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NHTSA unveils new recall search tool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators on Wednesday unveiled a more precise way for vehicle owners to search online to find out if their cars or motorcycles have been recalled by the manufacturer.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said owners can now search for possible safety recalls on the agency's SaferCar.gov website by using the unique Vehicle Identification Number.

Previously, vehicle owners searched on the NHTSA website by make, model and year, but the number of vehicles actually subject to a recall could be smaller than the search result. Searching by the 17-digit VIN gives a precise result.

NHTSA is also requiring starting on Wednesday that manufacturers of light vehicles and motorcycles provide the ability to search for recalls on their websites using the VIN, which on cars can be found on the dashboard on the driver's side.

Only about 75 percent of recalled cars are brought in by consumers to be fixed and the agency said it hopes the new search tool will boost that rate.

"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

A record 43 million vehicles have been subject to a recall this year in the United States, a NHTSA spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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