August 1, 2014 at 8:06 pm

NHTSA: GM website provided 'incorrect' recall information to some owners

Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said late Friday that General Motors was providing owners of some recalled cars with “incorrect or misleading” information because website searches showed no recalls for some vehicles.

The auto safety agency said GM had revised the language on its owner website where owners can type in their vehicle identification number to determine if a vehicle has been recalled. Some GM recalled vehicles in campaigns where GM hadn’t yet begun the recall or had available parts were listed in the VIN database as having no outstanding recalls.

The issue was brought to NHTSA’s attention by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

“NHTSA determined that owners of some recalled GM vehicles are receiving incorrect and misleading results when using the automaker’s current VIN look up system. NHTSA contacted GM to request that they immediately correct its system and inform consumers of the problem. Consumers who have used GM's tool and found no recall should recheck starting at 5:30 p.m. Fridayor contact GM directly by telephone to get accurate information,” NHTSA said.

In a statement issued on Friday evening, GM said : “We are aware of NHSTA's inquiry on the VIN lookup issue. We are making the necessary changes to our website so customers can identify individual VIN numbers. Until that is complete, if customers have questions about their vehicles, they should call the customer care numbers listed on our website.”

GM’s existing website does not meet NHTSA’s new standard that goes into effect on Aug. 20. Under a regulation announced in August 2013, all major automakers must provide an online tool that enables consumers to search recall information by Vehicle Identification Number - and show if vehicles have any uncompleted recalls. Owners will also be able to get the same information at safercar.gov.

Major automakers had asked NHTSA to delay the rule by a few months but on Monday, the agency rejected the request.

GM has issued a record setting 60 recall campaigns this year calling back almost 29 million vehicles — an all-time record.

The company paid a record setting $35 million fine to NHTSA in May for delaying a recall of 2.6 million vehicles for a nearly a decade that were linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes. GM also agreed to up to three years of special oversight by NHTSA.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com