Used Car Dealers Selling Vehicles With Open Safety Recalls
NBC's investigative reporter Jeff Rossen has a great program out today on the deceptive sale of used cars that have pending safety recalls. The few minutes it takes to watch this video could save you money or save your life.
Missing airbags, brake malfunctions, steering problems, unstoppable cruise control, electrical defects, fire danger - buyers reasonably assume all of these safety recall issues are disclosed. It is shocking to think that a used car salesman would conceal even open safety recalls. One common ploy is for the dealer to say the car has been through something like a 100 point checklist. The buyer should demand to see, and then actually read through, that checklist item by item. Did the mechanic simply check for things like floormats, but not working brakes? And what does a check mean - that the car simply has four tires or that none of the four show excessive wear?
One of the tactics of which consumers should be aware concerns a car dealer's deceptive use of the Carfax report. That report may fail to show an existing recall, and yet the car buyer is urged to rely on it explicitly. Carfax can be useful for verifying VIN numbers and other details about a car, but it is a mistake to think it is always a full and accurate history of that car. There are several versions of the Carfax service, and there are many reasons why a Carfax report might be incomplete. Not all Carfax reports will show recent accidents or NHTSA safety recalls. Car buyers should cross-check the Carfax report by getting additional information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration directly.
California consumer safety advocate Rosemary Shahan agrees that the sale of used vehicles with unrepaired recalls is a dangerous and deceptive practice. She says such cars are "a threat to you, your family, and everyone riding with you." Shahan is director of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS),which is promoting legislation in California to stop these unsavory and unsafe practices. You can find out more about this effort here.