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How do I file a safety complaint about a defective Toyota?

By: LawInfo
The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is an office within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) respondible for conducting defect investigations and administering safety recalls to improve safety on our Nation's roadways. There are four types of safety complaints you can report to the ODI: 

•Vehicles: All motor vehicles -- cars, heavy trucks, RV's, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, buses, etc.
•Tires: All types of tires -- requires you to submit your vehicle information as well.
•Equipment: Non-original equipment -- replacement oil filters, wipers, RV accessories, lights, floor jacks, etc.
•Child Restraint: All types of child restraints --infant seats, booster seats, convertibles, etc.

If you think your vehicle or equipment may have a safety defect, reporting it to NHTSA or ODI is an important first step to take to get the situation remedied and make our roads safer. If the agency receives similar reports from a number of people about the same product, this could indicate that a safety-related defect may exist that would warrant the opening of an investigation. In order to make it convenient for consumers to report any suspected safety defects to NHTSA, the agency offers three ways to file such complaints.

Vehicle Safety Hotline
NHTSA operates the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Vehicle Safety Hotline telephone service to collect accurate and timely information from consumers on vehicle safety problems. You can call 1-888-327-4236 or 1-800-424-9393 toll free from anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to register complaints or receive recall information about a vehicle. The Hotline also has Spanish-speaking representatives and offers a dedicated number, 1-800-424-9153, for use by persons with hearing impairments.

When you call the Hotline to report a vehicle-related safety issue, you will be asked to provide certain critical information that agency technical staff needs to evaluate the problem. The information you provide is filed on a Vehicle Owner’s Questionnaire (VOQ), entered into the agency’s consumer-complaint database, and forwarded to NHTSA technical staff for evaluation.

VOQs filed through the Hotline will be mailed to you for verification of data. In addition, you will receive an explanation of how your report will be used, as well as a request for written authorization allowing NHTSA to provide your personal identifiers (e.g., name, address and telephone number) to the manufacturer of the alleged defective product you own. Note that you are not required to provide such authorization. However, sometimes sharing this information with the manufacturer can help facilitate the recall process.

Safercar.gov
You can also report a vehicle safety issue to NHTSA online at our vehicle safety Web site: www.safercar.gov. Select “File a Complaint” within the Defects and Recalls section of the home page. The information you submit via the Web site is recorded in VOQ format, entered into our consumer complaint database, and provided to our technical staff for evaluation.

When you fill out a VOQ online, you will be given the option of checking a box to authorize or not authorize the release of your personal identifiers to the manufacturer of the alleged defective product you own. Again, while you are not required to provide such authorization, doing so can sometimes help facilitate the recall process.

U.S. Mail
To report a safety complaint to NHTSA by mail, send your letter to:
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Office of Defects Investigation (NVS-210)
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590

Online Complaint Form
You can file your complaint using the ODI online complaint form at:  http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm. 

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