Officials estimate about 20 percent of cars on roads are under recall

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Auto manufacturers are recalling millions more vehicles than at any other time in U.S. history — about 46 million vehicles so far this year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Drivers sometimes don’t even realize their vehicle may be under recall.

There’s always a risk when drivers get behind the wheel. The greatest risk for some may not be another car on the road, but rather a person’s own vehicle. The NHTSA said 1-in-5 cars on the road now is under recall.

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The massive Takata airbag replacement situation accounts for 37 million recalls. The government said those defective devices have killed 23 people worldwide in recent years, and injured thousands more.

Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation is starting a new campaign. It is launching a website called AirbagRecall to help drivers stay informed.

“We can’t make consumers bring their cars in for repair, but their lives depend on them doing so,” said Heidi King, the Deputy Administrator NHTSA.

The government also mandates notices be sent to vehicle owners advising of recalls. 

But, sometimes that information never gets to the current car owner. One BMW owner didn’t know his recently purchased vehicle had an airbag recall.

“I’m shocked, because with the airbag you never know,” said Greg Gentry. He was able to learn about his car’s recall in seconds, thanks to a free app from CarFax.

“You plug in your license plate, it’ll tell you about any recalls that exist for your vehicle right now, and it will monitor for any recall issues in the future,” explained CarFax’s Chris Basso.

Airbags aren’t the only recall issue. In the last year, there’s been recalls for vehicles with:

  • 4.8 million cruise control issues
  • 1.4 million loose steering wheel problems
  • 350,000 transmission shifter issues
  • 123,000 power steering problems

There are multiple options for a driver to learn about recalls on his car. The ratings and research firm JD Power has a recall site allowing users to look up a car by make and model.

Consumer Reports offers a car recall tracker, but it requires users to sign up for a free account in order to access it as a member.

NHTSA, the federal agency that’s charged with highway safety, has a website that allows users to look up a recall using car’s vehicle identification number. It goes deep, looking at safety recalls conducted over the past 15 calendar years, and it includes motorcycles.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also has a website that lists not only automobile recalls, but includes recalls for tires, child safety car seats, and even school buses.

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