How to check if your vehicle is one of millions on a recall list

Jul 31, 2022, 5:00 AM

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

A whopping 50 million vehicles on the road have open recalls. Thousands of Fords, Nissans, Hyundais and Hondas were recently added to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list. Tap or click here to check if your model is affected.

Perhaps a manufacturer finds a part on a specific model wears out faster than expected and decides to replace it for everyone. Faulty or outdated software can pose significant problems. And sometimes, the problem is more urgent, like the Takata airbag recall that started in 2013.

If you own a car, this article is for you. I’m going to tell you how you can go online to find out if your vehicle is subject to a recall and get email notifications of future recalls. You should share this valuable intel with your family and friends, too.

1. Find your car’s VIN

The first step is to find your vehicle’s 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, for short.

The VIN is found on most vehicles by standing outside the front windshield and peering down at the lower driver’s side corner of the dashboard. It can be a little hard to see, so look carefully. Some cars also have it printed on an emblem on the driver-side door jamb.

If you can’t locate your car’s VIN, check your vehicle title or registration or look in your insurance documents.

By the way, it’s wise to take a photo of your car’s VIN, so you always have it handy. Tap or click for nine more photos you should always have on your phone.

2. Update your registration

Make sure your car’s manufacturer can reach you. That means keeping your registration up to date and ensuring your current address is on file. Yes, you may hear about a serious recall through a letter in the mail.

Your first stop is checking your vehicle. Look at the registration sticker in the corner of your plate to make sure the marked year is current. You can also visit your state motor vehicle department’s website to see whether you need to pay any fees or go through emissions testing to bring your paperwork current.

3. Use the NHTSA recall checkup tool

Once you have your VIN, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall lookup page. Enter your VIN into the provided search field, and the results will show the number and type of safety recalls that apply to your specific vehicle. (If you don’t have your VIN, try searching for your car’s year, make and model instead.)

The search tool includes unrepaired vehicle safety recalls from the past 15 calendar years. You’ll also see vehicle safety recalls from major light auto automakers, motorcycle manufacturers and some medium/heavy truck manufacturers.

Suppose you don’t get any results? Good news! Your vehicle is not part of a current recall.

Pro tip: It’s also a good idea to search the VIN when you buy a used car to know if you will need to deal with any safety issues after taking ownership.

Aside from car recalls, the NHTSA’s site is good for checking for recalls on vehicle accessories like car seats, tires, and other car-related equipment.

4. Be proactive

Just because your vehicle isn’t currently subject to recall doesn’t mean it won’t get one in the future. For that purpose, the NHTSA also offers an email notification system to receive alerts about recalls.

To sign up, enter your email address, and choose up to five vehicle models, makes and years. You can also choose to get an overview of all vehicle recalls each week and whether to receive alerts about tire or car seat recalls.

The NHTSA site is also an excellent spot to compare vehicle safety ratings, check your tires and find out how easy a car seat is to use. Browse the ratings page here.

5. Register with Carfax

Carfax compiles your vehicle’s various records, including accident reports, service schedules, and recall alerts. The best part is, it’s free.

To set up an account, go to Don’t click “Get CARFAX Reports.” That will prompt you to pay for a complete vehicle report, which is not what you want.

Instead, click Sign Up in the top right corner and create an account. Add your vehicle by searching for your VIN or license plate.

After registering, you’ll get a monthly report with open recalls for your vehicle, its value, and any services due.

What to do if your vehicle is part of a recall

Where do you take your car if it’s part of a recall? Recall service work is generally done at your car dealership. Give them a call to schedule an appointment. Having the recall number is handy, but they can also look up recall information through their records.

Recalls can be for potentially dangerous issues, so schedule your car’s service as soon as possible. Dealerships typically have shuttle services. You can drop off your car and have them pick you up when it’s ready. Your dealer can even arrange for your car to be towed if the recall is for a severe issue.

And remember, the dealership will complete all repair work made on your car due to recall for free. That includes parts and software.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Kim Komando

(Jopwell Photo/via Pexels)...

Kim Komando

Smart tech life hacks Arizona workers should use to save time and stay safe

I got a text from a number I felt I should have known not long ago, but it wasn’t saved in my phone. There’s a smart trick I used to find it.

4 days ago

a group of people are smiling in the direction of an iPhone...

Kim Komando

Here are 20 Google search tricks, hidden utilities, games and freebies

Remember when talking to yourself got you weird looks? Using your voice can make a task like writing up a letter or outline a lot easier.

11 days ago

(Andres Ayrton Photo/via Pexels)...

Kim Komando

Plug in your address to see if you’re overpaying for the internet

If you think you're overpaying for the internet in your home, apartment, office or business, try this trick before you start packing.

18 days ago

child coloring on paper...

Kim Komando

3 lifesaving tech essentials for every school child – Parents, read this now

Back-to-school time meant loading up on school supplies and taking your kiddo to get new shoes...and now, there's more.

25 days ago

person holds phone while looking at watch...

Kim Komando

Your phone tracks everywhere you’ve been – See (and delete) it

Google knows more about you than your best friends. That includes (if you have the right settings enabled) where you go and even the pictures you take at that location. You have to check out this map. It’s stunning to see your history laid out in one spot. Apple users, you’re not immune. Your iPhone […]

1 month ago

phone displaying Google sign...

Kim Komando

Google security check: 60 seconds to kick out snoops and hackers

There are plenty of reasons to check your Google account’s security. It only takes a minute and will reveal who has access to your account.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.

How to check if your vehicle is one of millions on a recall list