Since 1966, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation – has been tasked with providing the recall information for vehicles and automotive components. If there is any safety issue or failure to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, the NHTSA is a resource that consumers can trust. Most of the recalls issued by the agency have to do with motor vehicles and related equipment, child safety seats and tires, according to Recalls.gov.
What Is a Safety-Related Defect?
Essentially, a safety-related defect is a problem with a car, truck or SUV that puts the safety of the driver and passengers in the vehicle at risk and is seen across multiple instances of the same design or manufacturer, according to Safercar.gov. The U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety describes a safety-related defect as “”the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.”
The Investigation Process
Professionals from the NHTSA take every complaint seriously and do everything in their power to investigate each claim. That said, it is worth keeping in mind that the NHTSA only has the authority to address issues that concern the safety of drivers and passengers. Such complaints should be made to the agency’s Office of Defects. Even though that is the case, every complaint of a possible defect is checked out thoroughly to ensure there are no threats to safety. There are four main parts to the process:
- Screening: There is an initial review of consumer complaints about a particular issue. Although it likely takes multiple complaints about the same defect to make it to the next step, there is no set number for reaching the next step in the process.
- Analysis: If there are any petitions for investigations, they will be examined more closely at this time.
- Investigation: Technical professionals will launch investigations into issues they believe are problematic in the automotive sector. If the problem warrants it, a safety call will be issued right away.
- Management: The NHTSA will continue to monitor the safety issue attentively to ensure no further action is required. Regardless of whatever action is taken as a result of the recall, professionals will measure its effectiveness and adjust plans if necessary.
Filing a Complaint
If you want to do your part and file a complaint with the NHTSA, your help would be greatly appreciated. It takes help from everyone to maximize the safety out on the roads. There is a five-step form that only takes about five minutes, provided you have the following information handy:
- Personal email address
- Vehicle make, model year
- Vehicle Identification Number
- Documentation of your complaint
It is worth noting that if your complaint is a result of the Takata airbags, you should write “Takata Recall” at the beginning of your complaint description (step three of five in the process). Whatever the problem is with your vehicle, however, don’t hesitate to speak out about it.