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As a consumer, you may think that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does a good job of making sure defective cars get recalled and repaired. Not so, says the Government Accountability Office, who recently revealed that only 70 percent of recalled cars and trucks were repaired within 18 months.
The GAO wants the NHTSA to step up its efforts in notifying consumers, including improving their recall database website and providing notifications to used car buyers.
The GAO’s concern is legitimate, since many recalled vehicles are never repaired. If a car is sold to a family member or friend, it may be easy to provide contact information in the event of a recall; if a car is traded in to a dealership, it would likely be impossible to determine who the new owner of the vehicle is. Since manufacturers can’t track down owners not listed in their databases, the job of ensuring recall compliance would fall under the NHTSA’s jurisdiction.
The NHTSA currently has a searchable database of vehicle investigations and recalls, and consumers can sign up to receive e-mail alerts about vehicle recalls. Dealers will also perform recall repairs (generally at no charge to the consumer) even if a vehicle’s warranty has expired.
When in doubt, contact a local dealer, who can verify if a particular recall repair has been performed on your vehicle.