Consumers Ambivalent About Recalls

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announces the largest vehicle recall in U.S. history, automakers will face an uphill battle to convince the more than 34 million impacted owners to take their cars in for repairs. Despite the dangers, research from Autotrader – the most-visited third party automotive site – shows that consumers are largely ambivalent to recalls.

Autotrader research shows that when consumers are made aware of a recall on their vehicle, only 56 percent take it in for repairs every time. Only 61 percent of consumers make an effort to stay informed about recalls on vehicles they own, and only 35 percent research recalls when shopping for a vehicle to purchase.

“The huge number of high-profile recalls recently makes it even more imperative for automakers to get consumers to come into dealerships for repairs and for consumers to proactively check to see if their cars are recalled,”  said Michelle Krebs, Autotrader senior analyst. “The record-setting recall of vehicles equipped with potentially flawed Takata airbags could ultimately result in new approaches by the government and manufacturers on how recalls are addressed.”

Autotrader’s expert editors urge both vehicle owners and car shoppers to visit the NHTSA website ( enter their vehicle information number (VIN) and determine if a vehicle they own or are shopping for is impacted by a recall, and if so, take action.

“On the vast majority of vehicles, the VIN can be found on the driver’s side where the dashboard meets the windshield. The easiest way to see it is to stand outside the vehicle and look down at this area. It can also be found on purchase and lease agreements,” Brian Moody, Autotrader site editor said. “If you own or lease the vehicle, the repairs are free – simply make an appointment at your local dealer. If a vehicle you’re shopping for has open recalls, make sure to ask either the dealer or seller if the repairs have been performed. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof, and if the repairs have not been performed, request that they are before you buy.”

Even if your car isn’t on the list today, Moody says it’s important to always stay vigilant and check back frequently.

“For example, the Takata recall expansion is in the early stages and all of the impacted VINs aren’t in the online tool yet. NHTSA is also saying the recall has the potential to expand or contract based on additional testing and information from the automakers,” Moody says. “While NHTSA says the cars impacted by the Takata recall can be driven during this investigative process, the lesson here is that being mindful of recalls is an ongoing and important part of vehicle ownership.”

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