Does my car have an active recall?

Aside from the folks who regularly read automotive enthusiasts and news websites, most people hear about recalls strictly from the news or a viral story on social media. It might seem like recalls are irregular or rare occurrences, but the opposite is actually true. Each week Jack Ward Fire Consultants notifies you about fire related recalls, but there are many other reasons cars are recalled and it’s important to know how to find them.

Today’s reality is that every single manufacturer has issued recalls, both big and small. No automaker is exempt, and recalls have become a reality of the imperfect manufacturing process we currently abide by. That’s sometimes thanks to poor production and other times due to human error. Lucky for consumers whose cars have been infected by recalls, taking control of the situation is easier than you might think. 

The internet has been a great disseminator of safety information about your specific vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has pages that list customer complaints, manufacturer service safety bulletins, and active and old recalls. Before you begin exploring the pages upon pages of terrible things that have occurred to your vehicle, it’s best to understand how recalls work, and how you proceed if your vehicle has one.

What Is a Recall?

A recall occurs when the NHTSA determines that a vehicle has an issue detrimental to its safety or its emissions and the vehicle no longer meets legal safety standards and requirements.

What Do Recalls Include?

A recall could be for virtually any type of issue that affects the safety of the driver and the vehicle. Some examples we’ve seen include exploding airbags, failing infotainment systems, missing bolts, corrosion, risk of fire, exposed wiring, parts that could fall off, loss of power, jerky transmissions, or unintended acceleration.

How Many Vehicles are Included in Recalls?

This can vary between a single vehicle to millions, depending on the issue. Every recall is different.

How Do I Know if My Car Has an Active Recall?

Some people find out about recalls the old-fashioned way — manufacturers send out a notice through the mail. For those without that notice, the quickest way to check if your car has a recall is by visiting and using your vehicle identification number (VIN).

Click the link above, input your vehicle’s VIN, and the tool will identify any recalls associated with your vehicle.

There are also some alternative methods to check if your vehicle has a recall. Your vehicle’s manufacturer often has recall lookup tools just like the NHTSA and we’ve listed them below for your convenience. You can also call your local dealership and ask them to check. The recall-specific phone numbers for each manufacturer are listed below.

Lastly, it’s possible to sign up for regular emails from the NHTSA that list every new recall that is announced.

What Is a VIN?

A VIN is a vehicle’s individualized serial code used to place it within the government’s records. It’s now made up of a combination of 17 letters and numbers, and you need it for numerous reasons such as insurance, selling the vehicle, checking history before you purchase a used car, or checking if the vehicle has an active recall.

Where Can I Find My Car’s VIN?

A car’s VIN usually can be found on the lower portion of the driver’s side dashboard/windshield, within the information displayed on the driver’s side door jamb, on the vehicle’s title, or on your registration. You also might find it on your insurance card/information.

Every Manufacturer’s Recall Website and Contact Information

Use these tools to determine whether or not your vehicle is in safe operating condition.

















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Video: The NHTSA Quickly Explains Recalls

Learn more from this helpful video put together by the NHTSA.