SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Consumer advocates question why used cars can be sold lawfully even though the vehicle might be subject to a safety recall. NBC Bay Area reported that consumer advocates argue used cars with active recalls should not be sold until the vehicle receives the necessary recall inspection and repairs. However, used car salespersons counter consumer advocates’ arguments by claiming that cars would be much harder to trade and to sell if every car needed to be checked for recalls and then have recall repairs made before the dealer could sell them.
Federal motor vehicle safety laws, enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, do not prohibit dealerships from selling used cars that have been recalled but not have been inspected as part of the recall process or have recall repairs completed. The NHTSA will not allow new cars to be sold if they are subject to a recall, but federal law does not contain a similar prohibition concerning used cars.
States’ laws vary on the subject. California law permits used car dealers to sell cars despite an active recall. Other states do not. Consequently, consumer advocates, particularly a group known as Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), have called upon lawmakers at the federal and state levels to change the law so that dangerous cars are not sold to unsuspecting consumers.
Used cars currently for sale in the Bay Area have safety recalls for doors that spontaneously open, steering wheels that fall off of their mooring, and engines that stall for no reason, according to the news report. Therefore, Consumers can protect themselves by researching the VIN of the car in which they are interested through the NHTSA website to see if there was a recall on the car and inquire whether the recall repair was performed.
A national association for auto dealers said that forcing each car to have recall repairs performed by the dealers before getting into the hands of consumers will disrupt the flow of vehicles into the stream of commerce and could cut the car’s value by over $5,000.00.
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