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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has rolled out a free online tool allowing both used car shoppers and car owners to determine whether safety recall repairs were ever completed on a specific vehicle.
The online tool searches by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), using information supplied by most major automobile and motorcycle manufacturers regarding the status of repairs pursuant to any vehicle safety recalls issued over the past 15 years.
Database the Result of New Rule
In addition to making recall information searchable by VIN on the NHTSA website, individual auto manufacturers are now mandated to have recall information searchable by VIN on the manufacturer's own website. The new federal rules requiring the recall information database were announced last year, reports USA Today.
The information is the same on both manufacturers' and the NHTSA websites, but the NHTSA tool will compile information for all reporting automakers into one searchable database.
Using NHTSA's VIN Search Tool
NHTSA's online VIN search covers all safety recalls issued in the last 15 calendar years, noting whether the repairs required by the recall were completed on a specific vehicle. Users enter the VIN number of a vehicle -- typically found at the base of the windshield on the driver's side -- and the tool displays any repairs that have yet to be completed.
The VIN search will not show information about completed recall repairs, customer service or other non-safety recalls, recalls for international and ultra-luxury brand vehicles, and recalls that may have been recently announced.
2014 Auto Recalls
The rollout of the NHTSA's new database comes as two of the nation's largest automakers deal with sizable safety recalls. As you probably know, General Motors has issued numerous recalls affecting nearly 29 million vehicles so far this year. In July, Chrysler issued a recall for 1.5 million Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler vehicles over a wiring issue that has caused more than 60 fires.