The process is simple, and all you need to have on hand is your email address, Vehicle Identification Number, Make, Model, Year, and documentation related to the complaint like photos or a police report. It takes about five minutes to fill out the form on the site. The NHTSA insists that all complaints are reviewed; however, only some will lead to an investigation and potential recalls. The review process can take a long time, but you should be notified if there is a recall based on your complaint. People whose cars have had a recall due to Takata airbag safety issues should make sure to note that on their complaint, as the NHTSA already has an open investigation.
It’s important to notify the NHTSA if you think there’s something wrong with your car, like an airbag issue that could potentially be dangerous. If the NHTSA receives similar reports from multiple people about the same product, they can open an investigation to determine whether the defect should result in a recall. If you don’t report car safety issues, then the NHTSA can’t do anything to make sure car manufacturers are held responsible.