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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for gathering information on problems with automobiles, analyzing the problems for trends, and identifying defects based on those trends. Whether a problem related to defective tires or vehicle fires, if the problem is found to be widespread, NHTSA will make the manufacturer aware of the problem and may require a safety recall.

However, NHTSA cannot investigate problems it does not know about. For this reason it is crucial that you report potential safety problems with your vehicle to safety investigators who may be able to do something about it.

The same website contains valuable information about existing recalls, current and past defect investigations, early warning reports on potential problems and many other safety tips.

Other sources of safety related information include Sean Kane’s Safety Research and Strategies, Inc. and Public Citizen. Safety experts at both organizations also compile safety, accident and crash statistics. You should also inform these groups of safety concerns with your vehicle.

If your vehicle has exhibited a problem, it is easy to notify NHTSA using their online reporting system found at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/. The online form takes approximately 8-10 minutes to complete and you must have certain information about your vehicle including: model year, make, model, the affected component and VIN (VIN is not required, but is very helpful in processing the report). The information can also be submitted by phone between the hours of 8:00 am – 8:00 pm at (888) 327-4236 or TTY: (800) 424-9153.

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