The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now requiring car and motorcycle manufacturers to allow consumers to search online for recall information for a specific vehicle using its identification number. The agency issued a final rule mandating that all major manufacturers make the search feature available to consumers for free within a year. It will allow consumers to determine whether the vehicle is or was part of a recall, and whether it was fixed, according to NHTSA. Automakers such as Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Chrysler Group LLC already allow consumers to search for recall information on their websites using the vehicle identification number, known as a VIN. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement:
By making individual VIN searches readily available, we’re providing another service to car, light truck and motorcycle owners and potential owners — the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle they own, or that they are thinking of buying, is safe.
The feature will also be on the NHTSA website www.safercar.gov. Previously, consumers were only able to search for recall information by vehicle make and model year on the site, according to the agency. NHTSA said that the companies are required to update the recall information on the sites weekly.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) – a trade group representing 12 major manufacturers, including BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors Co. — said in a statement that it supported the rule. The group said:
We all want speedy repair of recalled vehicles, and the goal here is to increase recall completion rates through greater consumer awareness. Providing safety recall information on the websites of automakers is both effective and saves duplication of efforts by government and manufacturers.
Earlier this year, the NHTSA proposed a new direct final rulemaking procedure that would allow it to expedite the adoption of rules it considers “noncontroversial.” The agency said that the procedure will allow it to save time and agency resources by issuing a direct final rule adopting new amendments via an expedited process. It noted that the Administrative Procedure Act does not require notice and comment on rulemaking procedures when an agency “has good cause not to use them,” such as when it believes them to be unnecessary. That rule prompted outcry from the AAM about the potential threat to agency transparency, with the group saying that the agency’s willingness to dispense with transparency protections “raises eyebrows.”
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