NHTSA Providing Access To Free VIN Searches

Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S was just one of many vehicles affected by recalls this year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is trying to make it easier for consumers to know their vehicles are safe by providing the tools for free VIN searches. This will ensure consumers are able to check the status of recalls on vehicles.

The ability to pull up a recall history on a vehicle and know if it’s been completed on a given vehicle will help both those looking to purchase a car and those just trying to be sure they’re up to date on their own vehicles. The planned requirement to provide free VIN searches will affect both automakers and motorcycle manufacturers.

Access to the free VIN search will be made available to consumers online. The information contained in the database will need to be updated weekly, ensuring that records are as current as possible.

Some automakers already offer free VIN searches that provide information on their vehicles so they won’t need to make any changes to be in compliance. Other manufacturers will have until August 14, 2014 to comply with the new rule.

Searches on the NHTSA website are currently limited to just vehicle make and model. Searching by VIN instead will give consumers access to specific vehicle information. They’ll know if their exact car, or the one they’re about to buy, currently has an outstanding recall that has yet to be addressed.

The NHTSA hopes that providing this additional information will help consumers be that much safer on the nation’s roads. Their final rule will affect large volume car, light truck and motorcycle manufacturers only. They will need to have all the vehicle information by VIN available to consumers on their websites.

They will also be required to include information on propulsion system and crash avoidance technologies available in each vehicle to help the NHTSA more easily identify possible defects in those systems.

Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.