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Car Buyers Beware: Millions of Recalled Cars Sold Without Essential Repairs

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A recent study by Carfax finds that nearly 2.1 million recalled cars that had not had the necessary repairs went on sale online in 2012. Although the number is less than the 2.7 million such vehicles in 2011, the percentage of unrepaired recalled cars for sale in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan increased an average of 25%, according to a Carfax press release. Florida, California, and Texas had the highest number of such cars for sale online in both 2011 and 2012, the statement says.

Michael De Groote reports for Deseret News that Kurtis Ming at CBS13 Sacramento, CA, found that the problem exists in car lots as well as online. Ming said:

‘CBS13 took its hidden cameras to used dealership lots in Sacramento to find out how commonplace these open-recall cars really are. A CBS13 producer easily found a dozen recalled cars at the three used car lots randomly checked in Sacramento. We found a Honda CR-V with a potentially dangerous airbag, a Toyota 4Runner with an accelerator pedal that could get stuck, and a Chevrolet Cobalt with fuel part prone to leak — a potential fire hazard.’

One used car dealer told CBS13 they get the recalls taken care of, but the station found five vehicles on that dealer’s lot that had not been fixed yet.

‘There’s only one reason the car is under a safety recall and that’s because it’s unsafe,’ Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety told CBS13.

In an ABC News article, Elisabeth Leamy writes that the actual number of unrepaired recalled cars sold to unsuspecting buyers is probably higher than the nearly 2.1 million figure. She says Carfax can tell that vehicles have been recalled but not repaired:

Because the Feds make recall notices for certain makes and models available. And manufacturers and dealers track the VIN numbers of the individual vehicles that are brought in for the needed fix.

Leamy points out that although you can be in danger if you unknowingly buy a recalled car that was not repaired, if you do know the car you are thinking of buying has been recalled but was not repaired, you can use that as a bargaining tool in negotiating a price for buying the car. The dealer will make the repair without charge, she notes.

Leamy quotes Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax, who said: “Before a car changes hands, there are lots of opportunities for everyone involved to check for open recalls, yet this data is proof that it’s not happening enough.”

To see if a car was recalled, you can look it up at, Leamy writes. “It takes just a few minutes,” Leamy writes, “but could save a lifetime of heartache.”

Carfax, which created the “Vehicle History” report in 1986, maintains what it calls “the largest vehicle history database ever assembled,” comprised of more than 11 billion vehicles records from more than 44,000 sources in North America.


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