17% of vehicles on roads around DC haven’t fixed recalls

Despite improvement in efforts by auto manufacturers to locate and notify owners of safety recalls affecting their vehicles, and heightened warnings about car safety recalls, there are still more than 50 million vehicles on U.S. roads right now being driven with unresolved repair issues.

That poses potential ongoing, yet avoidable, safety risks to drivers and their passengers.

And the D.C. metro is among cities with one of the highest numbers of vehicles with unrepaired recalls.

“The D.C. metro comes in No. 10, with nearly 900,000 vehicles on the road with an open recall. That’s about 17% of vehicles on the road in the D.C. area that have an open recall right now,” said Emilie Voss, at car history provider Carfax in Centreville, Virginia.

Many owners are unaware their vehicles have been recalled for repairs or replacements.

“We know people move. Cars get sold. We don’t all look at all of our mail all of the time,” Voss said.

Other owners may know their vehicles are subject to recalls, but dismiss them, or feel they are too busy to address the recalls.

“They think maybe it is going to take more time or cost money. Really, a vehicle repair should take a matter of hours, and most take far less than one day. And it is free to you,” Voss said.

Free recall monitoring services, such as Carfax Car Care, have improved owner awareness. In California, Carfax reports a double-digit drop of 12% in the number of open recalls, where there is the highest number of registered vehicles in the Carfax app. It continuously monitors Vehicle Identification Numbers for open recalls, which are issued regularly, even for older models.

There has been more effort by departments of motor vehicles, many now partnered with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and Carfax for free recall notifications that can be alerted during a vehicle’s registration, renewal or inspection.

With just the vehicle’s VIN number, owners can check whether a vehicle has been recalled.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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