INDIANAPOLIS - Many consumers get a recall notice in the mail and simply pitch it, thinking it's junk mail, said David Friedman, acting director for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
You can protect yourself by looking for notices in the mail that say “Recall” on them, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.
Starting Feb. 18, manufacturers are required to use a specific safety recall label.
"These are designed to grab your attention, to be able to tell clearly that this is a serious safety message and is not spam," said Friedman. "What we're trying to do is make sure when you get a recall in the mail you give it the proper urgency it takes so you can get your car or car seat fixed so you can protect your life and the life of your family."
Friedman said the notices will be issued for vehicles, car seats and other items facing safety recalls.
"Safety recalls, whether they're on vehicles, car seats or tires, are an incredibly important safety matter," said Friedman. "In fact, last year alone there were more than 700 safety recalls affecting 22 million vehicles, 36,000 child seats and 5 million other items."
The new notices now include "issued in accordance with federal law," as well as the NHTSA and U.S. Department of Transportation logos.
"It's to be clear while this is coming from an automaker, this is an official safety recall that's linked to the federal government," said Friedman.For vehicle safety recalls, automakers are required to provide drivers with a free and effective remedy and attempt to notify owners according to federal regulations.
While manufacturers are responsible for contacting their customers, NHTSA offers several tools consumers can use to receive immediate alerts about recalls affecting them prior to a company sending out consumer notification letters.
- NHTSA email alert sign-up direct link: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/
- NHTSA RSS feed sign-up direct link: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/RSS/
- NHTSA’s mobile app direct link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/safercar/id593086230?ls=1&mt=8
You can also go to www.safercar.gov and click on “Search for Recalls.” There, you can look up your car and sign up for email alerts when there is a recall.
"Some defects are so serious that you don't want to drive the vehicle or you want to watch out for the symptoms of the defect occurring," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director with the Center for Auto Safety, a group that monitors the government and auto industry.
NHTSA also offers the free SaferCar mobile app , which provides recalls on new vehicles and many older models.
A version of the app for Android users is expected to be released soon.
"It's also about getting consumer complaints to us," said Friedman. "The information provided to us on our website and our apps is one of the pieces we use to determine what needs to be recalled in the first place."
If a consumer is unsure of whether their vehicle has been recalled, they can also call NHTSA’s Auto Safety Telephone Hotline: 888-327-4236.
Friday at 11 p.m. on RTV6, you'll hear from an Indianapolis woman who didn't know her car had been recalled until after it burst into flames.
2013: VEHICLE RECALLS BY MAKE