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  www.CheckToProtect.org, to conduct a fast, free search for open recalls on your car. By entering a vehicle’s year, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), make and model you can 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.


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.


“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.