How and Why to File a Car Safety Complaint

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages car owners to file complaints when they have safety concerns about their vehicles. Consumers play an important role in helping automakers and government understand the threats to safety that cars present.

Some issues with cars are so rare that they may only present themselves to a handful of customers; automakers may never encounter them despite extensive testing. This is why it is important for you to file a complaint if you believe your vehicle has a safety issue. Every piece of available data is valuable in solving these difficult problems.

The NHTSA receives many complaints, and some are more useful than others. If you file a complaint, take care with your submission to be sure you are part of the solution.

DO include:

  • your vehicle identification number, which is not required, but which gives investigators important details about where your car was made and how it is configured;
  • a clear statement of how you expected the car to behave and how it actually behaved;
  • whether you can duplicate the malfunction – that is, it happens every time;
  • any relevant information about maintenance and repairs; and
  • any relevant aftermarket equipment installed on the vehicle.

DO NOT include:

  • your feelings – only facts are useful to safety investigators;
  • spelling errors – researchers will look for patterns using keywords, and misspellings hinder that effort;
  • multiple problems in a single complaint.
  • If you believe your vehicle may have a safety issue, visit the NHTSA website and file a complaint.

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