Free Apps Allow Consumers to Search Car Recall Info

One in five cars in Texas has an open recall. Free apps allow consumers to check any car.

One in five vehicles on Texas roadways have unfixed recalls. That makes Texas number two in the nation for active recalls, second only to California.

"Texas has over four million cars on the road with a safety recall," said Chris Basso, spokesman for Carfax.

Florida, New York and Pennsylvania round out the top five. The high number of recalled vehicles in these states means that any point vehicles with potentially serious safety problems litter the roadway.

Carfax tracks the number of recalled vehicles on the roads across the country, and Basso said the number of family vehicles with unfixed recalls is especially alarming.

"One in three minivans in Texas has an unfixed recall," said Basso.

A case NBC 5's Consumer Unit investigated last February exemplifies the need to check for unfixed recalls. A truck parked in a family's driveway ignited a house fire as the family slept.

"By the time I make it to here," Rosalind O’Neal said, pointing to her living room, "I see the house is full of smoke. The whole house is full of smoke."

Investigators zeroed in on the speed control deactivation switch in the truck. It was the subject of a recall that no one fixed.

"It was a simple mistake that could have cost a family their lives," said Desoto Fire Marshal Bryan Parker.

No one was hurt in that incident, but it's the danger posed by open recalls that has prompted Carfax to design a new app. You can download it for free for Apple and Android devices.

It works simply. You enter in a license plate number and can get recall, maintenance and inspection information.

The NBC 5 Consumer Unit tried out the app in a busy parking lot. Three out of 10 vehicles we researched had unrepaired recalls. And in every case, the driver bought the car used and was unaware of the recall.

"Four-hundred thousand people last year bought a used car in Texas with an open recall that they may not have known about," said Basso.

That was the case with Valerie Salinas, who just bought a 2003 Honda Accord. It had three open recalls, including safety issues like power steering and the ignition switch.

"It's scary," said Salinas after NBC 5 Consumer Investigator Deanna Dewberry showed her the information. "Obviously if I'm driving it and I don't know there is something wrong with it."

When informed that any licensed dealer would repair her car at no cost Salinas said, "I'm going to go straight there when I leave."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has a free app for Apple and Android devices that allows consumers to look up recall information. With this app, you enter the vehicle identification number.

You can also look up recall information on the NHTSA's website.

Contact Us