By on August 28, 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just dropped an updated application for smart devices that offers the ability to automatically track recall information. After downloading, users simply input or scan their vehicle identification number (VIN) into their phone and the government-sanctioned service will notify them when/if recall new information becomes available.

While automakers and equipment manufacturers are still legally obligated to inform customers directly, the NHTSA believes redundancy isn’t a terrible idea when it comes to safety — and the app should beat any mailers sent out in the event of a recall.

Our more tech-savvy readers are probably wondering what the catch is, and with good reason. Free apps typically come with privacy concerns, as user data is frequently shoveled around to “optimize the experience” and/or make the creator some money. But there doesn’t seem to be any of that here. The NHTSA said the app won’t store any user information and only needs the basic details about your vehicle(s), which will never leave your device.

The SaferCar app has been around for a while, but it’s mainly served as a more direct route to browse recall information. The update essentially streamlines this process by notifying you whenever a new report happens to include a VIN you’ve marked as relevant.

While there are downloadable applications that do the exact same thing, the free NHTSA app is likely to make them obsolete. It may even help tamp down the number of motorists that are unwittingly driving around in recalled vehicles. The Department of Transportation estimates around 25 percent of vehicles on the road have an unresolved recall — which seems like a lot considering the repairs are required to be taken care of by the manufacturer free of charge.

Regulators released an ad to help promote the updated SaferCar app; it’s not nearly as entertaining as the Cheetah-themed spot the NHTSA launched earlier in the month, but likely more useful to the general public. Frankly, we’re just not sure how many DUI offenses will be offset by a video of a stoned feline cruising the desert in a first-generation Pontiac Firebird. Were he not thrown into jail at the end, one might even accuse the clip of glamorizing driving while under the influence of marijuana. The big cat certainly seemed to be practicing safe driving when Johnny Law came up behind him, raising questions about profiling. Still, he was flagrantly smoking a joint in his convertible. Hardly a wise decision.

At any rate, the recall app will undoubtedly help owners get quicker access to important information pertaining to their vehicle. That goes for friends, too, as there’s seemingly no limit to the number of VINs that can be tracked. It’s available now for Android devices, with iOS coming later this week.

[Image: mitya73/Shutterstock]

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2 Comments on “Worried About Recalls? The NHTSA Has an App for That...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I just downloaded the app (~30 MB – wow), and I like it. There are some useful features in it, including car values and the ability to scan a VIN.

    This would be handy when shopping for a used car. When we got my son’s used 11 Sonata (in 2013) from the same dealer who originally sold and serviced it, the car had 4 outstanding recalls that they hadn’t bothered to fix. We ended up taking it to a place near us.

    Recalls are becoming a way of life for a variety of reasons, but they should never be ignored.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Looks like useful information. I reviewed android app’s needed permissions and was pleasantly surprised.

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