RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - From deadly airbags that shoot shrapnel in your face to power steering failures that could make you lose control of your car, dangerous defects lead to the recall of millions of vehicles each year. Getting word to drivers that their car has a big problem isn't always easy.
In less than an hour, On Your Side Investigator Rachel DePompa found dozens of vehicles on our roads with some serious problems.
It wasn't hard to find risky defects, even under the hood of vehicles in our own NBC12 parking lot.
"This one does have an open recall. And this is for the Takata Airbags as well," said CarFax's Chris Basso.
Airbags with the potential to explode in an accident. 24 million recalls worldwide. The Takata airbags are linked to six deaths, including a Henrico County mother of three. She died in a fender bender when shrapnel from the airbag sliced open her throat in front of her children.
"This car has four unfixed recalls," Basso said, checking out a Honda. "That car is a potential time bomb. I mean it's a catastrophe waiting to happen the longer those recalls are left unfixed."
In five minutes we checked six vehicles, and half of them were still carrying the deadly airbags.
All of the drivers had no idea. "You may not have gotten notices or mistakenly discarded them," Basso said.
Basso says open recalls are a, "major issue especially here in Virginia. Our data shows that there's over a million vehicles that have at least one unfixed safety recall."
He says one out of every five vehicles in Virginia has an open recall.
Using a new app from CarFax that could be the key to your family's safety, Basso traveled around with us to several parking lots in greater Richmond. All we did was plug in the license plate number and state to numerous vehicles and instantly found out if there were any dangers lurking under the hood.
We instantly found cars with some serious flaws.
Basso told Renee Burnette of Blackstone, "There's a safety issue where your computer needs to be reprogrammed so that it's operating properly."
Burnette said she's going to call her dealership immediately to get it fixed for free.
SUVs actually have the highest number of open recalls in the U.S.
"One out of every three minivans and one out of every five SUVs. that's a serious issue for people that are driving their kids to and from school, soccer practice everyday," said Basso.
We happened to check out the vehicle of a Chesterfield mother of three. She couldn't believe the danger lurking in her minivan.
"Oh my gosh. Well I've gotten something in the mail, but I don't know where to go or what to do," said Lacey Costner.
We discovered she has a recall for a potentially dangerous fuel pump leak. "Essentially there's a fire risk for your car. Your fuel pump can leak gas which can cause a fire," Basso said. "It's a serious safety issue with this vehicle."
Recalls like this are free to fix. You just have to take the time to schedule an appointment with a dealership.
The app we used to alert drivers in this instance is called mycarfax. You are even able to set up an alert on your phone or device so you can know immediately if there's ever a recall on your car.
You can also pull up the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website and click on search for recalls.
Another place to check for recalls is Recalls.gov.
All of this is critical to ensuring a safe ride for your family.