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Never miss a recall notice again with NHTSA's SaferCar App

It's a serious problem. A safety recall is issued for your car, but you don't know about it. The automaker is required to send out a recall notice by first-class mail, but that only works if you're on their list as an owner.

Then, there is the problem of changing addresses. Lots of people are moving right now, and they don't always update their addresses with their car's manufacturer. If your forwarding instructions have expired, a car maker might have a hard time finding you. Moreover, there have recently been delays at the Post Office.

40% of recalls never get repaired

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 40% of vehicles with open recalls never get repaired. This could be because people aren't getting their recall notices or because they assumed those recall notices were junk mail.

Wouldn't it be nice to be notified of recalls right away in an app? Ideally, it would notify you only of those recalls that apply to your specific vehicle -- no more notices that apply to a different trim level than yours. You would be able to tell right away if the recall involved a safety issue or just a service advisory that doesn't impact safety.

NHTSA has just released a free app that promises to make the recall notification process quicker, easier and more effective.

According to Consumer Reports, the SaferCar app involves a simple user interface where you enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It then notifies you when there are any existing recalls requiring repairs on your car. And, it will notify you of future recalls. It also allows you to create a virtual "garage" to keep track of the auto parts, tires, trailers and child car seats that you use in your car.

As a bonus, the app can tell you where to get your child car seat checked for fit. This is great because nearly half of all child car seats are estimated to be installed incorrectly.

"The launch of this app is an excellent step in improving the overall recall process," said a spokesperson for Consumer Reports. "Not only does it offer the potential to get recalls on a number of products into the hands of consumers in a more timely manner, but it provides a platform that may be built upon to help them better track when recalls are done and to prioritize those that are most critical."

When a safety recall is issued, time is of the essence. NHTSA's new app can let you know when your vehicle's manufacturer is attempting to reach you and help you prioritize the repairs, which are usually free. Download the free SaferCar app now.

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