Purchasing a used car is always a gamble. Buyers run the risk of investing their money into a vehicle, only to experience one mechanical problem after another.
Buying a used car can be especially dangerous if it has an open recall that was never repaired by the dealer. When something goes wrong, it can happen without warning and result in a serious crash.
Open safety recalls are a common problem at used car lots
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety recently released a report that unveiled how common it is for used car dealers to sell vehicles with unrepaired, open recalls.
The two organizations surveyed more than 2,400 used cars sold by AutoNation at 28 locations across the United States during the months of July and August.
It was revealed that 285 of the vehicles sold had open recalls that were never fixed. Some of the recalls included defective Takata airbags and General Motors ignition switches. Both of those recalls caused hundreds of fatalities.
Every one of AutoNation's dealerships in 16 metropolitan areas reportedly sold cars with open recalls. For 47 of the recalls identified in the probe, there were no remedies available at the time of analysis. In order to have the defects fixed, car buyers would have to wait for months.
Currently, there are no federal regulations requiring that recalls are fixed before selling a used car. Only sellers of new cars are required to do so.
Where is the oversight?
Many dealers only care about making a sale. If they can get away with selling cars without disclosing the open recalls, they'll continue to do so and put lives at risk.
Under Texas law, used car dealers are required to disclose the number of miles a car has traveled on the title assignment but the number of miles a car has traveled isn't an indicator of a dangerous defect.
Despite the efforts of lawmakers to push legislation requiring used car dealers to fix all open recalls, it's unlikely we'll see more oversight in the near future.
While only 285 used cars with open recalls were discovered, the study only focused on AutoNation. That means, the number of used cars with unrepaired recalls being sold in lots across the US is likely much higher.
What can I do to protect myself?
In order to avoid getting behind the wheel of a dangerous vehicle, buyers should first run the vehicle identification number at www.safecar.gov before making a purchase. If you have already purchased a used car that turns out to have an open recall, you may have it repaired for free at an authorized dealership.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash caused by a safety defect, the dealer who sold you the car could be held accountable. To find out what legal options are available to you, it's best to consult with an experienced Texas car accident attorney who can help you build a strong legal claim.
To learn more, contact Chad Jones Law today. Our law offices are based in Waco, College Station, and Midland.