Car, light truck and motorcycle manufacturers selling products in the US will be required to provide an online vehicle recall search tool in 2014, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced changes to existing regulations.
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To be installed on manufacturer websites by August 14, 2014, the search tool is designed to provide consumers with an easily accessible way to find out if a vehicle has been recalled.

Updated at least weekly, the NHTSA says the recall information will be accessible by entering a vehicle identification number (VIN).

Industry journal Automotive News reports the rule changes are designed to quell US regulators' concerns that vehicle recalls are often too difficult for consumers to discover as well as boost the total number of recall repairs carried out.

The NHTSA puts the current completion rate near 70 per cent, but says this is impacted by the nature of the defects.

In a statement, the safety body says the rule changes will allow consumers to instantly determine whether action is required to address an uncompleted safety recall affecting their vehicle.

"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in that effort,” transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said.

The amendments to the Early Warning Reporting, Foreign Defect Reporting, and Motor Vehicle and Equipment Recall Regulations also require manufacturers directly alert vehicle owners of recalls within 60 days of notifying the NHTSA. This is to include making recall notices more explicit by specifically having the words "urgent safety recall" in capital letters and in an enlarged font at the top of any such letter.

The US publication highlights brands such as Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen as already offering a recall search function on their US websites.