From Toyota’s unprecedented $1.2 billion settlement with the Justice Department to General Motors’ recall of 1.6 million vehicles over faulty ignition switches, vehicle recalls have dominated the news lately. While companies are, appropriately, penalized for failing to notify the public and the government of potentially harmful defects, we often fail to heed their warnings.
Over the past 20 years, the number of vehicle recalls issued has more than doubled, but, as vice president of Edmunds.com Scott Oldham recently told NPR, “most recalls go unnoticed by the general public.”
One reason consumers are missing recall notices is that we may be mistaking them for junk mail. NPR reports that many automakers mail their recall notices and sometimes not even first-class.
NHTSA Acts to Help Consumers Identify Recall Mailings
Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that all manufacturers must use a distinctive label on required mailing to notify owners of recalled vehicles or equipment. Restricted to recalling manufacturers, the labels will not only ensure consumers quickly recognize notices for recalled vehicles, child restraints, and tires, but also that they can distinguish the notices from misleading sales and marketing materials that could lead them to unnecessarily purchase expensive products and services not officially associated with the recall.
Want to Receive Recall Notifications?
The NHTSA offers a couple of tools to help you stay on top of recalls: register your cars, tires, and car seats with the agency and it will email you recall notifications; if you’d like recall alerts sent directly to your smartphone, download the Safercar app (available for Apple and Android devices).
Those among us with used cars can visit www.safercar.gov to search for recalls that may affect us.
Just as automakers have a duty to let us know when their products pose a threat to our safety, we are also responsible for staying informed on safety issues and recalls.
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What do you do to stay on top of the latest recall news? Would you know if your vehicle was recalled?