The Used Car You Are Thinking About Purchasing Might be Subject to a Safety Recall


July 30, 2014

With daily coverage of the spiraling number of GM vehicles that may be subject to recall, which is currently at 27 million, motorists might well forget that there are other vehicles that pose safety risks.  While purchasers of new vehicles can rest assured that new car dealerships should not sell vehicles that have unrepaired safety recall issues, there is no legislation requiring that safety recall issues be repaired before used vehicles are sold.  This means that many drivers who buy used cars, pickups or SUV's could be driving around in a vehicle that has safety issues serious enough to justify a recall.

How widespread is the risk?  Carfax® conducted a review in 2011 and found that there were 2.7 million used vehicles up for sale that had unrepaired recall issues.  When vehicles with safety recall issues are not repaired, the risk of a collision that causes injury or death endanger not just the vehicle owner but also passengers in the vehicle subject to recall and everyone else on the road.  The number of used cars with unrepaired safety recall issues can be assumed to be much higher because the Carfax® review did not include used cars subject to recall that would be listed for sale in the months immediately after the review.

A spokesman from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) reportedly told America Now that imposing a mandate on used car dealers to identify and repair all recall issues prior to selling a used car would impose a significant financial burden on used car dealerships.  NADA Legislative Affairs Director Bailey Wood told America Now that purchasers of new cars should be responsible for checking whether the used car they purchase needs repairs because of a recall.

Steve Jordan, director of operations at the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), told America Now that the organization would support a requirement of full disclosure of recall issues and a universal system regarding implementing recall repairs.  However, he contends that there are challenges in implementing such a policy because vehicle manufacturers are not necessarily inclined to provide vehicle recall information to independent dealers free of charge.

It seems reasonable that used car dealerships should check for safety recall issues and fix any problems before selling a car to unsuspecting consumers.  At the very least, used car dealers should notify car buyers of any issues, so the purchaser can have the repairs done rather than driving around in a potential death trap.

Under current law, a used car buyer is rolling the dice because of the lack of regulations or standards for implementing repairs.  This means that used car purchasers should take steps to confirm that the vehicle they are purchasing has not been recalled.  Some steps that car buyer can take include:

  1. Contact the vehicle manufacturer with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and ask about any recalls.
  2. Inquire about the used car dealership’s policy regarding checking for recalls and fixing any issues.
  3. Enter the VIN number into the Carfax® website which provides recall information free of charge.
  4. Take the vehicle to a reputable mechanic for an inspection.

If you or a family member is injured in a collision that might have been caused by a mechanical malfunction or vehicle defect, you might have a right to financial compensation. Know your legal rights- call Montlick & Associates today for your free consultation. 

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Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.