Hundreds Of Cars With Open-Recalls Are Being Sold By Dealerships Across The Country

  • Post category:March 2015

Hundreds of Cars With Open-Recalls Are Being Sold By Dealerships Across The Country

Report By ABC Finds Hundreds of Cars With Open-Recalls Are Being Sold By Dealerships Across The Country


There are approximately 17 million cars sold in the United States each year. Federal law requires those vehicles to be free of safety defects and in good working order- which includes recalls. However, an investigation by ABC News and Good Morning America has uncovered that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of recalled vehicles are sold each year without fixed recalls.

Good Morning America investigated new car dealerships by posing as individuals looking to purchase a new car. During the sales interaction, the GMA investigators asked the salespeople about open recalls on the vehicles. The investigators found that some dealers did admit to open recalls, but some dealers did not check for any recalls. [–abc-news-topstories.html, March 2015]

One Chevrolet dealership declared there were no open recalls on a new 2014 Chevrolet truck, although previous investigation by Good Morning America had found and open recall on the truck for a shifting problem, which can cause the truck to lose power in the middle of traffic.

Good Morning America discovered that although dealerships are not required to disclose any recalls, they are not legally allowed to sell a recalled vehicle before handing the vehicle over to the new owner. At the Chevrolet dealership, GMA investigators agreed to purchase the truck to see if the dealership would fix the problem before handing over the keys.

After the investigators picked up the new truck, they checked the VIN number on the General Motor’s website and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database to determine if the dealership had fixed the recall. However, the website listed the truck with an incomplete recall.

The investigators returned to the dealership and asked why the sale was completed without a recall investigation. The salesperson admitted to not checking for a recall and stated he would always check for recalls in the future. The president of the Chevrolet dealership told ABC News, “We have realized that our failure was tied exclusively to human error … From now on we will be cross-checking serial numbers with our service records, prior to delivery, to ensure that each vehicle has been properly tended to.” According to General Motors headquarters, all dealers are supposed to fix any open recalls before delivering the vehicles to the new owners.

An investigation by the NHTSA found that only two dealerships were fined in 2014 for not adhering to the federal recall law. The NHTSA told ABC News in a statement,

“Selling a new vehicle that is under recall but has not been remedied is a violation of the law and a risk to public safety. There is no excuse for dealers to sell new vehicles while under recall, and NHTSA has penalized dealers who have failed to meet their safety responsibilities, including two in just the last six months. Anyone with information about dealers selling new cars with safety defects should provide that information to NHTSA so we can investigate and hold dealers accountable for any violations. We also hope that Congress will act soon to provide the same legal protection to used car buyers and rental car customers that the law now extends to new car buyers.”

New car buyers should not rely on a dealership to fix recalls on their own, but should ask for recall reports and proof of any fixed recalls before completing a purchase. Additionally, new car buyers should research models for potential recalls before completing the purchase on any new vehicle. Check the car’s VIN number on the on NHTSA’s database or the car manufacturer’s website for recall information. This extra step could save vehicle owner’s lives.

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