Auto Recall Notices to Contain New Mandatory Labels

New regulations were introduced this week requiring all auto recall notices to contain mandatory labels that are designed to help consumers differentiate between important safety announcements and promotional mailings that are often discarded without even being opened.

The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) announced new rules last week that require automakers to add an official NHTSA recall label when they alert customers through the mail that their vehicle was the subject of a recall. The rule went into effect on February 18.

The new mandatory recall label will now be used on all manufacturer recall mailings. Every manufacturer is now required to use the distinctive NHTSA recall label to identify the vehicle recall notice from other “assorted correspondence.”

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Along with distinguishing the mailings from other junk mail, NHTSA officials also hope the label will help consumers “avoid mistakenly discarding critical safety notices.”

NHTSA regulators predict that the new labeling rule will not only raise recall awareness and help consumers become more informed, but also protect consumers from misleading sales or marketing materials. Many sales mailings from independent companies are designed to closely resemble legitimate safety recall notices.

Government officials says vehicle owners are often led to purchase costly and unnecessary products or services advertised through phony mailings which may look similar to official manufacturer recall notices.

“Recalls only work if consumers are aware of them,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This new label will allow consumers to quickly recognize recall notices mailed to their homes so they can act quickly to get their vehicles, child restraints, tires, or other motor vehicle equipment fixed.”

Response To A Growing Problem

The NHTSA also announced the launch of the SaferCar app for android, which offers consumers free access to important safety vehicle information. A corresponding iOS app was released last year for Apple products.

The new app will allow vehicle owners to find recalls, search safety performance data, search manufacturer’s 5 star safety ratings by vehicle make or model, and subscribe to automatic updates concerning safety recalls.

The app also offers safety information for tires and child seat recalls. The SaferCar app will also provide users with a way to submit complaints to the NHTSA concerning safety problems.

The new safety recall measures are one more step toward offering consumers more information on the ever increasing vehicle recalls which occur each year.

An NHTSA report released last week revealed the number of vehicle recalls reached a ten year high. More than 22 million vehicles were recalled in the United States last year, the highest recall rates since 2004.

The NHTSA did not speculate on the reason for the increase in recalls, a number which jumped from 16.4 million recalls in 2012. However, the new recall safety measures are clearly the agency’s response to a growing problem.

“By providing new and convenient tools for consumers, we hope to empower owners to take action to ensure their vehicles and loved ones are safe,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman.

Many of the same tools and options are available online at the NHTSA safety website, safercar.org. Other tools available include the ability to search recalls on used cars, options to receive email notifications when a manufacturer files for a recall with the federal government and the ability to receive alerts directly to the owner’s phone.

A VIN lookup search tool will become available later this year.

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