Your Guide to Auto Recalls

by Aryn Plax

Jan 26, 2021

Recalls occur after a particular vehicle model (or multiple models) experiences a recurring problem that negatively impacts consumers’ safety. Sometimes, manufacturers are ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to do so. When recalls are issued, consumers receive notices in the mail that inform them of the defect, instruct them to return their vehicles and, if applicable, specify the repairs offered to address the defect.

If you are curious about past recalls for your vehicle, you can search for them in the NHTSA’s database. The link will take you to a page in which you can enter your VIN number. If you want to research any vehicle model, you may click the “vehicle” tab and search by year, make and model.

The results will feature recalls, investigations, complaints and manufacturer communications.

Click the number in the row of your desired vehicle and in the column titled “Recalls.” This will take you to a page featuring a list of recalls for that specific vehicle.

Click on any recall entry. It will feature a recall summary, which will include a list of the affected models and a brief description of the defect.

If applicable, the recall summary will also feature the remedy offered by the manufacturer.

Photo description: The underside of a vehicle.

There are often associated documents that feature remedy instructions, manufacturer notices to dealers, owner notification letters and technical service bulletins (TSBs). Also available on NHTSA’s website are other manufacturer communications, complaints and investigations.