The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have launched a new free online tool that should make it easier for consumers to inspect their vehicles’ safety recall histories. The new search tool, available at, allows people to look for recall campaigns by entering Vehicle Identification Numbers.

Consumers can enter their VIN information into the look-up tool and it will provide three different responses. “Recall Incomplete” means that an recall campaign is incomplete or “open”, and the tool will provide necessary instructions. “Recall Incomplete. Remedy Not Yet Available” means an open recall exists but the manufacturer does not have a fix in place yet. If there are no open recalls, the tool responds with “Number of Open Recalls: 0”.

“Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired,” says Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary. “Starting today car owners, shoppers, and renters can find out if a specific vehicle has a safety defect that needs to be fixed – using our free online tool.”

NHTSA’s search tool relies on data provided by major light vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers. As of Aug. 20, all major  manufacturers are required to provide customers with search tools on their own websites for uncompleted recalls on their vehicles, with their databases updated at least once a week.

“Just as every single automaker should never hesitate to recall a defective vehicle, consumers should never hesitate to get their recalled vehicle fixed,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “By making individual VIN searches readily available, we’re providing another service to consumers – the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle they own, or that they are thinking of buying or renting, is free of safety defects.”

The tool provides information on incomplete recalls over the past 15 calendar years on major manufacturers. Small-volume manufacturers, especially custom builders are thus not included. The search tool also does not cover completed safety recalls, non-safety related recall campaigns and recalls that are more than 15 years old.

As of Aug. 22, NHTSA’s list of participating manufacturers includes BMW, BRP (Can-Am), Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki and Triumph. Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM and Victory are not listed but all have a VIN look-up tool on their respective websites and will likely be added to NHTSA’s list shortly. As of this writing, Indian, MV Agusta and Yamaha do not yet have VIN look-up tools available on their websites.

[Source: NHTSA]