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'Do not drive' and 'park outside' vehicle warnings are on the rise

Carmakers and the federal government labeled more than 2.5 million vehicles with "do not drive" or "park outside" due to various safety concerns.

AUSTIN, Texas — The car you drive may put you at risk – and you were never told.

CARFAX data shows more than 2.5 million vehicles across the nation have urgent recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued either “do not drive” or “do not park” notices to more than 200 vehicle models.

"One of the best known cases for ‘do not drive’ is the Takata airbag," said Patrick Olsen, editor in chief for CARFAX. "So in these airbags, the chemicals inside can be prone to change over time, given heat and humidity and time. And it makes the airbag explode with much greater force than it was intended to, sending the metal ring around the airbag into the cabin, the shrapnel. More than 20 people have been killed. More than 400 people have been injured by that."

CARFAX tracks vehicle recalls and maintenance history.

“On the ‘park outside,’ the best known case there are the Hyundai and Kia models that have caught fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged more than 3,000 fires related to these vehicles,” Olsen said.

CARFAX records show 242,000 vehicles in Texas carry either a “do not drive” or a “park outside” warning.

Olsen said many of the urgent recalls are for vehicles issued more than a decade ago. The numbers seem to be increasing.

“I think it's [that] cars have become more complex with a lot more safety equipment, a lot more computer chips. I think it's going to be hard to know for sure until these cars have been out for a long time," Olsen said. "And now, again, as I say, the average age is 12-and-a-half years. I think we're starting to see what happens when these cars get much older than the original automakers, I think, expected that they would be."

If a vehicle has a “do not drive” warning, Olsen said its owner should call the automaker and request a tow truck. The automaker should have the tow and repairs done for free.

With the “park outside” warning, Olsen said to also avoid any other structure.  Do not park next to the garage, he said.

By law, a vehicle manufacturer must notify owners of a recall – but that doesn’t mean everyone gets the notice. The alerts are sent through the mail, and Olsen said they can be confused for junk mail, sent to the wrong address or sent to a previous owner.

Used car dealerships are not required to disclose a recall. So, it’s up to the consumer to research the vehicle’s history.

The NHTSA’s website shows all recalls. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is required to find a specific vehicle’s information. The CARFAX website also shows it. There, either the VIN or the license plate can be used.

At recalls.gov, a consumer can sign up for various consumer alerts including food and drug recalls, consumer product recalls and vehicle recalls.

A breakdown of the 204 vehicles with urgent recalls is on the CARFAX website.

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