Consumer Alert: Government’s handling of car recalls
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.