Summer Driving Means Checking for Recalls

Summer Driving Means Checking for Recalls

Summer Driving Means Checking for Recalls

This one simple tool helps drivers find out if their vehicle has been affected by a recall.

Alex Epstein is director of transportation safety, advocacy, at the National Safety Council.

About one in five vehicles has an open safety recall that has not been repaired. Does yours? As families drive extra miles during summer vacations, it’s the right time to check for recalls.

As many as 53 million vehicles are on the road today with an unrepaired recall. Recalls can pose serious risks and affect important vehicle systems, such as airbags, seat belts, brakes, gear shift, steering column and more.

Check to Protect, a broad effort by automakers, safety advocates and auto industry leaders to educate drivers about this issue, just celebrated its second anniversary. Thus far, 3.5 million people have taken advantage of this free lookup service at CheckToProtect.org to see if their vehicle is at risk.

With 40,000 annual roadway fatalities, fixing an open recall is just one more way we can protect ourselves from preventable death and injury. The U.S. Marine Corps and other military branches agree that this is an important issue. The Marine Corps invited NSC to Camp Pendleton in Southern California and Blount Island in Jacksonville, Fla., this summer to let military members know about Check to Protect and canvass vehicles for open safety recalls. It’s just one more way we can keep people safe.

Even if you do not think your vehicle is under recall, it is worth visiting Check To Protect to make sure. The recall database is constantly being updated. For many drivers, recalls are an afterthought. Some drivers don’t know what a Vehicle Information Number (VIN) is or where to find it. Some say they are too busy, don’t think recalls are serious or mistakenly believe fixing a recall will cost them money. In fact, dealers are obligated to repair recalls at no cost to the vehicle owner.

Check To Protect makes it easy to follow through. Just put in the VIN number and schedule a free repair with a dealership.

Drivers of older vehicles, especially, should pay attention. Recall compliance on vehicles over five years old drops in half compared with newer cars. Though automakers send recall notices in the mail, they could be mailed to an old address associated with the vehicle title, so if you move or drive a used vehicle, the chances of receiving that notice in a timely fashion are slim.

It takes time and effort to go to the dealer for a free repair, and it certainly can be inconvenient. However, the inconvenience is nothing compared with the potential tragedy caused by a preventable malfunction. Chances are you’re already checking tire pressure and fluid levels to get your car ready for summer driving, so check your recall status to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Encourage everyone to go to CheckToProtect.org. Together we can make our vehicles and our roads safer, and really enjoy summer to the fullest.

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