Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? Consider checking your vehicle for open recalls

January 3, 2018

Become a safer driver in just a few minutes by visiting  http://www.checktoprotect.org/#/, to conduct a fast, free search for open recalls on your car. By entering a vehicle’s year, Identification Number (VIN), make and model you cVehicle an access a list of potential open recalls. The VIN can be found in the lower left corner of a car’s windshield or on the inside of the driver-side door, or on your vehicle’s registration card and possibly on insurance documentation.

Drivers who have open recalls on their vehicles can visit a local authorized dealership to have them repaired for free.

Check To Protect is a national campaign designed to encourage drivers to search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) open recall database by educating drivers about the staggering number of vehicles with unrepaired recalls and underscores the need to promptly fix recalls once drivers become aware of them.

According to NHTSA, there are more than 53 million—or more than one in four—vehicles on the road with unresolved safety recalls. Neglecting recalls could lead to costly vehicle damage and can jeopardize the safety of motorists on the roads.

Launched in June by the National Safety Council (NSC) and founding coalition member, FCA US, Check To Protect focuses on informing all motorists of the online tool, particularly owners of older and used vehicles.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers, the recall compliance rate for vehicles up to four years old is 83 percent; the rate decreases significantly to 44 percent for vehicles five to 10 years old. The drop in compliance is attributed to the difficultly in tracking owners of older and used vehicles. Since drivers expect to receive alerts about recalls, they do not tend to check for themselves.

The NSC (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where they can make the most impact.


Watch out for non-DOL websites

October 31, 2017
Example of a website that is NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Example of a website that is NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Be careful when considering any licensing or vehicle registration transaction on non-DOL websites.

While many websites offer online services, there is only one official website for the Washington State Department of Licensing:  dol.wa.gov.

Unofficial websites typically charge additional fees.  They may even charge for services that are free at dol.wa.gov.

Worse yet, unofficial websites might never deliver the service you paid to receive.

For a safe, secure transaction without additional fees, please visit dol.wa.gov.

VIDEO


Buyer beware as water-damaged vehicles flood the market

September 12, 2017

Heavy rain and flooding caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has resulted in damage to hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks in the southern region of the United States.

Washington residents should exercise caution when shopping for used vehicles in coming months. Water-damaged vehicles are expected to be cycled back onto the national market at auto auctions and used car dealerships.

Water damage is not always obvious at first glance and significant mechanical, safety and health risks can go undetected.

Knowing how to identify signs of a flood damaged vehicle can help you avoid serious safety hazards and monetary loss down the line.

Floodwater causes rust and damages major mechanical parts and safety systems such as the engine, transmission, air bags and antilock brakes. Electrical systems are especially susceptible to water damage, because onboard computers are often located in low points of the vehicle.

How to avoid purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle:

  • Have a pre-purchase inspection completed by a trusted mechanic.
  • Look at the title to check date and location of transfer, if the car came from a flood impacted area and if the title is stamped “salvage.” Ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater and request proof in writing on the bill of sale.
  • Use an online vehicle history tracking service to investigate the vehicle’s past. Examples: NICB, AutoCheck, Carfax
  • Check gauges on the dashboard for accuracy and visible signs of water damage.
  • Test lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner multiple times. Flex the wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack – wet wires will become brittle as they dry and can fail without warning.
  • Check trunk, glove compartment and under seats for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for upholstery and carpeting that is discolored, fits too loosely or does not match the original interior.
  • Check for a well-defined water line and musty odors resulting from mildew.

For additional information on flood-damaged vehicles and how to spot them, visit this link.


New web tool helps consumers identify vehicle safety recalls

December 5, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that vehicle recalls are at an all-time high, meaning millions of unfixed and unsafe vehicles are on the road.

NHTSA’s new online search tool lets you enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to quickly learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.

You can find NHTSA’s new VIN search tool at www.safercar.gov/VIN.

NHTSA stresses that vehicles in need of safety-related repairs should be fixed as soon as possible, and that doing so could save lives.


DOL vehicle licensing system will be down on December 10 for system replacement

November 23, 2016

drives-logoOn December 12, 2016, the Washington State Department of Licensing will begin using a new, state-of-the-art computer system for all vehicle and boat title and registration transactions statewide. This new system replaces a 30-year-old, text-based system with a modern system used successfully in several other states across the country.

The launch of this new system will have a few customer service impacts both before and after it is turned on Dec. 12:

  • Online vehicle tab renewal will be offline from midnight on Dec. 6 until the new system is turned on Dec. 12. Other vehicle-related online services, like online filing of a report of sale, online vehicle or boat change of address, and other types of vehicle or boat online transactions or look-ups, will be offline from the evening of Friday, Dec. 9 until the new system is turned on Dec. 12.
  • Licensing offices across the state may close a little early on Friday, Dec. 9 to ensure all transactions are finalized prior to shutting down the old computer system on Friday evening.
  • All vehicle licensing offices will be closed on Saturday, Dec. 10.
  • Following the launch on Dec. 12, customers may experience longer office wait times as vehicle licensing office staff become comfortable processing transactions using the new system. DOL is asking customers for patience in the days immediately following the launch.

“The new system is a tremendous new tool to make our jobs faster and easier,” Licensing Director Pat Kohler said. “We’ve invested in training to teach our users how to use it, but until they get comfortable processing real transactions with real customers, we expect office wait times to be a little longer than usual.”

Vehicle licensing customers can avoid longer wait times by taking care of annual tab renewals in vehicle licensing offices prior to Dec. 9 or online prior to Dec. 6.

The new system, called DRIVES, is being rolled out in two phases between Dec. 2016 and June 2018. The first phase replaces DOL’s obsolete vehicle and boat titling and registration computer systems. The second phase, scheduled for June 2018, will replace DOL’s obsolete driver licensing systems.

When completed, the new DRIVES system will provide all of our customers, employees and business partners with better, more reliable systems and processes, provide more accurate records for law enforcement use, and allow for faster and easier system changes to support new or changing laws and business processes.


Buyer beware of flood-damaged vehicles for sale

September 16, 2016

OLYMPIA—Following recent flooding in Louisiana that left as many as 100,000 vehicles seriously damaged, unsuspecting buyers across the nation are being warned to do their homework before purchasing a used vehicle.

Many of these vehicles are expected to be transported from state to state, repaired and put back on the market at auto auctions, used car dealerships, and even by private sellers.

Consumers in Washington should take extra precautions by adding flood damage to the list of concerns to be aware of when purchasing a used vehicle.

After being cleaned up, these vehicles may look like any other vehicle on the surface. However, there are significant mechanical, safety and health risks associated with flood-damaged vehicles.

Dirty floodwater causes rust and damages major mechanical parts and safety systems such as engines, air bags, anti-lock brakes and transmissions. The water also damages electrical systems, especially on-board computers that are often located under seats or in other low points in vehicles.

These tips can help to spot potential flood-damaged vehicles:

  • Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
  • Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.”
  • Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
  • Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
  • If the car’s history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.

“Flood cars” imported to Washington risk public safety

November 12, 2015

OLYMPIA—Expect the impact of killer floods in Texas and king tides in South Carolina to spread beyond those regional economies as thousands of flood damaged vehicles find their way into other states, including Washington.

While it’s not necessarily illegal to sell a salvaged “flood car,” some sellers are unaware of the vehicle’s true history or wouldn’t disclose it if they did. So, it’s up to the consumer to be vigilant when car shopping.

The first step every consumer should take when they find a vehicle is to check its identification number (VIN). The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck service is free, but may not be as comprehensive as a service like Carfax. And, neither is a defense against purchasing an unreported flood car or one with an altered title.

Flood damage can be hard to spot on a vehicle that has been pulled from floodwaters and thoroughly cleaned. They look like any other vehicle, but are a significant risk to public safety because of compromised electronic and mechanical systems.

Dirty floodwater causes rust and damages major mechanical parts and onboard computers that are often located under seats or in other low points in vehicles.

These tips can help to spot potential flood-damaged vehicles:

  • Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
  • Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.
  • Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
  • Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
  • If the car’s history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.

The playlist below features two videos that address how to identify possible signs of a flood damaged vehicle.