It's not uncommon for dealerships to sell used vehicles with open recalls. Make sure you are aware of any open recalls and all of the details behind them if you're considering buying a car with a recall.

How to Check for Recalls

Buying a Car with a RecallIt's great when you find a vehicle you want to buy! But what does its recall history look like? This should be one of the first things you look into when buying a used car.

To look up recalls, you can check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. It’s easy, and all you need is its vehicle identification number (VIN).

Type in the VIN in the search bar, and NHTSA’s recall search tool shows you any safety repairs not done, open recalls, and recalls that were completed over the past 15 calendar years. This way you’re clear about what you’re getting yourself into and informed about the car's recall history.

Additional Used Car Buying Steps

If that used vehicle you want has no open recalls, awesome! It should be safe to buy, right? Possibly, but there are more steps to buying a used car that you should take. These steps can help make sure you're ready to buy the vehicle and it's safe to drive:

  1. First, you need to set up a budget. You can use our Payment Calculator to get an estimate on how much car you can afford. Our calculator doesn’t include tax, title, and license fees, so make sure you factor in these costs.
  2. Second, know where your credit stands and what’s on your credit reports. You can get a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – by visiting Look everything over to make sure it’s accurate, and dispute any inaccurate negative information. As for your credit score, you want to look at your FICO score, as this is the one most auto lenders use when determining approval. Check if your bank, credit union, credit card provider, or any other lender you're working with offers free access to your FICO score. You can also get your FICO score for a small fee at
  3. Lastly, research the vehicles you’re interested in, test drive them, and compare their features. This is where you should also check for open recalls as well as look up safety ratings and reviews from previous owners. Even if the title is clean and the car feels fine during the test drive, take your time to check every switch, button, and knob to make sure everything works. You should also have a certified mechanic inspect it to look for potential issues hiding below the surface.

Ready to Start the Car Buying Process?

If you’re ready to get the ball rolling on buying a used vehicle, but don’t know where to find a dealer that can work with bad credit, we’ve got you covered.

Auto Credit Express helps car buyers by connecting them to local dealerships that work with lenders that finance borrowers with poor credit. Getting started is easy! Fill out our free and secure auto loan request form to get the process started.