By Kelsey Mays on August 20, 2014
Used-car shoppers: Want to know if your prospective car has any recalls that haven't been done? After all, about 1 in 4 recalled cars never get their recall work done, which could stick future owners with potential safety hazards.
Now there's a place you can find this information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just launched a tool on its website where you can look up a car by its vehicle identification number to view its recalls. It's at www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. You can find the VIN at the base of the driver's side of the windshield, just beneath the glass.
It isn't just a tool to see what recalls have been announced on a prospective vehicle; it also shows you if those recalls have been completed or not on that specific car.
The database has been a long time coming; NHTSA announced plans for it in August 2013, setting a deadline of Aug. 14, 2014, for automakers to furnish the necessary data and update it weekly. Most automakers allow you to look up recall information by VIN on dedicated portals through their websites; NHTSA's site will have all makes and models.
You can also look up your own car to see if there are any outstanding recalls. Then, of course, you should visit your local dealership and have the recall addressed.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey