You cannot just purchase a used car and assume it’s safe. While Federal Law prohibits dealers from selling new vehicles that have open recalls that have not been done, it does not stop a dealer from selling you a used car with unrepaired recall work. Consumers have been seriously injured or killed by driving recalled cars that have not been repaired. 

The U.S. PIRG, United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, along with Frontier Group and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation, recently released a survey report on AutoNation. The survey examines over 2,400 used vehicles for sale at 28 AutoNation U.S. metro locations over 2 months during Summer of 2019. Of those surveyed, more than 1 in 9 used vehicles being sold by AutoNation, including some listed as certified pre-owned vehicles, had unresolved recalls. Select dealerships had as many as nearly 1 in 5 used and certified pre-owned vehicles with unrepaired recalls.

AutoNation advertises that its used vehicles are “worry-free”. On their website, they go on to claim “we take the risk out of buying a pre-owned vehicle,” and “as an industry leader we hold ourselves to higher standards.” The issue of selling used cars with unrepaired recalls is not new. This has been chronicled with issues relating to AutoNation dating back to at least 2016. AutoNation responded to the report saying that it “provides a transparent buying process for our customers” and informs customers multiple times if a vehicle that they are interested in has an open recall and the nature of the recall. Alexander Brangman, whose daughter was killed by an exploding airbag in a rental car that had been recalled but not repaired, has started a petition to call on Congress to make it illegal for dealers to sell used cars with open recalls.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Thoroughly investigate the vehicle you are looking to purchase for any unrepaired recalls. If there is an unrepaired recall, refuse to purchase the vehicle until it has been repaired at an authorized dealership.
  2. You’ve already purchased the car but now you’d like to see if you missed anything, look up the cars VIN number to see if there are any known & unrepaired recalls. You can look this up via the NHTSA website. If you find any, bring your vehicle to any of the manufacturer’s authorized dealerships to have it fixed.
  3. Provided that your car needs repair but parts aren’t readily available, insist on a safe loaner/rental vehicle from the manufacturer

If you purchased a used car that does not have any unserviced recalls but has resulted in many trips to the repair shop, you might have a lemon. Call Liz Gayle today to see what your options are!

You can read more about recalls and technical safety bulletins here.

Read more on NBC News.

Read the Summary of the Report from U.S. PIRG. View and download the full report here.