The NHTSA and Vehicle Defect Notification Requirements

The NHTSA and Vehicle Defect Notification Requirements

NHTSA and Vehicle Defect Notification Requirements

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the government agency responsible for motor vehicle safety, is responsible for the administration of national safety recalls by manufacturers or distributors of motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment. The NHTSA is required to initiate the safety recall process when a safety defect or noncompliance with a federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) has been determined. The NHTSA also investigates allegations of safety defects and tests vehicles for noncompliance with FMVSS.

The NHTSA requires motor vehicle manufacturers who have determined that a safety defect or noncompliance exists to report the finding to NHTSA within five working days. Even if the manufacturer does not know the cause of the problem, its scope, or the possible remedy, the manufacturer is still required to report the determination of a defect or noncompliance with the NHTSA. After the manufacturer makes the initial report to the NHTSA, it can provide additional information as it becomes available. Reports must be made as to defects or noncompliance in a vehicle or in any piece of equipment original to the vehicle. Thus, manufacturers of component parts, such as tires, are required to report defects or noncompliance. In addition, vehicle manufacturers who use component parts that are defective or noncompliant must also file a report with respect to its vehicles containing the component in question.

The report must contain the following information:


  • Population affected by the recall. This information should include the make and model of the vehicle as well as the model year and inclusive dates the vehicles were manufactured. In addition, this information should include the number of vehicles potentially containing the defect or noncompliance for each make and model recalled. With respect to motor vehicle equipment, the report must include the generic name of the item, its brand name, part number, size, and dates on which it was manufactured.

  • Description of the problem. This information should include a summary of the nature of the problem, the physical location, and the consequence of the defect or noncompliance.

  • Chronological summary of the problem. This information should include the dates of all the principal events that were the basis for the determination of the defect, including the number of reports, customer complaints, accidents, injuries, fatalities, and warranty claims.

  • Recall schedule. This information should include the approximate date on which the manufacturer will begin sending recall notices and the estimated date upon which notification is expected to be complete.

In addition, the reports must contain a complete identification of the manufacturer or brand or trademark owner. If the vehicle or item in question is imported, the report must identify the name and address of the designated agent.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

Leave a Comment