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A whopping 50 million vehicles on the road have open recalls. Thousands of Ford, Nissan, Hyundai and Honda vehicles were recently added to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list. Tap or click here to see if your model is affected.
Perhaps the manufacturer discovers that a part on a particular model is wearing out faster than expected and decides to replace it for everyone. Faulty or outdated software can create serious problems. And sometimes the problem is more pressing, like the Takata airbag recall that began in 2013.
If you have a car, this article is for you. I’m going to tell you how you can go online to find out if your car is subject to a recall and get email notifications about future recalls. You should also share this valuable information with your family and friends.
1. Find your vehicle’s VIN
The first step is to find your 17-digit vehicle identification number, or VIN for short.
The VIN can be found on most vehicles by standing behind the front windshield and looking down into the lower corner of the dashboard on the driver’s side. It can be a little hard to see, so watch carefully. In some vehicles, it is also printed on an emblem on the driver’s side door jamb.
If you can’t find your vehicle’s VIN, check its title or registration, or review your insurance documents.
By the way, it’s a good idea to take a picture of the VIN of the car so that it is always at hand. Tap or click to see 9 more photos you should always have on your phone.
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2. Update registration
Make sure your car manufacturer can contact you. This means that your registration is up to date and your current address is on file. Yes, you can find out about a serious recall from a letter in the mail.
Your first stop is checking your car. Look at the registration sticker in the corner of your plate to make sure the marked year is the current one. You can also visit your state motor vehicle department’s website to find out if you need to pay any fees or pass an emissions test to get your paperwork in effect.
Additional helpful resources: 10 tech company support phone numbers plus a secret way to find out waiting times
3. Use the NHTSA Recall Checker Tool
Once you have your VIN, visit National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall search page. Enter your VIN in the search box provided and the results will show you the number and type of safety recalls that apply to your particular vehicle. (If you don’t have a VIN, try looking up the year, make, and model of your vehicle.)
The search tool includes recalls of unrepaired vehicles for the past 15 calendar years. You’ll also see testimonials from major car manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers, and some medium and heavy truck manufacturers.
Let’s say you don’t get any results; good news! Your vehicle is not part of the current recall.
Professional advice: It’s also a good idea to look up the VIN when buying a used car to see if you need to deal with any security issues after you own it.
In addition to vehicle recalls, the NHTSA website is handy for checking recalls of automotive accessories such as car seats, tires, and other vehicle-related equipment.
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4. Be active
Just because your vehicle is currently not subject to a recall does not mean it will not be recalled in the future. To this end NHTSA also offers an email notification system. receive feedback alerts.
To register, enter your email address and select up to five car models, makes and years. You can also get an overview of all vehicle recalls each week and receive alerts for tire or car seat recalls.
The NHTSA website is also a great place to compare vehicle safety ratings, check your tires, and find out how easy it is to use a car seat. View the rankings page here.
5. Register with Carfax
Carfax collects various records of your vehicle, including accident reports, service schedules, and recall alerts. The best part is that it’s free.
To set up an account, go to carfax.com. Do not click “Get CARFAX Reports”. This will prompt you to pay for a full vehicle report, which is not what you want.
Instead, click Sign Up in the top right corner and create an account. Add your vehicle by searching by VIN or license plate.
After registration, you will receive a monthly report with open reviews of your car, its cost and services due.
What to do if your car is subject to a recall
Where do you take your car if it’s part of a recall? As a reminder, maintenance work is usually done at your dealership. Call them to set up an appointment. Having a recall number is handy, but they can also find information about the recall in their records.
The recall may be related to potentially dangerous issues, so schedule your vehicle service as soon as possible. Car dealerships usually offer a shuttle service. You can leave your car and they will pick you up when it is ready. Your dealer can even arrange for your vehicle to be towed if the recall is for a serious issue.
And remember, the dealership will do all recall repairs done to your vehicle free of charge. This includes parts and software.
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Find out about all the latest technologies at The Kim Commando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data breaches. Her daily tips, free newsletters and more can be found on her website at Komando.com.