Consumer Alert: Government’s handling of car recalls

Posted: Updated:

Is the federal government doing enough to alert the public about recalls issued on automobiles?

About 191 million cars were recalled between 2012 and 2016, but an audit by the inspector general found that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s recall program is lacking proper oversight. The report found that the NHTSA doesn’t make sure that recalls are reported to the public quickly enough and does not verify that the recall completion rates reported by automakers.

“When the Office of the Inspector General – that’s the internal watchdog at the NHTSA – says that the NHTSA is doing a subpar job at overseeing its recalls, that’s something that should concern all of us,” says Jason Levine with the Center for Auto Safety. 

Levine’s group has been critical of the NHTSA's handling of recalls.

“Recalls only happen for two reasons: there's a defect on that car that's dangerous, or a violation of a federal regulation. They're not done for cosmetic reasons,” Levine says.

NHTSA has also been restricted by a lack of funding. The group conducted just 13 vehicle defect investigations last year - its fewest ever. It used to conduct more than 200 a year.

This is the third report that has been critical of the NHTSA’s handling of recalls in recent years. Consumers are reminded to do their own research when it comes to vehicle recalls if possible.

A list of active recalls issued for vehicles can be found at

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."