Track Recalls

Get Alerts on Recalls

Find VIN NumberThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a recall lookup for VIN numbers located at: www.safercar.gov/vinlookup Which is designed to help you figure out whether your vehicle has been subject to one of a number of recalls. Most recently there has been a concern about airbag inflators that may throw out pieces of metal when the airbag is deployed in a car crash. This is most likely to happen in areas with high humidity, where the vehicle has been kept for a number of years and components of the inflator have corroded. Therefore, the nature of the recall is primarily focused on high humidity states like Florida so those airbags can be recalled first. The model years on these vehicles stretch back to 2001 and are as recent as 2007.

The high humidity states and territories in the airbag recall include Hawaii, Florida, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands as well as Saipan, where my Grandfather got malaria during World War II. The vehicles affected include specific GM, Toyota, BMW, Mazda, and Nissan vehicles manufactured by the Takata company. The Safercar.gov vin lookup will tell consumers whether there is an open recall on their car, and people can sign up for recall alerts while on the site. The advantage of such alerts is that they often go out before manufacturers mail out letters.

Hidden and Stealth Recalls

As a side note, vehicle recall VIN lookups need to be taken as a guideline and not a reason to believe that your car is a lemon. Just about every vehicle has minor recall notices associated with it, and every once in a while a major notice will come out as well. For example, I drove a Ford vehicle which had a recall on programming for emissions controls, and have also seen a few “stealth recalls” go by when vehicles were serviced at the dealership. Usually you can see these recalls on the receipt where a free repair or replacement has been done.

What if your vehicle is on a recall list?

Normally if your vehicle is subject to major recalls, you will get a notice in the mail with a red envelope. Your dealership may also send out a notice. Most minor recalls are taken care of at the dealership during regularly scheduled maintenance, but bigger recalls, or ones related to vehicles that aren’t even manufactured and sold anymore are handled differently. Typically the process involves fixing the defect at no cost to you but your time. It is very unusual that you would get a refund on the car, but your dealer is almost always happy to accept the car as a trade-in on a newer model that suits your current life crisis.

For the most recent major recall, the number of affected vehicles adds up to 4,744,309. Naturally many of these vehicles are no longer on the road. Major model names include Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, Nissan Pathfinder, BMW 3 Series, Buick Lesabre, and Chevrolet Monte Carlo as well as Oldsmobile Aurora. If you find out from the NHTSA site that your car is subject to a recall, your dealership may have more information. It is important to remember that many dealerships must get special tools and training in place to handle recalls, and then the most affected vehicles may be given priority so they are fixed first. In the recent case of GM ignition recalls, the sheer number of vehicles involved meant that people had to wait their turn, and were advised not to have any key chains attached to their ignition keys, which can be a bit of a challenge considering the number of keys people keep handy.