How To Know If My Vehicle Has a Recall in California?

Vehicle Has a Recall in California

When a car manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a vehicle or automotive component has a safety-related defect, they issue a recall by notifying the affected vehicle’s owners. Most decisions to recall cars and address safety defects are announced voluntarily by auto manufacturers.

Manufacturers are required to fix the problem with a recalled vehicle by repairing it, replacing it, offering a refund, or in some cases, repurchasing the vehicle.

To see whether your vehicle has a manufacturer’s safety recall and how to get the problem repaired, consumers can check at or download and search NHTSA’s SaferCar app.

How To Check for Vehicle Recalls in California?

The NHTSA SaferCar app and recalls web page provide a recall search engine that requires a Vehicle Information Number, commonly known as a VIN number.

The search will show:

  • An unrepaired vehicle affected by a vehicle safety recall in the prior 15 calendar years.
  • Vehicle safety recalls from major car manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers, and some medium/heavy truck manufacturers.

The VIN search tool will not show vehicles affected by recall campaigns that are not about vehicle safety or safety recalls conducted by small vehicle manufacturers, including some ultra-luxury brands and specialty applications.

What is a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

A car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) is a number unique to each motor vehicle. No two vehicles on the road or for sale have the same VIN.

Vehicles are registered by the manufacturer-assigned VIN, which is die-stamped into the vehicle frame or stamped on a plate attached to the vehicle body.

A VIN consists of 17 characters (digits and capital letters), which indicate:

  • Where the vehicle was built
  • Manufacturer
  • Vehicle brand, engine size, and type
  • Model year
  • Assembly plant
  • The vehicle’s six-digit serial number

How To Find Your Vehicle’s VIN?

Your vehicle’s VIN can be found on the driver’s side of the vehicle’s dashboard at the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield.

The VIN also appears on the vehicle’s:

  • Driver’s side door post (where the door latches when it is closed)
  • Title
  • Registration card
  • Insurance card
  • Insurance policy

Checking for Recalls Using the NHTSA’s Recall Search Engine

At the NHTSA’s web page, you enter your car’s VIN to find any recalls requiring repairs that have not been done to the vehicle.

If there are any outstanding recalls, the search engine will provide:

  • Recall date
  • Manufacturer recall number
  • NHTSA recall number
  • Summary of the problem
  • Safety risk
  • Location to take the vehicle for repair

It will provide a search engine for locating a nearby dealership.

A link on the page goes to another NHTSA page with information about the vehicle’s safety rating, safety technology that is or isn’t available with the vehicle, overall recall and safety issues, and consumer complaints received about the vehicle.

At the top of the VIN search engine page, menu links take the user to pages to search for:

  • Vehicle safety information
  • Car seats with brand name or model
  • Tires with brand and tire line
  • Equipment with brand name or model

You can download NHTSA’s free SaferCar app. You can also provide your email address to receive recall notices.

Checking for Recalls Using the NHTSA’s SaferCar App

NHTSA’s SaferCar app (for iOS or Android phones) is more than a search engine. If you enter information about your vehicle, car seat, tires, or other automotive equipment, the app will send you an alert if it discovers a safety recall for the vehicle or equipment you entered, or when a new recall is issued.

The app requires the vehicle’s year, make, model, and VIN. It provides the same information as described above from the web page.

Checking for Recalls With Your Vehicle’s Manufacturer

Vehicle manufacturers also post recall information on their websites. Enter the manufacturer’s name and “recalls” into a search engine to find it.

For example, on Toyota’s Lookup Safety Recalls page, you can search for information about open safety recalls and service campaigns released since 1999 for Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles intended for sale or sold in the U.S., U.S. territories, and Mexico. The search engine requires a VIN or the vehicle’s license plate number plus the state that issued the license plate.

What To Do If Your Vehicle Has a Recall?

If a vehicle recall repair in California has been issued for your vehicle, it is important to respond promptly to the recall notice so your vehicle is safe to drive. If a car is subject to a total recall, the manufacturer will send a recall notice to your home explaining the specific defects, risks associated with driving the vehicle, and what to do next.

Under most auto recalls automobile manufacturers will attempt to repair the affected vehicle free of charge. You should follow the instructions issued with the recall to schedule an appointment with a local dealer for repairs.

You should keep all documents related to the vehicle recall and repairs. Service records and information about any repair attempts by car dealers can be essential if the same problem resurfaces and you need to file a lemon law claim in California.

Contact Our Experienced California Lemon Law Attorneys

Manufacturers still produce some cars and trucks that turn out to be lemon vehicles. Your vehicle does not have to be under a recall to qualify for a lemon law claim. Many people buy cars from dealers and end up filing lemon law claims because of significant problems with their vehicles. If your vehicle is covered by a written car warranty and it has problems the dealership has been unable to fix in a reasonable number of repair attempts, the Lemon Law attorneys at The Barry Law Firm can help you determine whether your vehicle qualifies for a Lemon Law buyback, replacement, or a refund under the California Lemon Law.




The Barry Law Firm

11845 W Olympic Blvd Suite 1270

Los Angeles, California 90064

Phone: 310-684-5859

Free Consultation: 877-536-6603