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Used Car Dealers Taking Heat Over Recall Issues

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Used carsYesterday I wondered if we would see the used car industry taking heat over auto recalls in the same way that car rental agencies have been in recent weeks.

Let’s start with this news report from NBC Action News in Kansas (please excuse the 9-second ad). This investigative report has already had repercussions that included getting Carfax to change the way that it reported on cars. As a matter of fact, the news team actually interrupts a sale of a used car under recall on camera:

With over 20 million vehicles recalled so far this year, the lack of regulation on used and rental vehicles is well founded. Since it is the manufacturer, not the dealer, who usually pays for the servicing of recalled vehicles, I doubt that there will be much sympathy for used car dealers on this issue. Dealers don’t agree. Attorney Brett Emison on the Injury Board Blog Network brings us a statement from the National Automobile Dealers Association:

‘We’re on record as opposing any legal mandate that would prohibit a dealer from selling a vehicle with open recalls,’ said Douglas Greenhaus, NADA Director of Environmental Health and Safety.

Clarence Ditlow, the executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, has stated that experts believe that 25% of all recalled cars are never repaired. While there are no numbers available on how many of these end up on used car lots, the numbers are still disturbing.

Despite the lack of formal legal language covering recalls, there is the simple fact that people buy cars expecting them to be safe. (According to he video above, a full 30% of the cars on used car lots around the city were under recall.) Emison’s view of the issue is crystal clear:

Car dealers are generally subject to implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. These doctrines require the seller to provide goods and products that are fit for ordinary purposes and any particular purpose of which the seller is aware. Certainly, selling a defective vehicle subject to recall violates both implied warranties.

Car dealers — whether new cars or used cars — owe it to their customers and others on our highways to provide safe, reliable vehicles free from known defects.

So you’ve got a used car and are understandably concerned whether it’s safe to drive. What avenues are available to you so you can see if your car needs something fixed? Wendy Ryan, a reporter for ABC Action News, put together an excellent list of resources as part of her detailed coverage of the story.

How to check the car you’re driving or considering buying

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that consumers go to to review recall information for all manufacturers, but the agency’s website does not have a way to check the VIN of a specific vehicle.

To check cars from ToyotaLexusScionBMWMINIAudiVolkswagenNissan, and Infinity for recalls, consumers must go to the manufacturer’s website or call the service department of a local dealer.

For manufactures that do report to Carfax, the reporting service offers a free search engine where consumers can check vehicle identification numbers for open recalls. Visit that site at

Check the icons and the manufacturer’s name on Carfax’s free recall page to ensure your car is one of the makes supported in the recall database. Otherwise, call the service shop at a dealership that supports your model.

Consumers can find their VIN on the steering wheel side of the car in the corner near where the window meets the dashboard.

Image by Foot Slogger (Zelda Richardson), used under its Creative Commons license.


One Response to “Used Car Dealers Taking Heat Over Recall Issues”


My daughter and I first consulted with Dan Rosen after a very serious auto accident. Dan had several phone conferences with me, and Tracie was available whenever I called. We would recommend personal injury attorney Dan Rosen to anyone!
Sally from Denver, Colorado

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