The automobile recall process has some flaws, but two trade associations have plans to improve the system. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, which represent a number of major auto manufacturers, are attempting to create a comprehensive database for states and manufacturers to coordinate recalls. The creators of the database estimate that is should be functional by the first half of 2018.
Operation of the Database
The database would enable bulk searches of vehicle identification numbers (VINs). The VIN is a code used by the auto industry to identify cars. The VIN is a unique number; there are no two vehicles with the same sequence. Currently VIN searches are not simple to execute, although they are easier than searching through individual databases.
The new system would be designed to deliver VINs that are subject to ongoing safety recalls. The database would describe each problem associated with the recall and how it should be corrected. State motor vehicle departments, car registrars, state inspection authorities, insurance companies, and dealerships are some of the entities that would benefit from access to the new recall system.
The Role of NHTSA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a system to allow car owners to search for recalls with their VINs. But most car owners are not aware that this database exists. Even though NHTSA has no requirements for a comprehensive database, such a system could be helpful in getting compliance from car owners in recall notices.
To make notifications easier, NHTSA is also prepared to issue a rule requiring automakers to inform car owners about recalls in an electronic format. This notification would supplement the first-class mail notice that is already mandated by NHTSA.
State Efforts to Assist with Recalls
Some states have considered legislation to help raise awareness of recalls and promote consumer compliance with recall notices. For example, in California, legislation was passed that required departments of motor vehicles to incorporate a reminder notice to check a car’s recall status when sending a form for registration renewal. New York and Florida have also tried to pass legislation that encourages consumers to look for recall notices.
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