Consider Recalls When Buying a Used Car


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While consumer groups are fighting to ban the sale of vehicles with open safety recalls, buyers need to take a few steps to protect themselves when purchasing a used car or truck.

So far, 2017 has been a year filled with car recalls and reports regarding consumer safety during the purchase of used vehicles. In March 2017, the Federal Trade Commission finalized settlements to allow auto companies to sell used cars with unresolved safety recalls. Dealers must now include a statement within the advertisements noting that the vehicles might have pending recalls. These
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settlements bring to light the importance of buyer research and due diligence when purchasing a used car.

Putting Safety First

According to automakers, more than 150 million vehicles over the last three years have suffered from major defects, which have resulted in safety recalls. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of those vehicles never have the safety issue resolved. This issue is made worse by used car sales.

Dealerships often mislead consumers with the phrase "certified preowned." This phrase makes consumers believe that their cars have passed rigorous inspections. However, prior to the FTC settlements, dealerships didn't have to disclose whether the vehicles had any open safety recalls. Instead, they could simply sell the cars "as is" and further put the safety of consumers at risk. Now, dealerships must disclose the fact that a vehicle has open safety recalls before a sale is complete.

What Can Buyers Do?

While consumer groups are fighting to ban the sale of vehicles with open safety recalls, buyers need to take a few steps to protect themselves when purchasing a used car or truck.

1. Research the history of the vehicle. Check credible news sources, online car forums, and dealership websites to determine whether the vehicle has ever had a safety recall.

2. Thoroughly review the vehicle's history reports. Carfax can be a great source to show any outstanding safety recalls on specific vehicles. If the dealership doesn't provide a Carfax report, then a buyer should ask for one before the sale is completed.

3. Enter the vehicle identification number into the NHTSA-sponsored safecar.gov website to receive the latest up-to-date report on the specific vehicle.

4. Ask that the vehicle be taken to a certified mechanic for a second opinion. While this service can cost approximately $100, it can alert buyers to any safety or mechanical defects within the vehicle.

5. Be sure to carefully read the fine print of all advertisements and purchase agreements to ensure that any safety recalls have been disclosed and resolved. Finally, ask for a work order as proof that any safety recalls have been addressed.

The Bottom Line: Carefully Research a Used Car's History Before Buying It

The FTC settlements have helped to protect the rights of consumers. However, consumers still need to practice "buyer beware" when purchasing a used car. By following the above five steps, and completing thorough vehicle research, consumers can avoid purchasing a car with open safety recalls. In conclusion, a buyer should never let an open recall on a used vehicle put their safety at risk. Dealerships need to abide by the latest rules and regulations regarding recall disclosures. If a dealership fails to follow the new guidelines and sells a car with an open safety recall to an unsuspecting buyer, then the buyer should consider taking legal action. A trusted law firm can help the buyer understand his or her consumer rights during the purchase of a vehicle with a safety recall.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neale & Fhima, LLP
Aaron Fhima has a long record of success taking on large defense firms. Aaron focuses on taking an aggressive approach to representing his clients’ interests, and develops creative case strategies designed to win maximum compensation as quickly as possible.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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