While manufacturers attempt to contact all affected vehicle owners, with some 40+ million used vehicles changing hands annually, the task can be daunting. Many car owners may not receive official notice of a recall. That's why used-car owners and even shoppers need to be proactive in learning about existing recalls. Carfax, for example, works with a number of auto manufacturers to display information on open recalls, directly benefiting consumers. Here are some steps you might take:
• Ask the dealer. Ask him if there are any outstanding recalls on the vehicle or its parts. Often, dealers remedying one recall will check to see if there are any other open recalls on the vehicle and offer to repair them as well, but it never hurts to ask!
• Visit Carfax.com. Carfax receives recall data from several manufacturers. At www.carfax.com you can perform a free Recall Check or, for a nominal fee, you can run a detailed vehicle history report using a vehicle's 17-character identification number (available on the dashboard and title documents) to get a more detailed look into a car's past.
• Check with NHTSA. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps a comprehensive database of recalls by make, model and year. This isn't vehicle specific, but it gives you a road map to get there. Their Web site (www.nhtsa.com) contains a regularly updated list, or you can call them toll-free at (888) DASH-2-DOT (888-327-4236).
Often, a dealer remedying one recall will check to see if there are any other open recalls on your car and offer to repair them as well.