Car Industry

Does your car have a recall? Here's how to check

Don't worry, the process to check recalls is easier than you think.

Don Mason/Getty Images

Vehicle recalls happen much more often than you might think. Big ones like the ongoing Takata airbag recall or Ford's recent multimillion truck callback tend to make headlines. But the truth is, recall notices are issued all the time.

Automakers do send out notices via mail, email and sometimes over the phone, but they can still be pretty easy to miss. Thankfully, keeping tabs on recalls is actually a very simple process.

Here's how to find out if your specific car is under recall, and what to do about it.

1. Find your VIN

Your unique 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN) can be found in a number of places. Every car has its VIN printed behind the lower, driver's side corner of the windshield, as pictured above. You can also find your VIN on your vehicle registration or insurance card, or on a placard on the driver's door jamb.

The 17-character VIN can be found on the lower corner of your car's windshield.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

2. Check the NHTSA database

Go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recall page, at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls, and enter your VIN. If nothing comes up, you're golden. If any open recalls do populate, move on to the third and final step.

You can also use NHTSA's site to check on vehicle-related products, such as car seats, tires or auxiliary equipment.

Many automakers have their own recall portals online, as well.

NHTSA Recall Page

NHTSA has recall information for car seats, tires and other automotive equipment, as well.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

3. Call your dealer

Recall work can be performed at your local dealership, simply by scheduling an appointment. Some recalls are more urgent than others, but regardless, you shouldn't wait to have this work completed. In some cases, the dealer can even arrange to have your vehicle towed if the matter is particularly serious. And no matter the type or extent of the recall, all repair work is completed at no cost to you.

Car Dealership's Service Center

Recall-related service is performed free of charge.

Don Mason/Getty Images

For even more peace of mind, you can receive recall email alerts from NHTSA, by signing up at www.nhtsa.gov/alerts.

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