New NHTSA App Could Be a Vehicle Safety Game Changer


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just solved one of the biggest challenges to auto safety. The real question is why it took this long.

The SaferCar app offered limited functionality before the major redesign, which debuted this week. Available for both iOS and Android, the app originally allowed you to look up active recalls by entering your VIN (vehicle identification number).

However, the new app added a very important feature. It will now send you an alert if there’s a recall on your car.

How the App Works

Here’s how the app works, according to the NHTSA:

  1. Download the SaferCar app
  2. Add your vehicle, car seat, tires, and equipment
  3. Type in or scan your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  4. Receive recall notifications on your mobile device

“Making roads safer begins with the national standards we set for automotive safety,” the agency states. “When vehicles and equipment have safety defects, we manage the recalls. Learn the facts about a recall – quickly, definitively and directly from the source – so you can get it fixed and stay safe”

Hopefully, this long-awaited update to their app will make a difference. Experts estimate that about 30% of active recalls never get fixed. That means there are vehicles on the road right now that pose serious safety hazards to drivers, passengers, and other traffic on the road.

The immediacy of a push notification could also solve the issue of a lengthy gap between the recall announcement and the notice arriving in your mailbox. It sometimes takes months for drivers to be notified–months during which they are potentially at risk from a faulty vehicle.

More Consumer Education Needed

Why don’t people get their cars fixed? There might be a number of reasons. One of the biggies is failing to open the notice from the manufacturer. Many of us are deluged with junk mail, and a random envelope from a car company might not even register.

Other might not understand that recall fixes are always free. You don’t need to pay a dime when it’s the fault of the manufacturer.

However, while the parts and labor are free, the hidden costs of dealing with a recall can add up. It takes valuable time and energy to book an appointment and get your car to the dealership. Most recalls don’t include a provision for a loaner or rental coverage, so there’s the potential to be car-less while you wait to have the problem fixed.

Ultimately, some people might not feel like its worth the hassle. But with this new app, you’ll at least know if your car is recalled.