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Used Car Buyers May Not Be Informed About Auto Recalls

In June, 2011 we alerted consumers that when they purchase a used car it may have outstanding recall notices making it defective, and that consumers could easily find themselves stuck with a dangerous, defective car. A recent study by Carfax found that in 2011 almost 3 million – that’s  3 million! – of the used cars found online had been recalled for problems but had never been repaired.
The Carfax report stated that in Florida more than 100,000 cars had been recalled, but not repaired.
Before you buy a used car, be sure to check the vehicle identification number (VIN) for open recalls. Carfax provides a free link to do this.  Click here to check VIN number on your vehicle.  If there is a recall on your vehicle, manufacturers’ recalls are repaired at no cost to you, provided the work is done by an authorized dealership for that make of vehicle. Also, be sure to check for open recalls on your current vehicle if you bought it used. If there is a recall that has not been corrected, contact an authorized dealer about getting it repaired.
Ignoring Auto Recalls Threatens Public Safety; Nearly Three Million Recalled Cars For Sale in 2011
Ignored vehicle safety recalls pose risk on the road
Used Car Buyers May Not Be Informed About Auto Recalls
By Wayne Hogan
June 22, 2011
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office shows that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not have authority to require automakers to inform used car dealers of recalls. That issue “could pose a significant risk to the safety of millions of vehicle drivers and may have a negative impact on recall completion rates,” the study said. “Many consumers may be unknowingly putting their lives at risk by purchasing a defective vehicle.”
The fact is that used car dealers may be selling cars and trucks that have been recalled but not repaired because manufacturers don’t send them the same recall notifications that are sent to franchised dealers according to the study. To make matters worse, even if the used car dealers or franchised dealers know of a recall, there is no requirement that must tell prospective buyers or make the repairs before a sale.
In 2009, more than 35 million used cars were sold, including 11 million sold by used car dealers. According to the study, part of the problem is that there is no database that they can check using a vehicle identifi-cation number (VIN) — which all cars and trucks have — to see if there are recall-related repairs for that vehicle that haven’t been made. NHTSA estimates that average of 70 percent of repairs are made within 18 months of a recall. However, investigators said the average from 2000 to 2008 was 65 percent. The average also varied substantially from year to year.
It also varies significantly by manufacturer. Some manufacturers had a better than 90 percent average repair record for recalled vehicles, but at least one manufacturer averaged only 23 percent fixed and another 53 percent. The report didn’t name the manufacturers.
The study recommends the safety administration make its vehicle recall database searchable by VIN number and ask Congress to give it the authority to ensure car buyers are notified of recalls prior to sales.
For more information or to read the full General Accounting Office report.


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About The Author

Picture of Wayne Hogan

Wayne Hogan

Wayne Hogan, a Jacksonville native, has been with the firm since 1977. He graduated from Florida State University, where he received both his bachelor’s and J.D. degrees. He specializes in all areas of personal injury law. In addition to participating in many professional associations, he and his wife, Pat, are also actively involved in the community.