You cant trust a manufacturer to be truthful
Re: Fight Club. In most instances, they (manufacturers) are the ones instituting the recall, presumably based on numbers and figures.. NHTSA (I'm in the US) will document the recall if it is justified, and the manufacturer is always the one paying for for parts and work and documentation and mailings and phone calls and....
In some cases, it seems the NHTSA will suggest -- or in egregious cases, demand -- a recall, but in -all- cases it is a manufacturer recall.
If the NHTSA demands that Toyota or Hyundai recall a lot of cars for something, then of course the NHTSA should be public with that -- as well as Toyota or Hyundai.
If Toyota or Hyundai recall on their own, then of course they should notify the NHTSA and then all related parties should also publish that.
But I should still be able to go to toyota.com, and get proper, up-to-date, recall information for a Toyota that I'm looking at buying or already own. It should be the first place I look, because (again) if Toyota is involved in a recall of their stuff, nobody will know more about it than them.
It's really no different than changelogs, errata, and bugfix releases on important software: We don't rely on the government for that, nowdo we?
Nay. If I want to know if AES is secure or not, I look to the vendor and peer-reviewed studies -- not the government. If I want to know if Windows 8.1 or 10 or whatever is a good step, I look to third-party reviews or the vendor website, not the government.
I propose that people aren't as dumb as you suggest. If they're smart enough to look for recalls before buying, then they're also smart enough to find those recalls without government intervention and expense. And a manufacturer, in any published recall, will always have more up-to-date information about a particular vehicle than any other party aside from, perhaps, the original owner.
If recall information is not published clearly and accessibly on manufacturers' websites,. then that is a failure of legislation and capitalism, not of a lack of a central repository.
Because again, if I'm looking to buy a car and I want to know what that models list of official issues are, why would I ask the government? The companies that both made and recalled the broken thing should foot the entire bill, even if it requires new laws to promote this behavior.