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Used-Car Buyers Should Check for Vehicle Recalls

There has been a continuing problem with the way car-rental agencies deal with vehicles that have been recalled for safety defects.You would think the agencies would take the vehicles in for repair automatically, but of course that would take the cars out of service for some period of time and would cost the agencies money in lost rental revenue. So what frequently happens is that the rental agencies simply keep the cars in service until it’s time to sell them to the public. and even then the vehicles are not taken in for repair. The problem is passed on to the purchaser, either with or without notice.

The same problem exits with private owners of vehicles. Sometimes the owners get their cars repaired, but sometimes they just sell them without repairs or notice of the recall announcement.

A recent article in the Dayton Daily News detailed this continuing problem. Here are excerpts:

More than 80,000 used vehicles in Ohio that were advertised for sale online last year had open recalls, which can pose safety risks to both auto buyers and motorists with whom they share the road, according to a recent study.

Repairing recalled parts is essential to the performance, safety and resale value of used vehicles. But about 2.7 million used vehicles across the country that were placed for sale on the Internet in 2011 had open recalls, according to a study by Carfax, a Virginia-based company that provides vehicle-history data.

Many sellers do not divulge that their vehicles require repairs, and many buyers do not know their purchases have defects. Auto experts said consumers should do their homework whenever they buy a used vehicle to determine whether it needs repairs at a dealer.

“People need to realize these are safety issues,” said Chris Basso, public relations manager with Carfax. “By not getting them fixed, you are putting your family and other people who you are on the road with at-risk.”

In Ohio last year, about 83,000 cars with open recalls were available for sale online, according to Carfax; that was up from 50,000 cars in 2009.

Vehicles sold online represent only a portion of all used vehicles on the market.

The online listings are “just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Basso said many used car dealers and individual sellers do not disclose the fact that their vehicles have defects.

Auto sellers have no legal obligation to divulge unfixed recall issues, and it is not against the law to sell vehicles with defects, Basso said.

But auto manufacturers go to considerable lengths to tell car owners of recalls, he said, because defective parts can cause vehicles to malfunction or they can lead to costly damage.

Auto makers fix recall problems for free, so there are no reasons — financial or otherwise — for ignoring the warnings, Basso said.

After buying used vehicles, consumers should contact the closest local dealer that sells their brand of car or truck to determine if there are any recall issues they need to resolve, said Jim Mitchell, executive director of the Ohio Independent Auto Dealer’s Association.

“Just give them the (vehicle identification number) to see if there are any open recalls,” Mitchell said. “If there are, get them fixed, because it is to their benefit and safety to do so.”

Owners can research recalls online at websites such as and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s site,

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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