More than a million vehicles in the Houston area have open recalls. Is your car one of them? We conducted a non-scientific sampling to show you just how common the problem is.
Consumer Investigative Reporter Tiffany Craig recruited help from KHOU 11 researchers Glissette Santana and Sean Alder. The threesome went around town and collected license plates from private cars, Ubers and taxis.
They snapped 40 pictures of each, totaling 120 plates.
First, they plugged the plates into a site that allowed them to find the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Then, they typed the VIN into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website that shows vehicles with recalls that haven't been repaired.
Here's what they uncovered:
- Twenty-percent of our Ubers had recalls. Half of the recalls were for faulty airbags.
- Twenty-five percent of the private cars had a recall and almost all of them were airbag-related.
- Forty-seven percent of taxis had recalls. The majority have the potential for electrical problems that could cause a fire.
As we were out on plate-patrol, we met Stephanie Bedell. She got a notice last year about her Jeep and ignored it. In September, her car died while she was on the freeway.
"I just never had time to go get it fixed," she said. "I was busy and never thought it would be like actually an issue with my car."
Nationally, an estimated 46 million cars have an open recall. That translates into one in six cars on the road.
Many of the cars that require a manufacturer's fix are from the largest recall in U.S. history involving Takata airbags.
Huma Hanif, a 17-year old high school student from Fort Bend County, was the 10th U.S. victim to die from a faulty airbag. In March, she was killed when flying shrapnel from the explosive airbag stabbed her in the neck after a fender bender.
The Hanif family said that they weren't properly notified about the recall. Honda claimed that multiple notices were sent out. The teen's family sued and recently settled out of court.
The Takata recall puts a spotlight on a group of drivers at risk -- used car buyers. Car companies often don't know how to contact second and third-generation owners about what needs to be fixed.
Which is why knowing how to check on your own is so important.
You can locate the VIN on your car by looking at the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield on the driver's side. You can also find it in the door jam.
To check, go to the website www.safercar.gov and type in your VIN.
You can also check your VIN by visiting https://www.carfax.com/recall.
Carfax makes it even easier by offering a free app for your mobile device. You can use your license plate or scan your VIN in the door jam and Carfax will tell you about any open recalls.
You can sign up for alerts to get notified if a car has a recall with the government. https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/