The Center for Auto Safety has called for NHTSA to require automakers to retain records of safety defects for at least 20 years, double the amount of time proposed by the government agency.
NHTSA proposed in May to require manufacturers retain such records for 10 years, up from the five years currently required.
The center, a nonprofit safety advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said in a statement Monday that records older than 10 years have significantly impacted defect investigations and important recalls. The center said 19 out of 43 of NHTSA's current investigations involve vehicles or equipment produced more than 10 years ago.
"For decades, we've been arguing that the previous requirement was obviously totally unacceptable in terms of when they are made to when they have issues," Jason Levine, the center's executive director, told Automotive News on Tuesday. "Even their active investigations, almost half of those would not be required, even under the new rule, to have records retained at this point in time.
"When problems start to crop could certainly be more than 10 years after a given part, component or the first vehicle coming off the line was manufactured," Levine said. "Look at Takata; those are a lot older than 10 years in a lot of circumstances."
Takata's defective airbag inflators prompted the largest recall in global automotive history, forcing 19 automakers to recall some 100 million airbags worldwide, and at least 24 fatalities and about 290 injuries globally have been linked to the issue.
In a statement, NHTSA said it will "carefully review all the comments received during the public comment period and respond to them in the in final rule-making."