The 2015 Chicago Auto Show recently wrapped up, and with all the deals and promotions, now is a popular time to go new, and used, car shopping. We recently wrote about some major car safety issues, but here’s another: did you know that dealers — small and large — are not required to get cars under recall repaired before selling them to you? Used car salespeople are not even legally required to tell you that the car needs repairs at all!
That used car dealers do not need to reveal such important information is a startling, and very dangerous, fact. On the contrary, however, car manufacturers like Ford and Honda have a duty to announce recalls within 60 days of finding the safety problem. According to Carfax, one out of five cars on our country’s roads is driving with an unfixed safety problem that was part of a recall.
Left unattended, the problems at the center of the recalls can result in a crash, injuries, or even the death of occupants. For example, air bags can inflate improperly, with plastic and metal parts parts bursting through and injuring or killing someone in the car. Other recalls have been issued that, if unfixed, result in cars stalling, or parts catching fire. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this scary problem is going to get better. In 2004, the number of recalled vehicles was about 32 million. In 2014, however, that number doubled to around 64 million recalled vehicles.
With the number of recalled cars on our roads constantly increasing, and no federal law to protect consumers, the entire nation is at risk. Cars move freely between states and among owners. “We cannot allow vehicles with potentially dangerous defects to leave used-car lots without the necessary repairs,” said the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind.
While the U.S. Government is working towards passing laws to require used car dealers to get the necessary repairs for a recalled vehicle before selling it, dealers would, potentially, rather limit their responsibility to telling car buyers about the recall. This, dealers say, is all that is needed now because of a new government database that indicates whether a car is under a recall.
Of course, there is a federal law requiring that dealers of new cars make the recall repairs before selling the car. But if you are looking for a used car now, or recently bought a car, you should definitely check whether there is an active recall on the car. To check whether your specific vehicle is under a recall, go to https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.
While there, it is also a good idea to take a look at the information and safety advice offered for vehicle shoppers at http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers.