Recalls have long been a way of life for automakers and buyers alike. But federal regulators have announced a critical new step to ensure that when a vehicle is subject to a safety order the necessary repairs actually get made.
Issued on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the new rules should prove a boon to owners and car shoppers alike as they make it easier to see if a vehicle has been subject to a recall and whether the problem was fixed. The government also will provide a searchable database.
"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in that effort," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Owners and potential buyers alike will soon be able to identify whether a safety recall for their specific vehicle is incomplete, using our free online search at SaferCar.gov."
It's one of the rare instances where industry, consumer advocates and regulators are in agreement, and it comes at a time when recalls appear to be on the rise again after years of steady declines.
"The goal here is to increase recall completion rates through greater consumer awareness," said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group, noting that the industry supports the plan for providing safety recall information on automakers' websites.
Under the new rule, all manufacturers will have to set up easy-to-access Web pages where people can enter a car, truck or crossover's Vehicle Identification Number to check its recall history. The rule also covers motorcycle manufacturers. NHTSA will require companies to update the information at least once a week.