Safety Recalls - Who initiates them?

The number one killer of Americans under the age of 34 is injuries suffered from car crashes. Some of these crashes are the result of a defect or a safety standard missing in the automobile they are driving or riding in. The Department of  Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the organization which issues safety standards and also requires manufacturers to recall defective products such as cars, car seats, tires, etc. They also can issue a recall for those products that not meet the safety standards as set forth.

So when is a recall required? When the vehicle or other product does not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or when there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment. Some examples are:

-Steering components that break suddenly causing partial or complete loss of vehicle control.
-Problems with fuel system components, particularly in their susceptibility to crash damage, that result in leakage of fuel and possibly cause vehicle fires.
-Accelerator controls that may break or stick.
-Wheels that crack or break, resulting in loss of vehicle control.
- Engine cooling fan blades that break unexpectedly causing injury to persons working on a vehicle.
-Windshield wiper assemblies that fail to operate properly.
-Seats and/or seat backs that fail unexpectedly during normal use.
- Critical vehicle components that break, fall apart, or separate from the vehicle, causing potential loss of vehicle control or injury to persons inside or outside the vehicle.
-Wiring system problems that result in a fire or loss of lighting.
-Car ramps or jacks that may collapse and cause injury to someone working on a vehicle.
-Air bags that deploy under conditions for which they are not intended to deploy.
-Child safety seats that contain defective safety belts, buckles, or components that create a risk of injury, not only in a vehicle crash but also in non-operational safety of a motor vehicle.

For more information on the investigative and recall process or to download NHTSA's booklet on recalls go here. If you believe you have a safety related defect and would like to report it to NHTSA the hotline is 1-888-327-4236 or 1-800-424-9393 or you can go online to

To read more on FMVSS go here.


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