A safety recall occurs when a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that a condition or defect that could affect the safety or operation of a vehicle may exist in a specific vehicle or series of vehicles. The manufacturer notifies its authorized dealers and the registered vehicle owners of the condition or defect so that the registered owners can take the vehicle to the authorized dealer for diagnosis and repair.
To learn more about the safety recall process, view: Auto Recall System: Recall to Repair (PDF)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation that carries out vehicle safety programs. Part of NHTSA’s work is to set and enforce safety performance standards for vehicles and vehicle equipment and investigate vehicle safety defects.
If you are shopping on carmax.com, when you find the car you are interested in, you can click on the NHTSA Recall Look-up to check for any unrepaired safety recalls. You can find the link to the NHTSA Recall Look-up just below the key features section on every car page. In addition, you can visit the NHTSA website at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls. NHTSA’s website also has information on safety recalls based on vehicle year, make, and model, as well as general safety-related information. CarMax also provides free AutoCheck reports on carmax.com and in its stores, which may include safety recall information on some manufacturers’ vehicles. Before you purchase a car, your sales consultant will review with you an AutoCheck report and VIN-specific safety recall look-up results from the NHTSA website. Please note, the NHTSA and AutoCheck websites are not controlled by CarMax. CarMax does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of their information.
Some of our cars may have unrepaired safety recalls on them. There are several reasons for this, but at the core is the fact that the current recall system is based on the manufacturer’s relationship with its dealers and registered vehicle owners, and not with independent dealers. Among other things, this means that manufacturers have not authorized CarMax to complete recall repairs and close out unrepaired safety recalls. Before you purchase a car from CarMax, your sales consultant will review with you an AutoCheck report and VIN-specific recall look-up results from the NHTSA website. CarMax notifies customers prior to purchasing to have unrepaired safety recalls fixed by the manufacturer immediately. At our new car stores, we are manufacturer-authorized for the new car makes we sell at those stores; therefore, unrepaired safety recalls on vehicles for those new car makes are addressed at those stores before vehicles are sold.
Manufacturers use state vehicle registration data to issue safety recall notices. If you do not maintain your state registration information, a future safety recall notice may not be sent to you. Make sure to update your address if you move.
CarMax also recommends that you register your car with the manufacturer as soon as you make a purchase. The details for registration vary by manufacturer, but you will usually need your address, date of purchase, VIN, and the year, make, and model of your vehicle. By registering, you will receive information on unrepaired safety recalls, as well as other important information, directly from the manufacturer. You also will be listed with the manufacturer as the current owner if a new safety recall is issued. As with www.safercar.gov, most manufacturers have VIN-specific safety recall look-up tools on their websites.
Register at your car manufacturer's website.
Visit your car manufacturer’s safety recall VIN look-up website.
You can also subscribe for email safety recall notifications from NHTSA at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/index.cfm. These notifications are not specific to your VIN, but are based on your car’s year and make. You can register up to five cars. By subscribing, you will receive an email whenever there is a safety recall for your selection.
You can also use the NHTSA VIN-specific safety recall look-up service to check for unrepaired safety recalls at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.
Contact a manufacturer-authorized repair facility, which is required to fix unrepaired safety recalls at no cost to you.