It’s official. NHTSA has issued the final rule. And the dealers who are fighting against legislation to stop them from selling unsafe recalled used cars to the public were wrong. Contrary to their claims, NHTSA opted not to create a single, centralized database, since the vast majority of auto manufacturers already make safety recall info available online, searchable by VIN, on their websites. The manufacturers argued, in their public comments, that requiring them to also submit the data to NHTSA would be redundant and inefficient, and NHTSA agreed. No centralized database is needed, in order for the public to have access to safety recall info in a timely fashion.
Here’s NHTSA’s news release, with a link to a pdf of the final rule at the bottom: http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA+to+Provide+Free+VIN+Searches+to+Help+Consumers+Check+Cars,+Light+Trucks+and+Motorcycles+for+Uncompleted+Recalls
Highlights of the rule: Applies to all manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 or more light vehicles / year and manufacturers of 5,000 or more motorcycles Builds on existing data that the vast majority of auto manufacturers are already providing to the public, searchable by VIN, via their own websites Data has to go back at least 15 years from the date when the recall is issued Manufacturers must update the data at least every 7 days, and include the date of the most recent update Data must be available free of charge Data must be searchable by VIN Hyper-links must be located on the home page of each manufacturer’s website What this means to consumers — if you want to buy a car from a manufacturer like BMW that had refused to post safety recall info online, you won’t have to bother calling their toll-free number — you’ll be able to access the info online, assuming you have access to a computer and the internet. Otherwise, you can still find out by calling the manufacturer’s toll-free number or contacting a local dealer of that make.