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Check Your Car’s VIN for Recalls

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Car FireThe subject of recalls has been a frequent one on this blog lately, and for good reason. The recent revelation that neither used car dealers nor car rental agencies are legally required to perform recall-mandated servicing is of growing concern. Stories on the subject are starting to pop up all over the country.

Here in Colorado, such vehicles have already been found for sale in the city of Denver, as Marshall Zelinger, a content producer for ABC News 7, covered recently:

7NEWS also found car dealerships in the Denver metro area selling vehicles with open recalls.

‘Is that something that you check before I were to leave the lot with that vehicle?’ asked Zelinger to a salesmen.

‘We do our best to get all recalls done before they leave the lot,’ he said.

The problem exists in Arizona, as well, as this investigative report uncovers:

There are several ways for you to check out your vehicle to see if it’s under recall. All you need is your VIN number:

  • Carfax — You can get a free check though Carfax, but will have to pay a fee for a detailed one. One important thing to be aware of with Carfax is that not all auto manufacturer recalls show up on its reports. BMW, Volkswagen, and Toyota are three examples of car companies that do not report recalls to Carfax. It is a good starting point, but more research may be needed.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has a page online where you can research vehicle recalls. Its “Search for Recalls” page also allows you to refine your search according to the info you have available. Make and model number are the most important things to have on hand for this search.
  • There is also a page on the NHTSA website where you can look up Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) on your car. Manufacturers don’t usually alert drivers to TSBs. TSB’s are issued only after a large number of complaints about the same issue, and, unless the car is under warranty, the driver is responsible for the repair cost.

Make sure to protect yourself by checking out your potential used or rental car using the online tools above. There are more than enough causes of auto accidents, so let’s do our best to cross mechanical failure off that list.

Image by OfficerGreg (Greg Matthews), used under its Creative Commons license.


My daughter and I first consulted with Dan Rosen after a very serious auto accident. Dan had several phone conferences with me, and Tracie was available whenever I called. We would recommend personal injury attorney Dan Rosen to anyone!
Sally from Denver, Colorado

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