If checking whether your car has been recalled is part of your morning routine and civic duty, then you were greeted by the above message this morning. Defects appear to be contagious. The insidious part: The NHTSA recall database appears to be operational. You are left clueless about what is and what isn’t working. Troubles without a fix? Ghost in a machine? Is the database safe for us to use?
This outage of unknown reason and proportions comes on the heels of NHTSA locking down major parts of the database, after it was revealed that the database was leaking private information. The database is a valuable tool for keeping customers informed about recalls. It also acts as an information conduit for customers to express their concerns to the NHTSA and manufacturers. However, the database has a recent history of abuse for political and propaganda purposes.