Anytime we purchase a vehicle, we expect that it will operate to its best capacity, both from a performance and safety standpoint. Never buy a used car until you have checked its vehicle identification number (VIN) at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site.
Lack of federal oversight
Know this: Used car sellers are not required to fix recalled vehicles before they sell them – even if they hype the cars as “inspected” or “certified.’’ While federal laws prohibit dealerships from selling a new car if repairs tending to a recall haven’t been performed, used-car buyers aren’t protected the same way.
Used-car dealers are expected to reveal that they have not fixed repairs associated with a recall. Should you buy a vehicle under recall, make sure you immediately take care of any potential problems.
According to the non-profit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation, one in four cars have unrepaired safety recalls. Don’t think that just because your brand-new used-car is shiny and a late model, everything is okay. Don’t fall into the trap of a false sense of security. Due diligence is due diligence when it comes to your safety.
The often-enough bumpy recall road for used cars
Everyone has a used car story. This is Corey Jackson’s.
Three years ago, he bought a 2008 Buick LaCrosse with a leather interior and heated seats. His South Chicago Heights car salesman didn’t tell Jackson about a safety recall that involved problems with an ignition switch defect. Jackson learned of the defect the hard way – on a two-lane highway, when the ignition switch failed and shut down the engine while eliminating power to the steering wheel, brakes and airbags. The LaCrosse careened off the road into a tree.
Jackson broke his jaw and ankle in the crash, but he was lucky. The ignition switch has been implicated in 124 traffic deaths, according to a report earlier this year in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rosemary Shahan of CARS said there is something wrong with the fact that no federal law is on the books to prevent used cars under safety recalls from being sold. She said that used car dealers could easily check a car’s recall status.
“But they don’t,’’ Shahan said. “They just go ahead and sell it anyway… and most people just assume that, of course, the dealer’s fixed the recall first.’’
According to the Sun-Times, Carfax, the vehicle history service that allows consumers to track a car’s background, revealed more than 57 million vehicles are on the road today with unaddressed recalls.