Used Car Buyers—Not Dealers—are Responsible to Check and Repair Safety Recalls

Is there dealer fraud or false advertising in the used car industry?

This is the kind of thing that gives used car salesman that stereotypical shyster reputation.

Is it right that large used car dealerships can claim in advertising that their ‘certified’ preowned vehicles have been “careful carefully inspected and repaired” even when there could be outstanding unrepaired safety recalls for the vehicles?

Well that’s with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently decided was acceptable advertising in a settlement with General Motors (GM) and two other large used car dealers. Not only do the used car dealers not have to make recall repairs, but they don’t even have to specify any recall problems. All the dealers have to do is tell the used car buyer that the car could be subject to recalls and provide information on how to find out if an auto recall exists.

The “shelf life” of this FTC ruling affecting the advertising practices GM and the other two chains is 20 years and similar settlements have been proposed for other used car chains that the FTC is investigating. Consumer groups feel this is tantamount to false advertising.

While the FTC feels the settlement gives consumers enough information to “make informed purchases” it flies in the face of recent efforts by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make used cars safer my calling for the dealers to actually make the safety recall repairs prior to reselling the used vehicle. NHTSA is the government’s auto safety watchdog agency, but lacks the authority to mandate recall repairs by used car dealers.

Currently, there is a 42 million vehicle recall for Takata® airbags, which often “violently explode” upon minimal impact and send shards of shrapnel throughout the vehicle’s cabin. To date, the defective airbags have been responsible for almost 200 injuries and 11 deaths. Part of the unrepaired airbag problem is that these vehicles, many of which are older, have changed hands—sometimes repeatedly—since the original owner and efforts to get auto safety recall notices to the current vehicle owners have been largely unsuccessful. Millions of unsafe vehicles of many different auto manufacturers remain on the roadways. Particularly troublesome is the fact that the defective airbags will continue to weaken overtime, making them literal “time bombs” the longer they remain unrepaired.

The Law Firm of Timothy Abeel & Associates is committed to helping automotive consumers. We are specialists in lemon law, breach of warranty, and dealer fraud cases. Call us at 888-611-5481 for a free consultation.

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