Does your vehicle have a recall issued for it? One in four vehicles on American roads today do. Now a US pilot program in Maryland is targeting those unfixed recalls by providing additional notices to drivers. Find out if you are affected, and what to do if you have unfixed recalls on your vehicle.
Unfixed Recalls All Around You
This year, 63 million vehicles are on the roads, actively being driven, with unfixed recalls for safety defects, according to a Carfax study released earlier this year. That amounts to 1 in 4 cars on the road, and 34% more unfixed recalls than there were in 2016.
Many of these recalls relate to the international Takata airbag defects, which impacted 22 brands by 19 auto manufacturers, and affected more than 42 million vehicles. That number will continue to rise, with up to 70 million airbag inflators scheduled for recall by 2019.
Defect Notices Don’t Reach Used Car Drivers
When an automaker, or other manufacturer, receives notice of a product defect, it is required to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If a recall is issued, the manufacturer must then send notice to all known vehicle owners affected by the recall. Motorists are then able to take their vehicles to a dealership, where the repairs are usually made for free.
But many drivers choose to ignore defect notices. Busy schedules, family obligations, and lack of readily available replacement parts can keep even well-meaning motorists from making the necessary repairs. Others never receive notice at all. Auto manufacturers often have difficulty reaching those who purchased their vehicles used, especially if the sale was from the original owner and for cash. In these cases, the original owner, and not the current driver may receive the notice, leaving the used car driver with unfixed recalls he or she doesn’t even know about.
US Pilot Program to Issue Unfixed Recall Notices
Now the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are looking for new ways to notify drivers of unfixed recalls. Using federal funds under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), the NHTSA is awarding the Maryland Department of Transportation $222,300 in grant funds to launch a pilot program.
The program will update and notify drivers of open recalls on their vehicle when they renew their registration. It will also educate owners on the defect and the details of the recall at the same time. Maryland will study the use of the pilot program and statewide unfixed recall rates for two years, and then report the outcomes to the federal government. Whether similar programs will come to other states in the future depends on the outcome of the pilot program in Maryland.
Is Your Car Affected by Unfixed Recalls?
You don’t have to be a Maryland resident or wait for a national roll-out to find out if your car is safe. Use the NHTSA’s website to search for defect notices using your car’s 17-character VIN. You can find this number under the driver’s side windshield, under the steering wheel, or on the information panel inside the doors. It is also the “Vehicle No.” listed on your Michigan registration. Completing the search will list each recall associated with your year, make, and model, and let you know how to redeem them.
You can also use the NHTSA site to sign up for safety alerts related to your vehicle. If any future recalls are issued, you will receive an email notifying you of the risk.
Unfixed recalls on defective vehicles can cause serious injury accidents, and even death. When you receive a recall notice, take it seriously. A minor inconvenience now could prevent loss and trouble down the road.