There is No Law Protecting You Against Purchasing a Vehicle with a Recall Not Serviced

May 17, 2019

Americans purchased the smallest number of new vehicles in the first quarter of this year since the fourth quarter of 2014 according to J.D. Powers. This trend may not be changing. Demand for affordable vehicles is climbing. The price of an average new car reached more than $36,000 in February. This is a 29 percent increase from just 10 years ago.

Even if new car sales were back on the rise, insuring the safety of used vehicles should be a major concern.

It is not.

The older a vehicle gets, and the more owners it passes through, the lower the recall repair rate tends to be, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is often not owner neglect.

There is no industry-wide protocol to track used cars to insure recalls get fixed. This is a major loophole.

Consumers are protected by federal law when it comes to purchase of new vehicles.  Do not assume as a consumer that you are protected just because you are at a dealership. More dealers are taking to the streets to stock their lots for profits.

The last burst of momentum to solve the used-car loophole came in late 2015 and early 2016, in the midst of the Takata airbag debacle and the aftermath of GM’s ignition-switch crisis. In Congress, Senator Richard Blumenthal tried to advance blunt-force legislation that would have banned the sale of used cars with open recalls, but failed in the face of opposition from the National Automobile Dealers Association. AutoNation stepped up with a company-wide policy against such sales but retreated as the costs of grounding inventory became too high.

It seems easy enough to link recall notifications to vehicle registrations- information-sharing. Government agencies and legislators need to agree.

The Consumer Federation of America suggested additional needed actions below to protect the american public from recalled vehicles.

1.  State attorneys general should enforce existing state laws that prohibit car dealers from knowingly, negligently, or deceptively selling recalled used cars that have not been repaired.

2.  In addition, Congress and the President should enact federal legislation, enforceable by NHTSA, to prohibit car dealers from selling recalled used cars.

3.  Require fleet operators to remedy open recalls upon notice and prior to returning vehicles to service.

4.  Recalled taxis and ride service vehicles must be remedied upon notice and prior to returning vehicles to service.

5.  Auto auction companies must remedy recalls during their refurbishing process and prior to the transfer of the vehicle.

6.  Require car companies to send out notices (by e- and postal mail) every two months until the recall is resolved or vehicle has been removed from service.

7.  Require DMVs and state inspection programs to include VIN-specific recall notices on registration renewals and inspections to alert the owners that their vehicles have unrepaired recalls.

8.  The government (NHTSA) must initiate an effective public education campaign to get vehicle owners to sign up for recall notifications.

9.  New and used car dealers must register owners for recall notices on as part of the selling paperwork. Insurance companies should provide a recall report before providing insurance.

10.  Manufacturers must provide loaner cars for owners of recalled vehicles when there are significant delays in obtaining recall repair parts.

NHTSA estimates 53 million vehicles are on the road with unresolved safety recalls. Let’s not wait until there is a major safety crisis before action is taken.