Vehicle recalls are officially issued by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, pronounced “NITS-uh”). NHTSA is an agency of the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT is a government department organized under the Executive branch of the United States government. NHTSA was established in 1970 and brought us a standardized uniform symbol for Emergency Medical Service providers known as the Star of Life and later, NHTSA entertained and informed us with the You Could Learn a Lot from a Dummy campaign which introduced the iconic Crash Test Dummies, Vince and Larry.
NHTSA’s mission is safety and while most vehicle recalls are issued voluntarily by automobile manufacturers, NHTSA does have standing to bring an action before the court, on behalf of the public, and force a recall when necessary. While NHTSA seeks to work in a cooperative manner with automobile manufacturers, NHTSA also has the power to investigate and request documents and information from manufacturers. When a safety defect is found, NHTSA has established procedures requiring manufacturers to provide notice via first-class mail to all registered owners. Follow-up should occur periodically to determine vehicles which have not had the recall work performed and additional notification provided to those non-compliant owners. NHTSA works with manufacturers to ensure the process is followed and that all affected consumers receive notification and have the ability to obtain the recall work, free of charge.
NHTSA provides several resources for the public including a website tool to report safety issues; a website tool to check your vehicles unique VIN for recalls, and a website tool for other auto-related accessory recalls. NHTSA also provides safety ratings for new vehicles and in-depth detail as to its crash-test procedures. Whether a consumer is looking to purchase a new or used vehicle, tires, or child safety seats, NHTSA has a lot of information worth reviewing prior to making a vehicle or accessory purchase.
When a recall is issued, and a vehicle owner receives notice, the owner of the vehicle should follow the instructions to have the recall work performed at the earliest opportunity, as explained by a skilled car accident lawyer. The owner should contact the dealership or authorized vendor and make an appointment to bring the vehicle in for repair. Recall work is performed at no charge to the vehicle owner. If a vehicle owner encounters difficulty with a dealership or other authorized service provider, then the owner should go back to the notice and contact the listed party and make a good-faith effort to resolve the problem. In no case should a recall notice be ignored or thrown out without first being acted upon. Recall notices are issued for the most serious safety concerns and the best way to protect yourself and your family is to be proactive in keeping up with your vehicle’s care.