- A new NHTSA rule will require automakers to provide consumers with the ability to search for recall information by VIN.
- The new policy is an improvement on the more common existing search by vehicle make and model.
- Manufacturers who don't currently offer VIN searching will be required to do so by August 14, 2014.
WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday announced a new rule that will require large-volume automakers to provide consumers with a free online search tool that will allow easy access to recall information by VIN (vehicle identification number).
Manufacturers will still be required to provide vehicle owners with direct notice of recalls within 60 days of notifying NHTSA that a recall is occurring.
Active recall information is currently available online at the NHTSA Web site through a search by make and model. The intention of the new rule is to make the search process simpler and faster, as well as allowing owners and potential buyers to access data on a specific vehicle.
Some companies, including Chrysler, GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota, already provide VIN searching for recalls on their Web sites, but those who don't will need to comply by August 14, 2014. The new policy, which also applies to large-volume motorcycle manufacturers, mandates that the data be updated at least weekly.
Additionally, the new rule requires that manufacturers inform NHTSA about the details of its vehicles' propulsion systems and crash-avoidance technology. This information will assist the agency in identifying trends related to those systems.
The goal is to increase the number of vehicle defects that are remedied. According to the NHTSA, only about 70 percent of recalled vehicles are actually repaired, leaving a significant number of drivers at risk from potentially serious problems.
"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in that effort," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland added: "By making individual VIN searches readily available, we're providing another service to car, light truck and motorcycle owners and potential owners — the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle they own, or that they are thinking of buying, is safe."
The Association of Global Automakers issued a statement saying it was pleased with the NHTSA announcement.
Edmunds says: This kind of specific recall data, available easily and quickly online, should help keep vehicle owners and shoppers more fully informed of potential problems.