Proposed legislation would force repairs on recalled cars before sold as used

Consumer Report

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s estimated that there are 70 million vehicles on the roads today with open recalls.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, recently told a committee he wanted to protect consumers from buying unrepaired cars with safety defects.

“That’s why I am introducing the Used Car Safety Repair Act,” Blumenthal said, adding, “Incredibly, most Americans have no idea that there is no provision in federal law that requires that consumers be told those cars are under recall or why.”

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) applauds the proposed legislation saying it would protect used car dealers and put pressure on car companies to fix defects.

Savannah Attorney Stephen Lowry (Harris Lowry Manton, LLP) does many product liability cases. He says normally, only about 50 percent of recalls are repaired.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there are a number of vehicles out on the road that haven’t had the recall work done,” Lowry said.

“If there were some teeth in the laws that certainly would make manufacturers do a better job and certainly would make dealers and auto repair shops do a better job,” he added.

Lowry advises consumers to check on sites like Carfax before buying a used car. You can also plug in the VIN number of any car you may be thinking of buying at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to find out if that used car has any recalls.

“So there are lots of resources out there for the buyer to go look, so they should do that,” Lowry said. “But I mean at the end of the day, they don’t have as much information as the manufacturer. They don’t have as much information as the dealer.”

The attorney says, oftentimes, dealers and even auto shops have access to technical service bulletins that list recalls and potential safety defects.

“In the best of all worlds they wouldn’t sell these vehicles,” said Lowry. “They’d get them fixed before they do anything but I think we all know that is just not going to happen.

“So any more strength they can give to the laws that will encourage or demand that manufacturers and dealers do a better job is obviously going to help.”

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