Money MattersDont Waste Your Money


Unsafe recalled cars still being sold

Posted at 1:21 PM, Nov 05, 2014

It's been another bad month for automakers, with more than 5 million cars now recalled for dangerous airbags.

But at least one car buyer is asking: Why are used car dealers still allowed to sell these cars, without fixing them first?

Thought dealer would have fixed issues

Deadly airbags. Dangerous ignition switches. 2014 has been the year of the recall.

When Diane Miller recently bought a used 2010 Chevy, she figured the dealership selling it would have fixed any issues.

But just to be safe, she went to the government recall website,, and was stunned at what she found.

"To my amazement, up popped three recalls," she said.

Her printout showed three outstanding recalls, including the dangerous GM ignition switch.

"I had three open recalls on my car, which I had taken ownership of the previous Wednesday, and driven for six full days," she said.

Worse, the dealership had given the car a 172-point inspection, but still had not told her about the most important safety item of all.

"There were hearings in Congress about this, and one girl ran into a tree and died," Miller said. Why did the dealer ignore it?

No state or federal law

New cars cannot be sold, under federal law, if they have been recalled.

It turns out there are no state or federal laws requiring a dealer to fix recalls before selling a used car. New York City is the only major municipality in the country requiring used car dealers to even alert buyers to recalls.

A proposed law in California failed this past summer, after the nation's largest used car dealer group lobbied against it.

But Diane Miller is not giving up.

"The reason I am talking with you today," she said, "is in hopes that we might be able to help some other future used car buyers who come into any lot around the state looking for a good used car."

Consumer group petition

A dozen groups -- including Consumers Union and the Consumers Federation of America -- are petitioning the FTC to require dealers to at least inform buyers of unrepaired recall items.

Meantime, 75,000 people have signed a petition at to prohibit the sale of unfixed used cars.

We checked with the Ohio Auto Dealers Association, which recommends that dealers fix recalls if the used car is the same make as their dealership.

But if it is another brand, they are not even allowed to do the fix, so you need to make the check yourself before you drive off the lot with your car, so you stay safe and you don't waste your money.

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