Last week, several vehicle safety groups released a study showing something shocking. Apparently, many car dealers are selling recalled vehicles on a pretty regular basis. According to researchers, one out of every four vehicles on eight CarMax Inc. used car lots in three states were subject to safety recalls. Despite this, the defects were thus far unrepaired. Among the recalled vehicles on CarMax lots were several with defective Takata airbags that had not been replaced. If you’ll recall, Takata airbags have inflators that can explode in a way that can cause serious injury or death.
In all, on the eight CarMax lots they looked at in three states, researchers found a total of 461 vehicles with at least one outstanding and unrepaired safety recall. This is out of the approximately 1,700 vehicles for sale. That means recalled vehicles made up 27 percent of all vehicles for sale. That number is twice the rate found in a similar study of five CarMax lots back in 2015. Of the recalled vehicles in the current study, 41 had no available repair as yet. However, 45 of the vehicles were equipped with Takata airbags, which is the largest recall in history and includes tens of millions of vehicles from a dozen or more manufacturers.
A Call for Car Dealers to Be Held Responsible
The study was conducted by the safety group, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation. However, they were assisted on the project by the Center for Auto Safety and the advocacy group, Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) Education Fund. What they found shocked them because a major car dealer was selling many recalled vehicles without repairing them. Part of their report included a call for law enforcement in all states to crack down on these types of practices, in which the safety of the public.
When someone buys a car from a used car dealer, they should expect that the vehicle they purchase will be safe to drive. While it is technically not illegal under federal law to sell a recalled vehicle with unrepaired safety defects, the practice is routinely roundly condemned by auto safety and consumer advocates because it puts many unsuspecting drivers at risk; not just the driver, but everyone around the driver, including other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and others.
In a statement responding to the study last week, CarMax claimed that every vehicle listing on its website includes a link to search for open recalls affecting that vehicle and that their employees are required to review vehicle recall information with its customers. In addition, customers are asked to sign a form acknowledging they’ve received NHTSA recall information and they receive this prior to signing sales paperwork.
Is Disclosure of Recalled Vehicles Sufficient?
However, the researchers in this study say that disclosure of recalls is not good enough. To back up their point, they noted one pickup truck they had listed for sale that had a total of six unrepaired recall defects, including one for engine fire and for airbag failure. The researchers suggested that disclosure in such a case is in no way sufficient. They noted that the seller should feel an obligation to the buyer to make sure the car is as safe as possible. Just as no dealer would sell a vehicle with a leaking gas tank or that was burning oil, they shouldn’t feel comfortable selling one with an airbag that could potentially explode or with an engine that could explode at any moment.
Some in Congress have been working to change the law for quite some time, although they have been stymied by auto dealer lobbyists. However, even without a specific law in place a number of public officials in several states are starting to crack down on the practice of selling recalled vehicles where they can. Earlier this year, more than 100 auto dealers in New York State settled with their Attorney General following an investigation that revealed hundreds of used autos had knowingly been sold to customers with safety recall defects that had not been repaired. The dealers also agreed to disclose open recalls to future customers and pay a fine. And last year, the Federal Trade Commission also reached a settlement with General Motors and several auto dealers over claims that they sold vehicles with open recalls, even as they advertised that all of their used vehicles were subject to thorough vehicle inspections prior to sale.
And while there is no specific law against the practice of selling recalled vehicles without repairing them, it is helpful to know that used car dealers who sell such vehicles can still be held responsible. The fact that used car purchases are always on an “as-is” basis does not mean the seller has no responsibility to make sure the vehicle sold is safe to drive, not just for the driver, but for everyone else on the road.
Experienced Texas Attorney
If you have been seriously injured in an auto or truck accident, don’t rely on the criminal justice system to help you. Sometimes, a practice you think should be illegal really isn’t. You should hire an experienced San Antonio car accident attorney to help you through the process of dealing with insurance companies and opposing attorneys. They should also conduct a thorough investigation of all circumstances surrounding the accident, and all drivers and vehicles. If you are injured because a car dealer sold a car with defects that were recalled but not repaired, the Car Accident Lawyer at Hill Law Firm has the skills necessary to make sure they and any other negligent party or parties are held responsible and you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages. Call us today for a free consultation.
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