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How to Report Car Problems

1.

Go to the home page for the NHTSA. Click on "Report a Vehicle or Child Seat Defect" on the right side of the home page. This takes you to the "File a Safety Complaint" page of the Office of Defects Investigation.

2.

Determine whether your problem involves the tires, non-original equipment (such as replacement oil filters, wipers, accessories for recreational vehicles, and lights), child restraint systems or the vehicle in general.

3.

Scroll down the "File a Safety Complaint" page to the "Information Needed" section. Select the plus (+) button to search for your type of problem, or complaint. Gather the requested information. Look for the vehicle identification (VIN) number on your vehicle registration card.

4.

Click on "Begin Form" in the box. Explain in the "Description" box what events led to the vehicle problem; the nature, frequency and results of the problem; and any repair or replacement. Answer the questions, under the Description box, relating to the occurrence of injuries or death, fire, property damage, crash and police report. Retrieve the accident report from the police if necessary. Click on "Next Page" and provide the consumer information requested.

Tips and Warnings

  • For reporting tire problems, look for DOT, which stands for Department of Transportation, on the tire to find the Tire Identification Number. This number indicates compliance with DOT requirements, a plant code representing where the tire was manufactured and a four-digit code for the week and year of manufacture. Find the tire size, formatted, for example, as P255/65R16, on the inner rim of the tire.
  • You can also report complaints or defects by calling the Office of Defects Investigation hotline at the numbers listed on its website.
  • The Office of Defects Investigation website provides links to databases for complaints and investigations of vehicle problems and technical service bulletins, which manufacturers issue for repairs and information on various problems.
  • Be careful not to provide in the Description box of the complaint form any personal information, such as your name, driver's license and Social Security numbers, your physical or email addresses and vehicle identification number (VIN). Information in the Description box may appear as you entered it in a NHTSA public database.
  • Obtain regular inspections of your vehicle or as required by your state or local law.

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