How to Get Better Information about Safety and Defect Problems on Your Car

Consumer Auto – Oct. 2016
How to Get Better Information about Safety and Defect Problems on Your Car

Carmakers regularly share information about car safety and defect issues with dealers in warranty policy updates, technical service bulletins, and other communications. Federal law makes clear that these communications should be available to the public. But carmakers often seek to restrict access to this information, even though it is critical to consumers because it can reveal serious safety issues and design defects that, if not fixed in a timely way, will undermine the value and reliability of their cars.

The good news is that a new Maryland law protects the ability of Maryland car dealers to share that information with their customers. And that the federal National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is improving access to those communications on its website. Here’s how to make those efforts work for YOU.

Maryland’s New Law Lets Dealers Share Data

New language added to Maryland’s transportation law on Oct. 1, 2016 prohibits carmakers from taking any “adverse action” against dealers for sharing any communication from carmakers that impacts “motor vehicle safety, durability, reliability, or performance” with any customer who has bought or serviced a car at that dealership.

So if you have a concern about how your car is working or want to see what the carmaker may know about possible design defects, ASK your dealer or service manager to share that information. MD’s new law enables dealers to stand up for that customers by sharing it with YOU.

Getting Safety Information from NHTSA

If you don’t work with a dealer or aren’t satisfied wih the information you’re getting from your dealer, you should now also be able to find both information about recalls and all safety and defect-related communications from carmakers to dealers on the website of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) But finding the information takes a series of steps.

Here’s the process:

• Step 1: Click on this link to NHTSA’s site http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues

• Step 2: That will take you to a screen where you can enter the make and model and year of your car. Enter that information and then click “Go.”

• Step 3: You will then get a screen with search results. There you can click on tabs for “Recalls,” “Investigations,” “Complaints” or “Manufacuturer Communications.” Under the communications tab, you will find a link to “Associated Documents” related to those communications.

You can also find out about any recalls on your car by clicking on www.safercar.gov and then entering the VIN number you can find on your car’s windshield or title.