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How Can I Find Out If My Car or Tires Have Been Recalled?

July 29, 2023Automotive Defects

If you are planning to hit the road this summer with family or friends, make sure your car is up to date with its safety records. The last thing you want is any type of defect hampering your trip. If you do find that your car or tires are defective, a recall could be needed. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a recall is necessary when a motor vehicle or item of motor equipment (including tires) does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard or when there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment. Figuring out if your car or tires have been recalled is important to the safety of yourself, your passengers, and other drivers. 

How Do I Find Out if My Car or Tires Have Been Recalled? 

The main way to see if your vehicle has been recalled is by its Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN for short. A VIN contains 17 characters unique code given to your vehicle. VINs can be found on the lower left corner of your car’s windshield, on your door placard, or on your insurance card.  

Once you’ve located your VIN, enter the code in the search bar at Once entered, the search tool will show if your vehicle has been affected by a safety recall in the last 15 years. The search tool also reveals any safety recalls from major light automakers, motorcycle manufacturers and some truck manufacturers.   

I Think I’ve Found a Defect, Now What Should I Do? 

Before reporting a potential defect, it is important to understand what NHTSA defines as a safety-related defect. According to NHTSA. Some examples include: 

  •   Steering failure 
  •   Fuel system component failure, resulting in leakage of fuel and potentially causing a fire 
  •   Accelerator controls that break or stick 
  •   Cracked or broken wheels, causing a loss of control 
  •   Air bags fail to deploy or deploy at unexpected times 
  •   Unexpected break of engine cooling fan
  •   Windshield wiper fails to operate properly 
  •   Seat and/or seat backs fail unexpectedly 
  •   Wiring or electrical system malfunctions 
  •   Car ramps or jacks that may collapse 
  •   Car seats/booster seats that have broken seat belts, buckles or component parts 

If you notice any of these defects in your vehicle, report the problem to the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. You can also visit and select “Report a Safety Problem” to report a potential defect. 

What is the Recall Process? 

NHTSA has a three-step process when assessing a potential recall. 

The first step of the recall process is reporting your problem. Once entered in the NHTSA database, the agency will wait to see if similar reports of the one you described arise. If this occurs, an investigation into the safety-defect will likely be launched. 

The second step of the recall process is an investigation by the NHTSA into the reported complaints. The investigation is broken down into four parts: 

  •   Screening: NHTSA conducts a preliminary review into the alleged defect and decides on whether to open an investigation. 
  •   Analysis: NHTSA then analyzes any petitions calling for a defect investigation and/or reviews of safety-related recalls. 
  •   Investigation: An investigation led by NHTSA into the alleged safety defect occurs. It ends with a notification to the manufacturer of recall recommendations, or the agency is unable to identify a defect. 
  •   Recall Management: NHTSA will oversee the efficiency of recalls by filing recall notices and communicating with owners of the recall.

The third and final step of the recall process is the recall itself. The manufacturers of the defect must fix the problem by either repairing it, replacing it, offer a refund or repurchase the vehicle itself.  

If you have sustained a serious injury or have lost a loved one in an accident caused by a defective car, automobile component part, or set of tires, you should call Ramsey Law Group. With over 100 automotive product liability cases won and millions of dollars collected for our clients, we at Ramsey Law Group have the knowledge and experience to fight for the justice that you and your family deserve. Reach out to us today for a free consultation about your potential product liability claim.