More on Recalls
The answer isn’t who, but rather what. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets the national safety standards and can influence — or in some cases order — an auto manufacturer to repair safety-related defects at no cost to the consumer. Even if the fix is something as minor as a missing washer or a faulty electrical connection, the manufacturer stands to lose millions of dollars in the process — it all depends on the number of cars and trucks affected by the recall, the cost of the replacement parts and the time it takes a technician to make the repair. So, as you can imagine, the automotive industry sometimes resists the idea of undergoing a full-scale recall.
Some auto manufacturers actually do make the first move when discovering potential faults or hazards in their cars or trucks, willingly starting the recall process on their own. Other companies need a little push from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), or even the courts, to start the recall process. The NHTSA recall process often starts when people discover flaws in vehicles they own or work on. Many people simply do not know that if a consumer finds a potential hazard in a car or truck, that person can get in touch with the NHTSA and report safety concerns.
There are three methods you can use to contact the NHTSA if you suspect a safety-related defect in your vehicle. You can take any (or all) of the following actions:
- Call the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Vehicle Safety Hotline: (888) 327-4236 or (800) 424-9153, toll free from anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- Report the issue online at the NHTSA’s vehicle safety Web site: //www.safercar.gov/
- Send a letter via U.S. Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Defects Investigation (NVS-210) 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE Washington, DC 20590
If you file a complaint, there’s a chance you may be contacted by an investigator from the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI). The ODI, an office within the NHTSA, conducts defect investigations to support the NHTSA’s efforts. But that’s not all it does. ODI investigators keep a close watch on manufacturers’ recall operations, too.
If enough consumers file a report about the same issue with the same make, model and year of vehicle, the NHTSA may decide to open an investigation. It might also help consumers in the future.