Does Your Car Have a Recall?

  1. Research Center
  2. /
  3. Car Safety Research Articles
  4. /
  5. Does Your Car Have a Recall
Red Car standing out in a group of gray cars
Are your Cup Holders faulty?
We often hear about vehicle recalls on the news. An automaker is recalling a specific model of car for potentially faulty airbags or brakes that may go out or accelerators that get stuck, etc. Have you ever noticed that the recalls for faulty cup holders never make the evening news?
Every year, tens of millions of cars are recalled. In 2020 alone, there were 786 recalls that affected over 31 million vehicles. Perhaps you have even gotten a letter from the manufacturer or your dealership to make you aware that your vehicle needs to come in for a recalled item. If this is the case, you bring your car in for its next service and the dealership repairs the recall problem free of charge. But what if you want to check to see if your vehicle has any open recalls that you're not aware of? How do you find out about recalls and take care of the potential problem? Lithia has the answers.
How to find out if your car has a recall
Recalls on faulty vehicle parts happen all the time and many are not a threat to your safety. Truth be told, your car could be a part of a recall at any time. Automakers are required to send out recall alert notices to vehicle owners and you may receive them through the mail, by email or even over the phone. But scammers love to use the phone to send you pre-recorded messages that could be fake. Have you gotten a phone call to alert you that your auto warranty is about to expire, even if it expired five years ago? Even if you don't own a car? Who hasn't?
Whether you just purchased a new or used car, or have owned your car for years, a recall can happen at any time. So, how do you find out if your car, truck or SUV has a legitimate recall? Actually, finding out if your vehicle has any open recalls is a quick and easy process.

Decoding a VIN
Step 1. - Find your VIN
All modern vehicles built after 1981 have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that identifies your specific vehicle. The VIN is like your car's DNA code or fingerprint as it is totally unique to your vehicle. A VIN is usually composed of 17 characters including digits and capital letters, that acts as a unique identifier. The VIN tells you when and where the car was built. It tells you the manufacturer, year, make and model, and the trim level including unique features and specifications. Your car's VIN number can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage. You can also use it to get a vehicle history report on your car.
Where to find your Car's VIN
Your vehicle's VIN can be found in several places on your car. It is most common that your car's VIN number can be found by looking at the dashboard on the driver's side of the vehicle. The easiest way to view it is to stand outside the vehicle on the driver's side and look through the windshield to the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield.
where to find your cars vin

If the VIN number cannot be found there, open the driver's door and look at the door post (where the door latches when it closes). It is likely that your VIN number will also be displayed in this location. Most vehicles have the VIN stamped on the front of the engine block as well. You can also find your car's VIN number on your car insurance card as well as on the title and registration for the vehicle.
Step 2. - Check with the NHTSA
Once you have your vehicle's VIN, you'll find any and all safety-related recalls for your specific vehicle through the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). The U.S. government works with automakers to track and report on all vehicle recalls through the NHTSA. This federal agency has a recall page that lists all recalls on cars, motorcycles, even motorhomes. You can also do research on specific vehicle-related products such as tires from the NHTSA website.
NHTSA | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Logo
First, visit and enter your vehicle's VIN. This page also shows you where to find your car's VIN. The NHTSA's search tool will show you if your car is an unrepaired vehicle that is affected by a vehicle safety recall in the past 15 years. According to the site, the search tool will not show you if your car has already been repaired by your dealership for a recall. You can download the NHTSA's free SaferCar app to your smartphone to get notices of any safety recalls right to your mobile device. How cool is that?
Once you have entered your VIN on the NHTSA recall page, if your vehicle has no unrepaired recalls, you'll see a message that says, "0 Unrepaired recalls associated with this VIN." That means your car is good to go. But not so fast! What if your vehicle has a recall that is not safety related… like those irksome cup holders that always spill your mocha latte?
Lithia Motors and Driveway Logo
Step 3. -Check with your Lithia Auto Dealer
You can also cut right to the chase by calling your local Lithia Auto Dealership to schedule service on your vehicle. We will find out if your car has any recall issues and repair them during your appointment. Some recalls are urgent, and your Lithia dealer will want to handle those right away. 
According to the NHTSA, the majority of recall notices come from the vehicle manufacturers, without the need for involvement by the government safety administration. Automakers have their own online recall sites as well as toll-free phone numbers you may contact to find out about any recalls. These sites list all recalls by the manufacturer of your vehicle including safety and non-safety related issues not covered by the NHTSA. Simply do a search for your automaker's recalls. For instance, Toyota recalls may be found here. You'll need to enter your VIN to get specific information regarding your car, truck or SUV.

Your safety is important to us because at Lithia, we want to keep you as a customer for life. To find the Lithia Auto dealer near you, click here.