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Do Some Used Car Dealers Hide Defects from Buyers?

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Defective Products on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Because of the potentially serious injuries that can result from an unrepaired vehicle defect, motor vehicle recalls are among the most-publicized product recalls. Consumers typically learn that their vehicle has a defect through reports on the national news or from letters sent by the manufacturer. Despite these public and important warnings, not every vehicle owner responds to the recall notice and has the necessary repairs made. One consumer advocate estimated that 25 percent of recalled vehicles do not get repaired.

Many of these defective vehicles are later sold to used car dealerships, which turn around and sell them to new buyers. Despite the potentially serious recall notice attached to the vehicle, the dealer does not have to tell buyers the vehicle they are driving off the lot has a defect. With 20 million vehicles being recalled each year, that translates to millions of defective vehicles on the road, often driven by someone who is not even aware of the problem.

A story from WPTV-TV provides an example of what can happen when a recall notice is not disclosed. Pontiac put out an open recall notice for the 2000 Grand Prix due to a leak that could cause the engine to catch fire. A man who had bought one of the recalled Grand Prixs used was driving one day when his car burst into flames. He later found out about the recall, which the dealer where he bought the car never alerted him to.

According to WPTV, federal law does not require used car dealerships to warn customers that a vehicle is subject to a recall. To protect themselves, consumers should not the vehicle’s vehicle identification number and check on Carfax’ free recall search engine to see if the vehicle was part of a recall. Consumers can also call the service shop at a dealership that handles that brand of vehicle for information about recalls.

Source: WPTV-TV, “Used cars can have dangerous defects,” Shannon Cake, May 23, 2011

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