7 On Your Side: Easy way to keep track of your vehicle's recalls

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Before you take off on a family vacation, 7 On Your Side wants to help you find a faster way to find out about vehicle recalls. (KGO-TV)

Half of us plan to take a summer vacation this year and 91 percent of those traveling will be taking their personal vehicle, so it is really important to keep track of your car's recall record.

Hearing about a recall and getting your car repaired can be two very different things. The biggest reason is we remain unaware that our cars are under a recall.

When a car is recalled, owners are notified by mail. The letters can sound pretty scary.

Gina Banton of Martinez read a letter that said: "The defect in these vehicles could kill or injure you or other people in the vehicle."

Banton didn't much like getting that letter, but do you know what's worse? Not getting the letter and it happens a lot. So, many recalled cars don't get repaired.

California leads the nation with the most recalled cars on the road without being fixed -- an estimated 5 million cars.

"So it is a serious issue across the state of California with people driving these recalled cars that haven't been fixed, but also buying them with potentially not knowing there is a recall on them," Christopher Basso from Carfax said.

Another half million cars were bought last year that had been recalled, but not fixed. So how do you know if your car is recalled?

The government website recalls.gov is is easy to navigate, but the biggest problem is remembering to check.

A free app from Carfax doesn't wait for you to ask, it sends you notifications.

"It is extremely easy. All you do is give us your license plate number and your email address and we will monitor your car continuously for recalls," Basso said.

With the Takata airbag recall underway, it is extremely important to keep track of your car's recalls. There were 34 million cars made by 10 manufacturers between 2002 and 2014 are on the recall list.

Half a dozen deaths have been attributed to malfunctioning airbags.

Our partners at Consumer Reports has put together a comprehensive guide on the Takata recall.
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