Congress is being asked to take action on a safety concern that Perspective readers learned about more than a year ago: A frightening number of drivers don't heed or receive recall notices about their cars.
The problem tragically caught national attention in March, when a Texas teen was killed by a recalled Takata airbag that never was replaced in her 2002 Honda Civic. Auto trade groups are urging Congress to approve $18 million in funding for a pilot project in six states to help notify owners of uncompleted recalls when registering their vehicles.
Our advice: Don't wait for federal action to find out if the used car you're thinking about buying (or that's already sitting in your driveway) is among the 25% of recalled cars that go unfixed. Type its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into a free National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database that tracks whether or not repairs have been made. It covers recalls dating back 15 years.
You can find the car's VIN on the dashboard (driver's side) or on the driver's side door post. If the car is up to date, the website will show zero open recalls. If it's missed one or more recalls, the website will tell you which ones.
Don't agree to purchase the vehicle without insisting all missing recall repairs be made at an original equipment manufacturer (brand) dealership. And if you already own the car, don't put off getting it fixed. Recall repairs made at original equipment manufacturer dealerships are always free.