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Used Car Dealer Chain Pledges to Stop Selling Recalled Vehicles

As San Diego injury lawyers, we are pleased that AutoNation recently announced that it would no longer sell used vehicles subject to a recall until they have been repaired. Since car sellers are currently not legally obligated to fix defective used vehicles prior to sale, we are hopeful that other dealers will make similar pledges.

As we have previously noted, auto recalls have surged to record levels over the past several years. Approximately 64 million vehicles were recalled in 2014, nearly double the previous record, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Defects are also becoming more deadly, with 124 deaths associated with General Motors’ faulty ignition switches alone.

Federal law requires automobile dealers to remedy any safety recall prior to selling new vehicles. However, like defective rental cars, current laws do not require the seller of a car to notify a potential buyer that it is subject to recall. To further compound the problem, car manufacturers have difficulty tracking down owners of defective vehicles, particularly when they have been resold. As a result, many are never repaired.

“There's no way to expect that customers would or should know of every safety recall on every vehicle they might purchase, so we will ensure that our vehicles have all recalls completed,” said AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson. “We make it our responsibility as a retailer to identify those vehicles and remove them from the market until their safety issues have been addressed.”

Legislation passed the Senate that would prohibit rental car companies from selling or renting unrepaired recalled vehicles. However, requirements for used car sellers were omitted from the final bill. The legislation is named after two young women who died in a 2004 California car accident involving an Enterprise rental car. A month before Enterprise Rent-a-Car rented a PT Cruiser to Raechel Houck, 24, and her sister Jacqueline, 20, the rental agency was informed of a serious safety defect—power steering fluid could leak and ignite under the hood. Because Enterprise failed to remove the vehicle from its fleet of rental cars, the two sisters later died in a fiery crash.

In the absence of federal and state laws, consumers considering a used car purchase can visit the NHTSA’s website and enter their vehicle’s VIN number to determine whether it is subject to an open recall.

If you or someone you love about has been seriously injured by a dangerous or defective vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego product liability lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.