paying for repairs for something that the manufacturer would be willing and legally required to cover.

Checking for recalls

Courtest Illustration / JBSA Photo Gallery / Public Domain

If you are not lucky enough to be contacted directly about the recalls, or you want to purchase a used vehicle and determine its compliance with the recalls so far, this can very easily be accomplished.

NHTSA recalls are contained in a database online accessible through the NHTSA database. This database is searchable. Whether or not you are contacted by the dealer about recalls, it’s always wise to periodically check yourself.

“Recall repairs don’t bring in profits for the dealer, and they may not be as quick to repair them as you’d like.”

First, find your vehicle identification number (VIN). It can be found on the inside door jamb of the driver’s door of your vehicle.

Once you have your VIN, you can check it against the NHTSA recalls database.

The other methods of determining whether your vehicle has a safety recall, and to see whether they have been repaired, is to contact your dealership with your VIN number.

Just as a helpful aside, NHTSA also has a VIN decoder which allows you to see a breakdown of the actual build specifications of your car such as build date.

Checking for safety recalls should be a routine part of your car maintenance just like oil changes. Failure to obtain those safety repairs have led to catastrophic injuries and deaths.

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