WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is scrambling to resolve issues with its Web site as frantic consumers search for information about whether their vehicles are affected by the expanded Takata airbag recall.
Consumers were experiencing intermittent problems with the Web site on Wednesday morning.
U.S. safety regulators ordered Japanese supplier Takata to expand the recall of potentially defective airbags to cover nearly 34 million vehicles on Tuesday, making it the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history.
The inflators in Takata airbags could rupture, sending metal shards into the passenger compartment and causing serious injury or death, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At least six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to Takata airbag ruptures.
NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told Edmunds on Wednesday that from May 11 to May 13, the safercar.gov VIN search app averaged just under 10,000 daily searches. Consumers use the vehicle identification number or VIN Lookup Tool on the NHTSA Web site to determine if their vehicle is included in the recall.
"As of 9:30 p.m. yesterday, the latest figures I have, we handled 440,000 VIN searches," Trowbridge wrote in response to a query. "For comparison, the previous daily record was in the 100,000 range. In one 30-minute period last night, we had 90,000 VIN searches — again, that's almost as many searches in one 30-minute period as our previous 24-hour record."
He said the statistics should give consumers a "sense of the issues."
Trowbridge said NHTSA took several steps before yesterday's dramatic announcement to add search capacity, including moving much of the standing content on safercar.gov to separate servers to clear server capacity for traffic related to the Takata announcement.
"Those steps allowed us to handle traffic far in excess of even our busiest previous daily record, but as you noticed the service has been intermittent," he wrote.
Trowbridge emphasized that NHTSA will not have individual VIN data for the Takata expansion until it receives that data from affected automakers.
"That will take several days," he wrote. "We're working with the automakers to provide that information as quickly as possible. But until we have it, VIN searches will not include the recall expansion announced yesterday."
Edmunds says: Consumers should practice patience as they search the NHTSA Web site for Takata recall information. They can also check here for further updates and keep in touch with their dealership's service department for the latest information.