Searching for potential recalls on your own car and researching automotive safety in general has suddenly become a lot easier. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has come into the 21st century and now has a searchable database to find information about vehicle recalls.
The dashboard is updated daily, is easily searchable, and exportable online. Before now, the database had to be exported manually, then combed through via Microsoft Access or Excel to find anything. Now, you can now see recalls, complaints, manufacturer communications, or any sort of NHTSA investigations about most mainstream cars, without the need for a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number, the 17-digit code on your registration) or some complicated form-filling and data parsing software.
“This new dashboard provides unprecedented transparency into the recall process,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator in a press release. “More than 50 years of recall data are now easily available to the media, researchers, safety advocates, and anyone interested in learning more about vehicle safety. This initiative is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s commitment to safety on our roadways, and it provides increased transparency and accountability to the American people.”
As a writer here at Car Bibles and somebody who buys a lot of cars, this makes my job a lot easier. I can quickly fact-check or add relevant data from the database right into my posts. For you, it means you can easily research data about your vehicles or future purchases, or maybe even your current car. Are you having transmission issues or some other weird issue that no one can seem to figure out? Check the database, you might not be alone. Are you about to purchase a car, and you’re not sure if it’s part of a recall? Run the VIN, they’ll tell you if work needed to be done.
The NHTSA database isn’t just for cars either; it has data on child car seats, tires, and other automotive add-ons. People sell used and discount car-seats all the time — how would you ever know if they’re safe to use? Well, check the database.
The database isn’t new information, but the key thing here is that NHTSA has done a good job organizing it and making it accessible. Knowledge is power!