You Should Complain About Your Car!

Recalls, Safety on June 27, 2017

This headline may seem like a joke, or click bait for that matter, but we’re being serious, and so is the U.S. government. While we may feel like we, and those around us, complain too much already, the U.S. government disagrees. Well, at least when it comes to personal satisfaction with your vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a new rule that would require carmakers to put labels on the sun visors of all new vehicles with instructions on how to file safety complaints

According to NHTSA, “the agency uses consumer complaints to spot safety problems. If NHTSA workers spot a trend in the complaints, the agency investigates and can pressure automakers into doing recalls.” In other words, consumers are the agency’s eyes and ears, and they depend on consumer feedback.

In 2015, 75,000 complaints were made to the NHSTA. Unfortunately, without the necessary staff to comb through those complaints, most went ignored.

When General Motors experienced a major ignition switch defect, blamed for more than 120 deaths in 2014, many began to wonder how the defect could go unnoticed for so long? Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the NHSTA had known about the defect since the early 2000s, more than a decade before 120 people were killed, and over 250 injured.

An audit completed by the U.S. Department of Transportation stated that, “NHSTA has suffered severe systemic problems for years in how it trains staff, and in deciding when and how to investigate defects.” Going on to say that they lacked transparency and accountability, the U.S. Department of Transport found that 90 percent of consumer complaints received daily were ignored by the NHSTA.

Since that report, the NHSTA has hired additional employees and received more funding, allowing them to sift through and report on complaints received by consumers.

These safety labels were required by Congress back in 2012. The stickers explained that people should contact NHTSA with safety issues at, by phone at (888) 327-4236, or by mail at U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA, Office of Defects Investigation, NEF-100, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20077-9382.

The regulation process to get these stickers approved in all new vehicles could take years to complete, so it will likely be a long time before labels are required. However, customers can get a jumpstart on NHTSA’s request and begin to submit complaints to the contact information listed above. The hope is that enough complaints will propel this new regulation forward and make everyone safer in their vehicles.