Whom to call about defective cars
- Blog Post by: James Eli Shiffer
- January 18, 2011 - 10:46 AM
A woman in Redwood Falls, Minn., told Whistleblower that she’s convinced her car’s rear suspension is defective, because of handling problems and having to replace three sets of tires in three years. She found similar complaints on the government’s auto defect clearinghouse, safercar.gov, although the same site lists no safety recall from suspension problems.
So what should a vehicle owner think? Eric Bolton, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) spokesman, had this response.
All vehicle owners who believe they are experiencing a safety problem should contact both the auto maker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to report the problem. Vehicle owners can call the NHTSA auto safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236, or report the problem directly online by going to www.safercar.gov, where they can also find information about current recalls underway and sign up to receive automatic email alerts about any recalls affecting their vehicles, equipment and child safety seats. Every complaint the agency receives is reviewed quickly by technical experts at NHTSA and these complaints are use to spot potential defect trends.
Whistleblower also asked how a vehicle owner can find out whether this is a widespread safety defect or not.
All current and past vehicle recalls are posted at www.safercar.gov. NHTSA also publicly posts every vehicle complaint the agency receives, and owners can search these complaints online by automobile make, model, and model year to see what kind of complaints have been filed with NHTSA involving their specific vehicle.
But what if vehicle owners don't believe their auto maker is telling the truth about their car's problems?
Auto makers are required by U.S. law to inform NHTSA within five business days of discovering a safety defect exists. They are then required to conduct a safety recall in a timely manner, and NHTSA monitors the progress of all recalls for at least 16 months. If a consumer believes that a defect exists and that an automaker is not responding appropriate, the consumer should notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Bolton also gave me this link to a detailed explanation of NHTSA's investigative process, which also describes how anyone can formally petition the agency to investigate a suspected safety defect in a vehicle.
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