C.A.R.S. News Archives (2015-2017)

Tennessee Law Fuels Used-Car Recall Fight
Automotive News
December 27, 2017
by Eric Kulisch
"Proponents of a new Tennessee law regulating sales of recalled vehicles call it a step forward in closing what some call the used-car loophole. Consumer and safety groups call it a sham that's written not to protect consumers from dangerous cars, but to shield dealers from lawsuits.

At issue is whether disclosure of an open recall offers the consumer enough protection against a safety defect.

Under federal law, new vehicles with open recalls cannot be sold. But the ban doesn't extend to used vehicles. That gap has frustrated efforts by manufacturers and safety regulators to improve recall repair rates, as vehicles under recall get harder to track as they pass from owner to owner. Efforts in Congress to close the loophole sputtered amid opposition from dealer groups, as did an effort by AutoNation to withhold recalled used cars from the retail market.

The Tennessee measure, which takes effect Jan. 1 and was supported by the state's dealer lobby, doesn't bar the sale of used vehicles with pending recalls. Rather, it requires dealers to check a recall database before selling a vehicle and either perform the recall repair or notify the customer of any defect. Customers would have to sign a form acknowledging they were notified. (Vehicles subject to a manufacturer's do-not-drive order would have to be repaired before sale.) ....

Yet safety advocates say the policy is a cop-out. They warn that the disclose-and-sell rule sets a precedent for other states to roll back safeguards for used-vehicle purchases, which are governed in many states by consumer protection laws. Rather than increase transparency, they say, the law attempts to shield dealerships from responsibility if a vehicle sold with a recall is involved in an accident.

'They are trying to legalize fraud,' Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, told Automotive News. 'It's written to protect unscrupulous car dealers.'

While there's no federal law barring sales of used vehicles under recall, used-car buyers are indirectly protected by state and federal laws against unfair and deceptive trade practices. The Tennessee law is designed to nullify those types of protections, Steven Taterka, a former assistant state attorney general who represents consumers in auto fraud cases, said during a conference call for reporters."

Read full report: Automotive News, Tennessee Law Fuels Used-Car Recall Fight

Read more, including how to avoid being victimized by dealers who sell unsafe, defective recalled cars
"Will Equifax Ever Be Held Accountable for Its 'Rookie Mistakes'?"
November 15, 2017
By Diana Hembree
"For a few bracing weeks this fall, consumers harmed by Equifax, Wells Fargo or another financial institution had the right to their day in court.

Trump caves in to Wall Street crooks, betrays consumers and our military heroes and veterans
Trump caves in to Wall Street crooks, betrays consumers and our military heroes and veterans     (click image for larger version)
But in late October, Senate Republicans voted to overturn the newly minted rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which gave consumers the right to join class-action lawsuits against banks, credit bureaus and lenders. Now consumers' only recourse is a secret arbitration hearing – which corporations win 93 percent of the time.

'This vote marked a truly shameful moment in Congress,' said Amanda Werner, campaign manager for Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, who dressed as Monopoly Man to 'troll' Equifax CEO Richard Smith during a Senate hearing in October. 'Just weeks after holding hearings on scandals of historic proportion, the Senate granted Equifax and Wells Fargo a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.'....

'In its business model, customer privacy and data is Equifax's biggest concern and most prized asset,' [cybersecurity expert] Moehlenbruck observes. 'But it seems that adequate security training and other best practices weren't in place to guard it.'

Consumer advocates say that the best way to drive home that and other pro-consumer messages is to take negligent corporations to court. Of course, the Senate and Trump just took away consumers' right to sue financial institutions, noted Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Responsibility and Safety (CARS), adding that many car owners ruined financially in an auto loan scandal at Wells Fargo now have little hope for justice. 'It hurts, but we'll keep on fighting,' she says. 'I expect more people will send a message on election time, especially since abuses will likely proliferate – especially because corporations no longer feel they have to be on their best behavior.'"
"Car Loan from Wells Fargo? You May Be Entitled to Compensation"
September 30, 2017
By Steve Evans
"If you took out a car loan from Wells Fargo, pay close attention to the news, your mail, and your bank accounts. After a new round of controversy, the company has promised to reimburse car loan consumers who were wrongly charged for car insurance that they didn't ask for or need.

The situation is summed up in a class action complaint that alleges the bank signed up more than half a million car loan customers for unnecessary auto insurance. Among other charges, plaintiffs in the case also allege Wells Fargo violated the RICO Act, or racketeer-influenced corrupt organization act, a federal law that dates to 1970 and was enacted to battle organized crime.
The lawsuit comes less than a year after the bank stirred up public outrage for opening millions of unauthorized accounts for customers who never asked for them and often charged fees to maintain the accounts....

Consumer advocates say that this latest episode is part of a trend. "There's a litany of wrongdoing on the part of Wells Fargo," says Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League in Washington. "We've moved our organization's money out of the bank. They're a poster child for bad corporate behavior and at this point nothing surprises me."

Unfortunately, for consumers who lost their cars and their good credit ratings because of extra charges, the damage is already done. In some cases, such a hit can ruin careers, says Rosemary Shahan, president of CARS and a longtime activist who is working with service members and their families affected by the Wells Fargo fallout. 'It's a really serious problem because if you have financial issues, you can become a security clearance risk in the military,' she says. 'Some of these people have had their credit ratings badly damaged, and they risk having their security clearance revoked.'

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects service members who are on active duty out of the country by blocking lenders from summarily foreclosing on their homes or repossessing a vehicle. 'You have to get a court order before you can do that,' Shahan says. 'But Wells Fargo admitted that they did not even bother to check the database for anyone in the military. Every bank knows the CRA is there; there is no excuse for not checking military status. It's not hard to do; it's their job. And when somebody is in a war zone, serving our country, it's not too much to ask.' "

Read more: MoneyGeek.com: Car Loan from Wells Fargo? You May Be Entitled to Compensation
" 'Flood Cars' Sneaking onto the Market after Hurricanes"
September 19, 2017
by Diana Hembree and Steve Evans
"Andrew Shawcroft was pleased with the new car he bought from an Oregon dealership in 2015: a 2004 Nissan Murano that he paid for with $12,000 in cash. What the 27-year-old high school teacher didn't realize was that it had all the signs of a "flood car" – a vehicle transported from the East Coast soon after Hurricane Sandy whose electrical system was so badly damaged a mechanic would later find it was in danger of exploding...

'Flood cars are a huge problem,' says Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Responsibility and Safety (CARS). 'There's no way to make them safe. They're basically rotting from the inside out and are loaded with bacteria and other contaminants that can cause serious health issues. But they will soon be popping up all over the country, including dealerships that will sell some of them as "new" cars.'

Last week, the Department of Justice issued an advisory warning about auto fraud after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In a September 14 memo, the agency said that it is anticipating 'a high volume of flood-damaged automobiles' to be sold by unscrupulous dealers."

Read more: MoneyGeek.com: "Flood Cars Sneaking onto the Market after Hurricanes"
"Wells Fargo may have lied to Congress about Fraudulent
Auto Loans, Consumer Coalition Says"
Benzinga / Money Geek
By Steve Evans
September 7, 2017
"Consumer outrage over Wells Fargo's business practices appears to be reaching critical mass.

On August 31, just hours after Wells Fargo revealed that employees had created at least another 1.4 million unauthorized consumer accounts, a coalition of 33 consumer groups fired off a letter to two congressional banking committees charging the bank may have lied to Congress last year about its fraudulent auto insurance sales.

Wells Fargo protects their profit and interests, but not yours.
The coalition, led by Public Citizen & Americans for Financial Reform, suggest top-ranking executives at Wells Fargo may have misled lawmakers during an active investigation last year. During congressional hearings held in September 2016, the executives "may have knowingly and deliberately withheld information" about the bank's fraudulent auto insurance sales practice, according to the coalition.

The auto loan scandal, broken by the New York Times earlier this month, revealed an internal Wells Fargo report that showed the bank had charged more than 800,000 people for auto insurance they did not need, leading 274,000 customers to become delinquent on their car loans and nearly 25,000 to have their vehicles repossessed. Some of them had their credit damaged, including enlisted military personnel who stand to lose security clearances as a result of damaged credit scores.

The consumer coalition reports that the bank's own timeline showed it was aware of the 800,000 customers sold unnecessary insurance in July 2016, several months before when the executives testified before the two banking committees in Congress. "Yet Stumpf's testimony made no mention of this misconduct, even when he was asked directly whether fraudulent activity might exist in other business lines," the coalition pointed out....

'GOP Senator Crapo and Rep. Hensarling have to decide whether to further expose Wells Fargo's illegal practices and deception of Congress, or cover them up,' said Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, one of the signatories to the consumer coalition letter. 'If they fail to hold Wells Fargo accountable, that will send a signal to all banking institutions that it's open season on American consumers.' "

Read more: Benzinga / Money Geek: Wells Fargo may have lied to Congress... Consumer Coalition Says
How did Wells Fargo turn fees for items like $3 cups of coffee
into over $1 billion in profits? Well, it's like this:

"Lawsuit over Wells Fargo's Predatory Lending
Heads to Appeals Court on Friday"
Benzinga / MoneyGeek.com
By Steve Evans
August 23, 2017
"Scandals continue to buffet Wells Fargo & Co. with each new accusation of misconduct, whether it's predatory lending, what board members knew about fake customer savings accounts or the bank forcing unwanted auto insurance on its customers who took out car loans.

But lesser-known legal problems have been stalking Wells Fargo since 2008, when it was among the major U.S. banks to be slapped with a nationwide class-action lawsuit for allegedly deceptive overdraft policies. For years, Wells Fargo and other banks reordered customer transactions from highest-to-lowest payments to maximize the overdraft fees they could collect...

A related class-action lawsuit in California involving overdraft fees was settled in 2016, with Wells Fargo ordered to repay $203 million to customers. A federal judge reaffirmed his ruling that Wells Fargo had misled customers to think the transactions were paid chronologically when they were actually paid in a high to low order solely to yield more overdraft fees.

The average award payout for the more than one million members of the California class action suit was $162, with a few members on the high end receiving several thousand dollars, according to Michael Sobol, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs...

A $39 cup of coffee

Here's how the contested overdraft policy worked: A customer who had, say, $74 in the bank might use a debit card for a $3 coffee, a $7 lunch and then pay a $75 Internet bill. By reordering the transactions, Wells Fargo would deduct the $75 first, which would throw the account into overdraft, then debit the $7 lunch, followed by the $3 coffee, then charge overdraft fees on all three. The fees could reach as high as $37 each – meaning that cup of coffee ultimately cost $39. Just by juggling the transaction order, Wells Fargo would make an extra $74 or so in overdraft charges.

Add a few more small debits here and there, and bank customers could easily owe more than $200 in overdraft fees overnight – charges that would grow daily if they didn't realize the problem or couldn't pay them off immediately...

'There's no question that the high-to-low overdraft fees were set up solely to make more money for the bank, but they were a terrible deal for the consumer,' says Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) and a longtime activist for consumer rights....All the laws we've fought to get on the books to protect people don't mean a thing if banks can force you into arbitration,' Shahan says. 'If this (Wells Fargo case) goes to arbitration, most consumers would get hardly anything.'"

Read more: Benzinga / MoneyGeek.com: Lawsuit over Wells Fargo's Predatory Lending Heads to Appeals Court on Friday
"At Center for Auto Safety, a New Leader for a New Era"
Fair Warning
By Chris Jensen
August 15, 2017
"Since 1970 the tiny Center for Auto Safety has wielded enormous influence through its campaigns to recall vehicles for safety-related defects and to push states to enact consumer protections such as lemon laws. But consumer advocates say the Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit is entering a new and perhaps more challenging environment under the Trump administration. And, for the first time in four decades, it will be doing so under a new leader, Jason K. Levine, who was named the center's executive director today.

Levine, 45, a consumer protection lawyer, will be the center's first new leader since 1976, replacing Clarence M. Ditlow, a legendary safety advocate who died last year of cancer at the age of 72.

The job 'will be more challenging than it has ever been before because the administration announced publicly they want to deregulate everything,' said Rosemary Shahan, the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a California-based group."

Read more: Fair Warning: "At Center for Auto Safety, a New Leader for a New Era"
"Takata stocks tank during massive recall"
Detroit News
By Keith Liang
June 20, 2017
"Washington - Stocks for Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata Corp.are taking a beating amid reports of a looming bankruptcy filing that could potentially upend the largest recall in U.S. history....

A Takata facility
A bankruptcy filing for the company is imminent, according to observers who have watched the air bag maker closely since federal regulators put it in the cross-hairs for making faulty air bag inflators that are prone to rupture in humid climates. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recalled nearly 70 million of Takata's air bag inflators, placing the company in dire financial straits as it scrambles to repair the faulty parts....

Flying shrapnel from exploding Takata air bag inflators have led to a recall of nearly 70 million inflators. The faulty air bag inflators have been linked to 11 deaths and more than 180 injuries in the United States....

Lawmakers in Congress say Takata should be held responsible for fixing its faulty air bags, no matter what happens with its likely bankruptcy filing.

'The bankruptcy process must ensure that the defective Takata air bags continue to be replaced and injured drivers are effectively compensated,' U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement. 'Anything less would amount to letting the company off the hook.'

Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety group, added: 'I'm concerned that if Takata goes bankrupt, that could slow down production of replacement air bags and increase risks among consumers who are often stuck driving unsafe recalled cars, while they wait for months for repairs.

'Some manufacturers, like Honda, have been providing loaner vehicles, but others, such as Ford, generally refuse requests for loaner cars — leaving their customers at risk of death or devastating injuries,' she said."

Read more: Detroit News: Takata stocks tank during massive recall
Showdown between California car dealers and consumers
over e-contracting
by Steve Evans - MoneyGeek.com
May 31, 2017
"A bill to permit e-contracts in auto financing in California has alarmed consumer advocates and attorneys representing victims of unethical auto sales.

'E-contracts allow fraud on a scale I've never seen,' says San Diego attorney Hal Rosner, who represents hundreds of car buyers who have run into legal trouble with e-contracts. 'There is massive fraud going on here.'

Promoted by auto dealers as a convenience, e-contracts make it easier to cheat buyers, according to attorneys. Rosner says unscrupulous dealers have changed e-contracts to slip in fees and add-ons for extras his clients never agreed to, as well as higher purchase prices and down payments than they were promised. Some dealers even manipulate the promised trade-in value on old cars, he said...

Rosemary Shahan is fighting to stop it.

'Agreeing to an e-contract is not like swiping a credit card at the grocery store,' says Shahan, president and founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), a Sacramento, Calif.-based non-profit. 'There's a lot more money on the line, and you don't have the same protections. They (car dealers) argue it will expedite the transaction, though that's not necessarily a good thing for consumers. You want time to review a contract and whatever it is you're agreeing to.'"
CARS note: The author of this anti-consumer bill is Matt Dababneh (D-Van Nuys). A super-rich major car dealer in his district who is very active politically owns Keyes Lexus, which is being sued for allegedly cheating low-income Spanish-speaking consumers by overcharging them for unwanted, expensive add-ons. One consumer alleges he was charge over $6,000 in unwanted add-ons, and that the dealership failed to provide a Spanish-language copy of the e-contract, even though that is required by California law. The consumer is seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit the dealer from engaging in similar practices in the future.

Letter from the consumer attorney who is representing the Spanish-language consumers
Read more: Benzinga: Showdown between California car dealers and consumers over e-contracting

Letters from consumer groups opposing the bill:

Large coalition of pro-consumer, pro-economic justice organizations opposes AB 380

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety opposes AB 380 (Dababneh)

Consumer Federation of California

Consumer Advocates Urge Investigation of Mystery BMW Fires
ABC News
May 17, 2017
by Cindy Galli, Stephanie Zimmerman, and Cho Park
ABC News exposes BMW mystery fires
"Officials from two leading auto safety organizations are calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency tasked with investigating potential defects, to investigate a series of fires in parked BMWs following an ABC News report last week.

Meanwhile, several new consumer complaints from BMW owners reporting similar incidents have appeared in NHTSA's database and on BMW owners' blogs in the past several days.

Calling the 43 fires uncovered by ABC News 'disturbing,' Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said NHTSA should take a serious look at the reports.

'They definitely should,' Shahan said. 'They should be investigating and getting documents from BMW and find out what's going on.'"

Read more: Consumer advocates urge investigation of mystery BMW fires
California Treasurer Chiang's Forum for Exploring California Policy and Politics
"Autonomous Mayhem"
"California's DMV is close to finalizing rules to allow auto manufacturers and tech companies to sell semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars to consumers.

Reportedly, auto manufacturers, Google, Uber, and other tech companies foresee hundreds of billions of dollars a year in profits. Not just in selling a new generation of vehicles, but also in tracking you, compiling your personal data, and targeting you for marketing as you ride along. Plus the vast cost-savings from eliminating millions of jobs held by drivers and truckers..."

Read more: "Autonomous Mayhem: Head-to-Head between safety advocate and CEO of Alliance of Auto Manufacturers"

CARS comments to California DMV raises safety concerns about premature deployment of autonomous vehicles
"Ghost cars could be on streets by year's end"
The Sacramento Bee
April 26, 2017
Tony Bizjak
Could you be seeing this car in your neighborhood soon?
"Cars with no one in them may be cruising downtown streets as early as the end of this year if city and state officials have their way.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles plans to issue rules this year that will allow automakers and tech companies to test autonomous vehicles for the first time on public streets with no one behind the wheel...Autonomous car companies complain the rules are too rigid, though, while consumer advocates say the state is [not] looking out enough for public safety....

The tech industry is countered by consumer safety groups. Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based group, argued this week that proposed DMV rules 'are too industry-friendly and don't adequately protect consumers.' And Rosemary Shahan of Sacramento-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety pointed out that the auto industry has a long history of hiding safety defects on their vehicles."

Read more: Sacramento Bee: "Ghost cars could be gliding down Sacramento streets by year's end"
"Check for Recalls before You Buy a Used Car"
"New legal settlement means used cars for sale with
safety recalls may become more common"
By Consumer Reports
April 21, 2017
"On Friday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced settlements with 104 car dealerships that sold vehicles with unresolved safety recalls without informing the buyers.

New York Attorney General Schneiderman's settlements allow dealers to continue selling unsafe recalled deathtrap cars with "disclosure."
The settlements allow dealers to continue to market and sell used cars with open safety recalls as long as they disclose the issue in their advertising and in showrooms before the sale.

It's the latest wrinkle in a consumer-unfriendly trend that has opened up the sale of more potentially unsafe used cars to the public.

The settlements with the dealerships come weeks after the Federal Trade Commission finalized settlements allowing auto dealer companies to market used cars with unresolved safety recalls, as long as they provide a general statement in advertising that the cars might be subject to a recall.

The FTC settlements from March require used car dealers tell customers how to check for open safety recalls. It's unclear, however, if the FTC will require dealers to disclose open recalls they already know about...

Consumer advocates, who had called for an outright ban on this practice, say that the recent FTC settlements could encourage more dealers to sell cars that are unsafe.

They're allowing car dealerships to mislead buyers about the safety of their cars, says Rosemary Shahan, president of the California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, which is suing the agency in federal court. Two other groups are also part of the lawsuit — the Center for Auto Safety and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

Read more: Consumer Reports: New legal settlement means used cars for sale with safety recalls may become more common
"Critics fear Trump will tap auto exec for [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] NHTSA"
Detroit News
April 24, 2017
By Keith Laing
Could GM CEO Mary Barra be appointed by Trump to head up NHTSA?
"Washington — Car-safety advocates are worried that President Donald Trump might turn over the keys to the agency charged with regulating the safety of the nation's automobiles to someone from within the industry's ranks.

Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety group, said she would not be surprised if Trump reaches out to an auto executive to fill the position of National Highway Traffic Safety administrator, vacant since Trump took office in January.

'He has a penchant of appointing people who have been regulated and allowing them to dismantle agencies,' Shahan continued. 'You have all these companies who have been under investigations for safety violations recently. I wouldn't be surprised if he appointed somebody from one of them. It would be consistent with his other appointments.'"

Read more: Detroit News: "Critics fear Trump will tap auto exec for NHTSA"
"E-Contract Abuse Alert:
How Car Dealers Can Fake Your Auto Loan"
April 14, 2017
By Diana Hembree
"Last December Tanisha Coley was window-shopping at a Kia car dealership in Stamford, Conn., when she decided to fill out a credit application to see whether she had enough credit to buy a car. As a 39-year-old student and mother of five who was working part-time, Coley was in the market for a reliable used auto. After looking around for a while, she left without buying anything. But a few weeks later, Coley was stunned to find her credit report said she had taken out an auto loan of $28,000.

Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D-Van Nuys) is pushing legislation that would make it easier for crooked dealers and lenders to cheat consumers.
Devastated, Coley began frantically calling the bank and other places to find out what had happened. Getting no answers, she and her fiancé went to the Kia dealership where she had supposedly bought a 2013 Mazda. 'I said, "Well, where's the car?" And they looked really nervous and told me it had been sold to someone else.'

How did Coley end up with a loan for a car she never bought? According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf, the Kia car loan was "electronically booked" on December 12 without Coley's knowledge by Credit Acceptance Corporation, a subprime auto lender with a checkered past. According to the counterfeit installment loan, Coley owed a balance of $17,737, minus insurance payments, an extended warranty and a down payment of $7,000 – none of which she had made.

'I finally got someone at the bank to send me the paperwork,' Coley says, 'and I saw someone had e-signed my name on the loan… It was mind-boggling.'....

E-contracting may be easy and convenient, but it has also generated consumer complaints and lawsuits across the country. Some unethical dealers have used e-contracts to charge more than the agreed-upon sales price, tack on hundreds or thousands of dollars in extra add-ons that consumers didn't want or agree to buy, or overcharge for government fees and engage in other illegal practices – such as e-signing consumers' names without showing buyers the contract.

'Unscrupulous car dealers and shady lenders love e-contracting,' says Rosemary Shahan, president and founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), a Sacramento, Calif.-based non-profit. 'The combination of all-electronic transactions and high-pressure sales tactics at the car dealership, which are aimed at consumers who are often tired and feeling rushed after hours of haggling and test-driving cars, make it much easier for dealers and crooked lenders to get away with fraud, forgery and other flim-flam.' Experts say e-contracting abuses are rampant in Spanish-speaking communities...

'Auto loans are now the most troubled consumer financial product,' said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) in a speech last spring. 'The market is now thick with loose underwriting standards, predatory and discriminatory lending practices, and increasing repossessions.'...

Despite its perils, auto sale e-contracting continues to grow and may even be coming to California. The California New Car Dealers Association is pushing for the passage of Assembly Bill 380, which would allow e-contracting during auto sales in California.

The bill, sponsored by Matt Dababneh (D-Van Nuys), is opposed by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, CALPIRG, Consumer Action, the Center for Responsible Lending, the Consumer Federation of California, and the Public Law Center, among other [consumer and economic justice organizations]."

Read more: Forbes: "E-Contract Abuse Alert: How Car Dealers Can Fake Your Auto Loan"

One of the biggest winners would be Credit Acceptance Corp. What's their business model?

Mother Jones: "They Had Created this Remarkable System for Taking Every Last Dime from Their Customers: Welcome to the Lucrative, Predatory World of Subprime Auto Loans"

Here's why pro-consumer groups that work on behalf of consumers and against powerful, crooked special interests are opposing AB 380:

Large coalition of pro-consumer, pro-economic justice organizations opposes AB 380

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety opposes AB 380 (Dababneh)

Consumer Federation of California


Public Counsel

Consumer Federation of America

Attorney David Valdez, who represents many victims of unscrupulous auto dealers and lenders
"Is Your Used Vehicle a Timebomb? Loophole Lets Auto Dealers Sell Millions of Recalled Cars as 'Safe'"
Forbes Magazine
by Diana Hembree
March 27, 2017
"Consumer advocates have been pushing to close the loophole that makes this possible. The fight intensified this February, when six consumer groups sued the [Trump Administration] Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a consent order involving General Motors and two of the country's largest auto dealers. The FTC had issued complaints against the three for failing to disclose that their used cars were recalled for safety problems that were never fixed. In its December 2016 consent order, the FTC allowed the companies to continue selling used cars that were recalled and never repaired as "safe" or "certified" – as long as they disclosed that the recall repairs had not been made.

FTC would allow dealers to advertise recalled cars with lethal safety defects, including catching on fire, as "safe."
Auto safety advocates lambasted the FTC's decision.

'The consent order is crazy; it's insane,' says Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), one of the consumer groups suing the FTC. 'It lets car dealers put death traps on the road. It's worse than nothing because it actually gives car dealers a safe harbor if they sell a used and recalled car that hasn't been fixed.'

....All the major car manufacturers had previously forbidden their dealers to sell used cars with unfixed recalls, says Shahan, but after the consent order Ford reversed gears and began selling them.

And Trump's presidency makes it even less likely these loopholes will be closed, as the case of AutoNation suggests. AutoNation, the country's largest car dealership, had pledged not to sell vehicles with open recalls, but, quietly backpedaled after Trump's victory and resumed sales of vehicles with open recalls. According to Automotive News, CEO Mike Jackson concluded the change in government meant the death knell for legislative action on used vehicles with open recalls."

Read more: Forbes: "Is Your Used Vehicle a Timebomb? Loophole Lets Auto Dealers Sell Millions of Recalled Cars as 'Safe'
"Very Safe, Except for One Thing...
Legal Clash with FTC on Marketing of Used Cars"
Fair Warning
by Paul Feldman
March 27, 2017
"Can a used car be marketed as 'safe' or 'certified' even if it has defective air bags, a faulty ignition switch or other potentially lethal problems?

FTC would allow dealers to advertise cars are "safe" when they have killer safety defects that have not been repaired.
Yes, so long as the used car dealer discloses that the vehicle may be subject to a pending safety recall.

That stance, taken by the Federal Trade Commission, is at the heart of a recent legal settlement with General Motors and two used car dealers over deceptive advertising practices. But it is now being put to the test in a federal court in Washington, D.C., by auto safety activists....

'The sale of "certified" used cars as "safe," "repaired for safety issues," or "subject to a rigorous inspection," when such vehicles are in fact not safe because they are the subject of pending safety recalls, is extremely detrimental to consumers who buy used cars—particularly poor, unsophisticated, and non-English speaking consumers,' declared the Center for Auto Safety and other safety groups involved in the case....

Under the consent order, the agency said dealers who market a vehicle as safe must have completed repairs on recall issues or disclosed clearly that the vehicle [may remain] subject to an open recall.

That, however, can amount to a 'death sentence' for used car buyers who unwittingly purchase vehicles with unrepaired recalls, while also posing a direct threat to others on the road, said Rosemary Shahan, founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, one of the advocacy groups involved in the new legal challenge."

Read more: Fair Warning: "Very Safe -- Except for One Thing"
"FTC Sued for Allowing Car Dealers to Sell Recalled Vehicles with Potentially Lethal Defects"
NBC News
by Herb Weisbaum
Jewel Brangman was just 26 years old when she was killed by a recalled Honda Civic with an unrepaired Takata airbag. More innocent people will die unless we stop the FTC and keep dealers from advertising these cars as "safe."
"Why are dealers still selling cars with unrepaired — and potentially fatal — safety recalls?

Consumer advocates are outraged by the Federal Trade Commission's decisions in several recent cases that allow car dealers to advertise used vehicles with open recalls as safe.

Last year, the FTC reached legal agreements with General Motors and two car dealers who had advertised how rigorously they inspected their cars, but failed to disclose that some of those "certified" or "inspected" vehicles were subject to unrepaired safety recalls.

According to the complaint, some of those open recalls could cause serious injury from issues such as faulty ignition switches and airbags, problems with the power steering and braking, and alternator problems that could result in a fire.

Everyone else in this fender-bender walked away. Jewel Brangman bled to death because she was driving a Honda Civic with an unrepaired Takata airbag. The rental car company, like many dealers, failed to get it repaired before handing her the keys.
As part of the settlement, the commission decided the dealers could claim used vehicles with unfixed recalls are "safe" or have been subject to "a rigorous inspection," as long as they disclosed that those recall repairs were not made. GM and the car dealers did not admit any wrongdoing.

Last week, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group sued the FTC, asking a federal court to review and overturn these consent agreements.

It's Not 'Safe' If It Is Potentially Lethal

"It's a dangerous and irresponsible abuse of the commission's authority," said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto reliability and Safety (CARS). "Instead of protecting consumers, the FTC is allowing false and deceptive advertising. A vehicle cannot be safe when it has a potentially lethal safety defect that hasn't been fixed."

Read more: NBC News: "FTC Sued for Allowing Car Dealers to Sell Recalled Vehicles with Potentially Lethal Defects"
"New lawsuit could force used car dealers to repair recalled vehicles"
The Washington Post
by Richard Read
February 8, 2017
"Recalls have been making headlines for the past several years, but on used car lots, recalled vehicles aren't always easy to spot. That could change thanks to a new lawsuit filed against the U.S. Federal Trade Commission...

....massive retailer AutoNation saw the writing on the wall and announced big plans to repair all recalled vehicles before rolling them into showrooms. A year later, though, AutoNation abandoned that program: not only was repairing vehicles costing the company in lost sales, but CEO Mike Jackson also cited Donald Trump's win in the U.S. presidential election as a sign that legislative efforts to mandate repairs of used cars would stall.

CARS sues to stop dealers from advertising cars with defects, like this Honda with a recalled Takata air bag, that blinded Stephanie Erdmann, as "safe."
And stall they have. As a result, consumer groups like Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have filed a lawsuit against the FTC....

Generally speaking, automakers forbid dealerships from advertising vehicles as "certified pre-owned" unless they've been through rigorous inspections and repaired for any safety problems. However, Ford recently told dealers that they can advertise vehicles as "certified", as long as (a) they don't include the word "safe" in their advertising, and (b) they have buyers sign waivers to indicate that they're aware the vehicle they're purchasing may be unsafe....

Even in today's contentious political climate, when everything is spun for maximum effect, words still mean things. If a car is listed as "certified pre-owned", it implies certain benefits, certain things that consumers can take for granted. Shifting the definition of the phrase is potentially hazardous to consumers' health. On that argument alone, the plaintiffs would seem to have a strong case.

On the other hand, the courts have a long history of believing in the principle of "caveat emptor": buyer beware. The court could cite such precedents and side with the FTC.

We're not lawyers or judges, so we won't comment on the likelihood of one verdict versus another. But we'll do our best to keep you posted."

Read more: Washington Post: "New lawsuit could force used car dealers to repair recalled vehicles"
"How to Buy a Used Car in an Age of Widespread Recalls"
New York Times
January 27, 2017
By Ron Lieber
"For people in the market for a used car, the "certified pre-owned" designation has long been the gold standard, an indication that a qualified mechanic has vouched for the car and that a buyer can expect a vehicle that is - hopefully - almost as good as new.

But the Takata airbag recall, which is the biggest in history, has upended all of that. Now the certified designation - known in the auto trade as C.P.O. - will no longer necessarily have the same meaning. For one thing, last month the Federal Trade Commission made it easier for cars to be billed as "certified," even if they were under recall and hadn't been fixed yet.

car rentals at the airport
Ford allows its dealers to sell cars with killer Takata airbags as "certified" and charge extra for them
And just as significantly, Ford - with the F.T.C. settlement for cover - told its dealers this week that they could sell recalled vehicles and certify them too, so long as they did not advertise them as "safe" and required buyers to sign forms acknowledging that they were aware of the problem.

Against this backdrop, one dealer in Florida has refused to sell recalled vehicles that he cannot get fixed, letting 100 or so pile up on a lot miles from his main showroom. He even sued a rival who he believes is selling recalled cars without disclosing that they have not been fixed yet....

"...the Federal Trade Commission told General Motors and two dealers in December that it was just fine to advertise used vehicles as certified even if their airbags were under recall and had not been fixed. Just disclose it, the agency said (in a complaint that has sent jaws dropping throughout the auto industry). [And among auto safety advocates, who have been actively opposing the FTC's proposed agreements.]

The used-car chain CarMax has taken a similar approach to Ford's. While it too had a recent run in with the F.T.C. over disclosure issues, the company says that it is transparent as possible, from its online listings to its in-person interactions.

But why sell cars with open recalls at all, thus putting the onus on consumers to sort out the repair....

AutoNation [the largest new car dealership chain in the U.S.] took a different approach, at least at first. In 2015, its chief executive, Mike Jackson, told Automotive News that the recall situation was "a dysfunctional nightmare that the industry should be ashamed of." The company pledged to sell no cars with open recalls, period.

By last year, it was costing the company dearly, to the tune of 6 cents per share of its earnings in the third quarter. In November, it gave up and began selling some cars with open recalls (and full disclosures). The lack of Takata airbag replacements, the F.T.C.'s decision and other anticipated regulatory rollbacks proved to be too much.... Worried about a car that you already have? You should be, both about future Takata recalls and others that we don't know about yet. Rosemary Shahan of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety suggests registering your vehicle both with your car's manufacturer and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration so that you get a notice if your airbag or anything else comes up for recall. Run the vehicle identification number through some checks yourself from time to time too, just to make sure you're not missing anything.

You might also hope that more dealers act out in the same way as Earl Stewart of Lake Park, Fla. He refuses to sell used cars with open recalls, but he doesn't want to turn away people who are trading in cars with recalled Takata airbags that they have not been able to get fixed yet. This trade-in policy isn't just good customer service; if he can't take their trade, they might not buy another vehicle from him at the same time that they turn their old one in.

As a result, however, he has 100 or so cars sitting in a lot waiting for repair. And when he sent secret shoppers into competing dealers to see how much disclosure they were doing about recalled cars they were selling, he was outraged at what he found. "Maybe this is unique to South Florida, but they are all extremely devious and proactively trying to sell recalled cars by saying there is no recall," Mr. Stewart said.

So he filed a lawsuit to try to swing others over to his way of doing things. 'I don't want the money - I just want to stop the practice,' he said. 'We're going to keep filing suits until they throw the towel in.'"

Read more: New York Times: "How to Buy a Used Car in an Age of Widespread Recalls"
CarMax, others settle US Actions over Used Car Safety
The Associated Press
Published in the New York Times
December 16, 2016
"A consumer group criticized those agreements as failing to protect car buyers and actually harming consumers. By permitting the companies to disclose that cars may be subject to recalls, the FTC is allowing them to advertise that recalled and unrepaired used cars are safe and have been 'repaired for safety,' Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety said in a statement. The consent orders may lower the standard for the industry in this type of advertising and are weaker than state laws, the group said."

Read more: AP report, published in New York Times: CarMax, others settle US Actions over Used Car Safety
"Trump Appointments: Is a Step Back for Auto Safety Looming?"
Forbes Magazine
December 13, 2016
by Cheryl and Christopher Jensen
"As President-elect Trump pieces together his administration, consumer advocates are wondering who will head up the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – a crucial position when it comes to automotive safety. That position is now held by Mark Rosekind, who got the job in December 2014.

Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
One can make a good argument that Rosekind has been the most aggressive, pro-consumer administrator in years. It's been a startling and happy change for an agency that has had a relationship with the auto industry routinely criticized by consumer advocates as cozy and accommodating.

'He deserves enormous credit for pressuring manufacturers to perform record numbers of safety recalls and to take a more pro-active approach to addressing safety defects,' says Rosemary Shahan, the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety...

Under [former NHTSA Administrator David Strickland], safety advocates said N.H.T.S.A. continued as a captive of the auto industry and Strickland showed little interest in breaking free...

The decision on whether to replace Rosekind is expected to be made by Elaine Chao, who has been selected to head up the Department of Transportation. The N.H.T.S.A. is part of that department."

Note: Elaine Chao is married to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Since 2011, she has been serving on the Board of Directors of Wells Fargo, which has been caught engaging in numerous illegal practices, including creating bogus accounts through fraud and identity theft, overcharging over $203 million in overdraft fees, and illegally repossessing cars from military Servicemembers serving our nation on active duty.

Read more: Trump Appointments - A Step Back for Auto Safety?
"Deadly Airbags are Still on the Road"
KOVR-TV (CBS, Sacramento)
November 18, 2016
By Kurtis Ming
ELK GROVE (CBS13) – The Takata airbag recall is so huge that carmakers can't get all the vehicles on the road fixed right away. And with the reported deaths, Elk Grove couple Judi and Jim Braddy say they don't want to drive their 2013 Volkswagen Golf in the meantime. Judi says her Golf doesn't see much time on the road these days.

'If I drive it at all, it's just to the store and back,' said Judi.

It has been recalled over its Takata airbag, just like 29 million other cars tied to 14 carmakers. The airbag issue is now blamed for 11 deaths and more than a hundred injuries. "They have no idea when the part is going to be available," said Judi. With seven months left on their lease, Judi and Jim just want it fixed or want to trade in their Golf early. 'My biggest fear is that something could happen to my wife or…granddaughter,' said Jim.

We reached out to Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety to get an idea of the size of this recall. 'This is a huge problem for consumers who can't get their cars fixed,' said Shahan. She says with the massive repair backlog, anyone who feels unsafe should demand a loaner car. But what if the car company says refuses? Shahan says, 'I wouldn't take no for an answer.'

But that didn't work for the Braddys; they say Volkswagen refused to provide a loaner car...."

See the full report: KOVR TV: "Deadly Airbags are Still on the Road"

Note: If you have a recalled car with a Takata air bag and the manufacturer refuses to provide a loaner car, consider renting a safe car and seeking reimbursement for the expenses, either by taking the manufacturer to small claims court or obtaining legal counsel. The National Association of Consumer Advocates lists attorneys who specialize in representing consumers in auto warranty and fraud cases. Some attorneys have succeeded in obtaining relief for clients stuck with unsafe recalled cars, who are facing lengthy delays for repairs.
"Local Military Veteran Says Car Dealership Selling Unregistered Cars"
ABC Channel 10, San Diego
November 11, 2016
By Melissa Mecija
"SAN DIEGO - A local military veteran saved his money to buy a used car only to find out it is not his at all.

Michael Bentley served in the Navy and was stationed in San Diego. He told Team 10, 'I lived out here when I was in the military; loved it out here.' Bentley moved back to San Diego for a new job. He knew he needed a car, so he went to Quality Auto Group on Miramar Road to buy one. 'It's a 2010 Nissan Altima. I liked it because it had a nice four-cylinder [engine],' Bentley said.

He had no issues at first, but a few months later, he was pulled over for having an unregistered vehicle. Bentley has been pulled over twice so far and has had to pay a couple hundred dollars' worth of tickets. His temporary tags had expired. Bentley was waiting for his permanent license plates and registration from Quality Auto Group, but they never came. Bentley called the business several times, but he could not get a hold of anyone. He later learned Quality Auto Group went out of business, leaving him with unanswered questions.

'I don't want to be driving an illegal car,' Bentley said.

Bentley later learned the Nissan he bought also had an outstanding lien. His lawyer told Team 10 the dealership did not have clear title and never properly registered the car with the DMV, which is a violation of the vehicle code.

'I pretty much have a $17,000 paperweight,' Bentley told Team 10. Team 10 went to an address listed for the dealership owner, Manouchehr Sorbi. Nobody answered the door and the front room looked empty, except for a dog inside.

Consumer advocate Rosemary Shahan said it is far too easy for small dealerships like Quality Auto Group to disappear and reappear. 'Very often, they just start up under another relative's name so they go in and out of business over and over again,' said Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. Shahan recommends shoppers looking for a used car ask to see the actual title and double check it with the DMV. Bentley plans to file a civil lawsuit. He is sharing his story so others will not have to deal with a similar predicament.

A DMV spokesperson confirmed there were three cases against Quality Auto Group, but did not go into detail. Those cases are now closed, and the DMV could not talk about Bentley's case because it is an open investigation."

Watch the full report: ABC Channel 10 (San Diego): Military Veteran says Car Dealership Selling Unregistered Cars
"Used Cars Slip Past Recall Safeguards,
Putting Drivers in Danger"
New York Times
October 26, 2016
by Rachel Abrams and Hiroko Tabuchi
"Ms. Robles's son, Jose Contreras, 26, bought his mother's car a year ago from Ivan Henderson, a man he met playing pool.

Last month, during a fender-bender, the car's airbag exploded, propelling metal parts that killed Ms. Robles, who worked the 5 a.m. shift as a breakfast attendant at a Hampton Inn.

car rentals at the airport
'She was my best friend,' Mr. Contreras said of his mother, in text messages, from his home in Riverside. 'Her grandkids were her world.'....

Safety advocates say that Mr. Henderson and the sellers before him should never have sold a recalled car without disclosing the defect or getting the airbag replaced at a Honda dealer at no cost to the owner...

Despite the lack of explicit federal laws on recalled used cars, a patchwork of state consumer protections and laws already effectively prohibits the sale of dangerous vehicles, some safety advocates and lawyers say.

"Anytime they conceal a material defect, that's fraud," said Rosemary Shahan, the president of the nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

New York State, for instance, forbids the sale of vehicles "as is." The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs says cars offered for sale must be "roadworthy," and it has gone after dealers it suspected of selling cars that were recalled but not repaired.

Some companies like CarMax, one of the country's largest used-car dealers, advertise that their vehicles pass rigorous safety tests — even if the cars have unrepaired problems for which recalls have been issued. CarMax says it discloses recalls.

Still, Ms. Shahan and others argue, advertising a recalled vehicle as safe is misleading."

Read more: New York Times: "Used Cars Slip Past Recall Safeguards"

Buying at a Used Car Auction?
What You Don't Know Can Kill You
The New York Times
October 26, 2016
by Rachel Abrams and Hiroko Tabuchi
"On Tuesday, two reporters from The New York Times visited a car auction held in Queens by the New York City Department of Finance.

It was a lesson in how consumers can purchase cars that have deadly defects and how sellers have few obligations to disclose those defects to the public....half of the cars had been recalled for various reasons, including faulty ignition switches and Takata airbags, which between them have killed or injured hundreds of people worldwide.

Unlike new cars, used cars have no federal requirement that sellers disclose safety recalls or fix dangerous defects, although some state and local regulations offer consumers some protections.

But enforcing those protections can be tricky, and sometimes happens only after someone has been harmed, requiring lawsuits for wrongful death or negligence.

That is why safety advocates like Rosemary Shahan, the president of the nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, have been pushing for laws that specifically ban the sale of recalled vehicles in which repairs have not been made.

'It's illegal for a dealer to knowingly or negligently sell an unsafe car,' Ms. Shahan said. 'It's a question of, how many layers of enforcement can you add?' "

Read more: NY Times report "Buying at a Used Car Auction?"

"Sacramento workshop brings future of self-driving cars into focus"
The Sacramento Bee
October 9, 2016
By Mark Glover
"Advocates and even critics of self-driving cars agree that they will someday be part of life in California. Just how soon that happens and what form autonomous vehicles take will likely be determined to some extent in Sacramento just a week and a half from now. The California Department of Motor Vehicles' revised draft regulations for autonomous vehicles will be open to public comment at an Oct. 19 workshop...

Rosemary Shahan, president and founder of the Sacramento-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said that would unfairly place liability on the 'driver,' when the onus should fall to the automakers developing the technology. She also said there should be driver training in the event of an autonomous vehicle failure and what to do if the electricity grid goes down."

Read more: Sacramento Bee: DMV workshop on future of self-driving cars

Toyota case tests warranty limits for military families
Automotive News
By Sharon Silke Carty
August 28, 2016
WSB-TV 2 Atlanta: Toyota sues military family, after selling them unsafe lemon RAV4
WSB-TV 2 Atlanta: Toyota sues military family, after selling them unsafe lemon RAV4
"The case, which heads to the Superior Court of Georgia for trial early next year, has prompted a consumer advocacy group to lobby for a law that would force companies to adhere to their warranty promises even when products are taken overseas by members of the military on active duty. Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said she and the Snells have been in talks with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about creating legislation that would guarantee military members on active duty would get warranties honored.

Shahan pushed for a similar law that was passed in 2007 in California that protects military service members under California's lemon laws, even for a vehicle purchased outside California. That's important for military service people, who move every two to three years on average.

Flinn said he hopes there will be political willingness to pass a similar law that covers overseas deployments. He said, 'We need to get something done to make sure the warranties follow servicemen overseas.'"

"Are safety regulators finally going to help victims of geographic recalls?"
Sept. 12, 2016
by Christopher Jensen
Ford expands recall over faulty door latches that can fly open
Ford expands recall over faulty door latches that can fly open
"To the agency's credit this is the second time this year that N.H.T.S.A. has expanded a regional recall. Earlier this year it required the deadly Takata airbag recall to go national, although some consumer advocates say that was a no-brainer.

So, could N.H.T.S.A. suddenly be paying more attention to regional recalls and generally getting tougher on the automakers?

Some consumer advocates think that's possible due to the influence Mark Rosekind, who was appointed late in 2014 by President Obama to take over an agency with a reputation among consumer advocates for being too accommodating to the auto industry at the expense of consumers.

Under Rosekind the agency has been more aggressive and tougher, says Rosemary Shahan, the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

But, she says, N.H.T.S.A. should never have been allowed Ford to recall only 767,000 of those vehicles in the first place.

Read more: "Forbes: Ford expands safety recall"

"Congressman offers unusual defense in ethics probe"
Williams, a car dealer, says he wasn't helping himself,
he was helping a lobbyist for car dealers
Center for Public Integrity
September 13, 2016
By John Dunbar
"U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, a Texas Republican under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, asserts that he did nothing wrong when he offered an amendment that would benefit car dealers — despite the fact that he himself is a car dealer.

Members of Congress, say the rules, may not use their positions for personal financial benefit. But Williams asserted in a statement that he did not profit from his actions.

GOP Rep. Roger Williams, a Texas car dealer, faces House ethics investigation
Instead, Williams revealed, he offered the amendment at the behest of a lobbyist. And the lobbyist — whose employer, the National Automobile Dealers Association, one of the congressman's top donors — was even kind enough to send along 'proposed language' for the text of the amendment.

The case is being considered by the House Ethics Committee. There is no timetable for when the committee will rule. But regardless of what happens, the Austin area congressman's defense offers a rare glimpse at how business is often done in the Capitol.

In this case, at least, it reveals a place where lobbyists have enormous influence; where a legislator was arguably more concerned with his own interests and those of his donors than his constituents; and where actions that appear at first glance to be clear conflicts of interest, are in fact, routine...

Rep. Williams offered an amendment on the floor of the House just before midnight on Nov. 4 that alleviated the dealers' concerns. It would, as understood by Williams and NADA, carve out an exemption for auto dealers. It would, in effect, allow them to rent or loan out vehicles even if they were subject to safety recalls...

'It seems to me that if it isn't illegal, if it isn't an ethics violation it ought to be,' said Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a [non-profit] consumer group. 'His amendment benefits nobody but car dealers. And he's a car dealer.'

In his statement, Williams says that his business does indeed offer rental cars for use by customers who are getting their vehicles fixed as well as loaner cars...Williams, in his defense, said he sometimes loses money under the arrangement and that the passage of the amendment would have "zero bearing" on his business interests.

Shahan said dealers still benefit indirectly.

'They benefit, of course, by profiting from having the repair business,' she said. 'And you can be sure that it's built into the price they charge for the repair.'

Shahan said it was clear that the congressman was not interested in consumers.

'It doesn't get any clearer that he was not acting in the public interest, he was acting in the interest of the NADA members. He doesn't even claim to be acting in the public interest,' she said."

Read more: Congressman Roger Williams faces ongoing ethics probe
CARS Praises Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for
Helping Improve the Economy and Protect Consumers,
Especially Military Servicemembers and their Families
Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and CARS President Rosemary Shahan, a fellow Buckeye
At a roundtable and Field Hearing in Sacramento hosted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CARS President praised CFPB Director Richard Cordray and his team for helping improve America's economy and protect consumers, especially military Servicemembers and their families. At the roundtable, Shahan also provided information about predatory lending practices perpetrated by "Buy Here Pay Here" car dealers, who commonly overcharge vulnerable car buyers who are desperate for wheels to get to work for junky cars that break down soon after purchase. Some don't even make it home from the car lot.

The dealers typically also charge exorbitant interest rates on loans that vastly exceed the value of the cars. When the cars break down, the car buyers lose their only means of transportation to get to work, costing them their jobs. When they default on their loans, the dealers repossess the cars, and then resell them again and again. Each time, they make a high profit.

As reported in an award-winning series by Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Bensinger, some dealers make this predatory practice, known as "churning," a regular business practice. Too often, California's Department of Motor Vehicles fails to protect car buyers from such practices. Even if dealers are closed by the DMV, or declare bankruptcy, they often re-open again, sometimes in the exact same location, under a relative's name, and continue to engage in the same illegal conduct.

What happens when you can't get your car registered?
NBC Bay Area report
"Dealer can't register car. Woman wants refund."
July 19, 2016
by Chris Chmura, Christine Roher, and Joe Rojas
"Dori Hess sums up her situation in a made-for-TV sound bite. 'I bought a car I can't drive,' she said. Mechanically speaking, her new car is perfect. But legally, it's not drivable.

Hess bought a 2011 Acura TSX for about $18,000 in September [over 8 months ago]. 'I paid for it in full,' she said. And yet, the car is still unregistered. What's the hold up? The dealer. Hess says AutoNation Acura of Stevens Creek agreed to title and register the TSX for her. Her paperwork even lists a $29 service fee. But the dealer hasn't titled or registered the car. The expired plate is proof....Hess's Acura is screaming for a ticket.

'The DMV investigator told me I could be pulled over, and the car could be towed,' Hess said. Hess said the dealer didn't offer an explanation; it was stalling....

Rosemary Shahan, the consumer advocate who leads Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, is lobbying the Legislature to give drivers a break when dealers are careless with paperwork. 'You get penalized if they don't do their job,' she said."

NBC Bay Area report: "Dealer can't register car. Woman wants refund."

Unless Governor Brown vetoes a bill (AB 516) that is being backed by toll authorities and the California New Car Dealers Association, more innocent car buyers like Dori will be unfairly penalized when dealers sell them cars they cannot get properly registered, through no fault of their own.

Read more: Can't get your car registered? Stopped by Police? You are not alone.
"Car Dealer-Congressman Subject of Ethics Probe"
"Republican Rep. Roger Williams submitted
amendment that would benefit his business"
Center for Public Integrity
June 28, 2016
By John Dunbar
"The [United States] House [of Representatives] Ethics Committee has revealed it is investigating the conduct of U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, a Weatherford car dealer who authored an amendment that would have exempted his industry from a safety requirement and benefited his own business.

Williams' apparent conflict of interest was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity in November and led to a formal complaint being filed by the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C. legal watchdog.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, a car dealer, adds car dealer loophole to Rental Car Safety Act.
In a brief press release, the House Ethics Committee announced Monday that it had "decided to extend the matter regarding" Williams, which was "transmitted to the committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on May 13, 2016."

The Office of Congressional Ethics is a nonpartisan organization that vets complaints against members. The press release revealed for the first time publicly that the claims of misconduct leveled against Williams were under review by the House Ethics Committee.

The amendment was proposed as part of a broader transportation bill. Offered just before midnight on Nov. 11, 2015, it would have allowed automobile dealers to rent or loan out vehicles even if they were subject to safety recalls. Rental car companies, meanwhile, wouldn't get the same treatment. The measure passed the House of Representatives but after the Center wrote about it, the Williams proposal died in the conference process between the House and the Senate....

A spokesman for the House Ethics Committee declined comment. Punishment for violating House rules can include a formal reprimand, censure or even expulsion. Each action would require a vote of the full House.

Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a group that advocates for vehicle safety, was highly critical of Williams' conduct. Shahan said she hopes the news of the committee's review 'sends a message that lawmakers should be representing the public and not their own personal interests.' "

Read more: Center for Public Integrity report: Car Dealer Congressman Subject of Ethics Probe

News release: issued by U.S. House Ethics Committee
"Takata airbag recalls continue to hit dealerships"
Roanoke Times
June 5, 2016
by Tiffany Holland
car rentals at the airport
"... Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety...said the first thing someone should do before buying a car is check its vehicle identification number, or VIN, and make sure it's not under a recall. Car owners who receive a recall notice should make an appointment to get their vehicle repaired as soon as possible and shouldn't assume that everything's OK just because they've been driving a car for many years without a problem.

'You just don't know,' she said. 'It's risky.'

If there is a wait list to get a car repaired, Shahan suggests asking for a loaner car to use until the parts are available. Some dealerships will provide one at no charge in this situation.

'All recalls you need to take seriously and this is no exception,' she said."

Read more: Roanoke Times: Takata recalls continue to hit dealerships

"America's Safety Recall Crisis:
Consumers Catch Some of the Blame, Too"
NBC News
June 2, 2016
by Paul Eisenstein
"In barely a month, more than 16 million vehicles using dangerously defective Takata airbags have been recalled, 4.4 million on Thursday alone. On top of the 24 million vehicles impacted by an earlier service action involving Takata, it's the biggest recall in automotive history.

But it's just one of the reasons why automotive safety recalls, in general, have hit record numbers two years in a row, with some observers worrying that 2016 could bring yet another all-time high. It's not just that so many dangerous defects are being uncovered that worries safety advocates most, however, but the fact that as many as one in five vehicles on U.S. roads have at least one unrepaired problem covered by a recall....

This week, the Rental Car Safety Act — inspired by the 2004 deaths of sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck — went into effect and now requires rental car companies to pull recalled vehicles out of their fleets until defects are fixed.

Similar efforts targeting car dealers have been stalled on Capitol Hill, however — though the nation's largest new car retail chain, AutoNation, now voluntarily halts sales until vehicles on its lots are repaired....

'The responsibility for the huge numbers of recalled cars lies squarely with the manufacturers and suppliers, who concealed defective, unsafe products,' not consumers, said Rosemary Shahan, an advocate with the California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

And she calls on Congress to provide more funding to NHTSA to crack down on the industry and find problems sooner."

Read more: NBC News: "America's Recall Crisis"

Growing Momentum for Self-Driving Cars Worries Safety Advocates
Fair Warning
June 2, 2016
by Brian Joseph
On Valentine's Day in Silicon Valley, one of Google's experimental, self-driving cars sideswiped a city bus at 2 miles an hour. The incident marked the first time an autonomous car contributed to an accident on a public road, but did nothing to diminish the Obama administration's enthusiasm for driverless vehicles.

Some auto safety advocates fear the government is embracing the technology too quickly without assessing its actual capabilities and practical implications. With billions of dollars at stake and aggressive lobbying by the tech and automotive industries, safety advocates fear that regulators will allow themselves -- and the public -- to be steamrolled in the name of progress and innovation.

But some automotive safety advocates fear government is embracing the technology too quickly without carefully assessing its actual capabilities and practical implications. With billions of dollars at stake and aggressive lobbying by the tech and automotive industries, safety advocates worry that government regulators will allow themselves – and the public – to be steamrolled in the name of progress and innovation.

Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, is concerned that autonomous cars are not ready for the road. (Photo courtesy of Rosemary Shahan)
Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, is concerned that autonomous cars are not ready for the road.
"These cars are not ready for prime time," said Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento, Calif.-based advocacy organization best known for spearheading passage of the state's automobile lemon law.

Autonomous cars, which have been in development since at least 2009, are known to struggle in inclement weather; rain, fog and snow disrupt their sensors. "We should be requiring them to prove that they're really ready" before rushing self-driving cars to consumers, Shahan said.

She's also worried about draft regulations in California that would make occupants responsible for all traffic violations that occur while a driverless car is operating in autonomous mode. Shahan said manufacturers "should be willing to assume the liability."
- See more at: http://www.fairwarning.org/2016/06/self-driving-cars/#sthash.HBf2EN0v.dpuf

New legislation to keep rental car companies
from leasing recalled vehicles
KPIX-TV (CBS, San Francisco)
By Julie Watts
Consumer advocates warn consumers with recalled cars to insist on a rental car, pending repairs to their own cars. It's too risky to accept a random loaner car from a dealer. What if the loaner is also under a safety recall? Dealers with fleets of 35 or fewer cars got themselves exempted from the federal rental car safety act.

Watch the video: KPIX TV, San Francisco
"New law bans rental car companies
from using recalled cars"
The Detroit News
June 1, 2016
By Keith Laing
"Rental car companies are prohibited from distributing vehicles that have been recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under a new federal law that took effect Wednesday.

The new law requires rental companies with fleets of more than 35 vehicles to pull recalled cars from their rotations until they are repaired.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he is happy to enforce the ban now that has Congress has codified the prohibition in federal law.

"When a family picks up a rental car on vacation, they should be able to expect it is free of any known safety defect," Foxx said in a statement. "I thank Congress and the safety advocates who helped turn this common-sense idea into law."

The ban on recalled cars does not apply to used car dealerships, despite a push from safety advocates to also apply the prohibition to them.

'I'm thrilled that the Safe Rental Car Act named for my beautiful, treasured daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, is now the law of the land. But I'm worried about the loaner-car loophole for car dealers and remain committed to closing that dangerous safety gap,' Cally Houck said in a statement distributed on Wednesday by the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety group.

'If this law was in existence when my cherished, beautiful daughter Jewel rented a car, she would still be alive today," added Alexander Brangman, whose 26-year-old daughter Jewel died in a 2014 crash while she was driving a rented 2001 Honda Civic.'"

Read more:
Detroit News: New law bans rental car companies from using recalled cars

"Air bags have saved countless lives,
but they have a deadly track record too"
Los Angeles Times
By James F. Peltz
"The Takata scandal also added to the troubled history of automotive air bags, which became widespread standard equipment in the 1990s and have saved thousands of lives. Many cars now have multiple air bags inside.

'Are air bags worth it? The answer is yes,' said Rosemary Shahan, founder of the advocacy group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. [Note: This was in reference to the overall protection provided by air bags, in reducing fatalities and debilitating injuries including brain injuries, injuries causing paralysis, facial injuries, and blindness, and is not a reflection regarding individual cases when they were defective and caused preventable injuries or deaths.]

But the safety innovation has come with a price. In the 1990s, for instance, more than 200 people — the majority of them children — died in accidents in which an air bag deployed with fatal force....

Shahan argued that the suppliers, automakers and dealers 'need to step up their game, and there's a lot more they could be doing to make it easier to get them fixed.'

Shahan, who said her 2007 Subaru Outback is among the Takata-equipped cars being recalled, suggested dealers provide evening and weekend hours to repair the air bags, or send mechanics to drivers' homes or places of work to fix the recalled cars."

"Takata Discarded Evidence of Airbag Ruptures as Early as 2000"
The New York Times
February 12, 2016
By Hiroko Tabuchi and Danielle Ivory
"JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As the safety crisis surrounding Takata's airbags that are prone to rupture has mushroomed, the Japanese auto supplier has insisted that the propellant in its airbags is safe.

car rentals at the airport
But on Friday, testimony in a Florida court showed that Takata's own engineers discarded evidence that may have shown otherwise as long as 16 years ago. As early as 2000, around the time the propellant, which includes a compound called ammonium nitrate, was introduced into Takata models, failures occurred during internal testing.

But Takata altered its test data to hide the failures from its biggest customer, Honda, and a senior Takata executive ordered some of the evidence be discarded, the testimony said....

Allan Kam, a safety expert who worked for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1975 to 2000, called Takata's supposed disposal of evidence and data manipulation "unbelievable."

......Safety advocates found it disturbing that Takata might have known about potential problems years ago, but not immediately reported them to customers, automakers and safety regulators.

'It's very damning,' said Rosemary Shahan, founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability. 'It's bad enough to have a faulty product, it's even worse to cover it up.'"

Read more: NY Times: Takata Discarded Evidence of Airbag Ruptures

"Google urges DMV to change rules on driverless cars"
January 28, 2016
by Mike Luery
KCRA-TV report
"SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Google may be leading the way on driverless cars, but the company is threatening to pull the cars out of the California market if DMV requires a human operator behind the wheel....

Many consumer groups are skeptical of driverless cars.

'The DMV is wise and smart to require that a driver be behind the wheel, because if you look at what's been happening, there's been thousands of times when the drivers had to take control of the cars to prevent a crash,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety."

Watch full report: KCRA-TV: Google urges DMV to change rules on driverless cars

"Lemon Aid: What you need to know about state lemon laws"
Car and Driver Magazine
January 22, 2016
by Jim Travers
Lemon laws only apply to vehicles still covered by the manufacturer's original warranty, although you may be able to make a claim later as long as you have documentation the problem began before the warranty expired. So hang on to those receipts from every visit to your dealer or mechanic. And get a record of every visit, whether the wrenches come out or not.

car rentals at the airport
"Ask them to write it up even if they can't duplicate the problem," advises Steven Simons, a California consumer attorney specializing in lemon law. "Do it as soon as you pull into that service lane."

The reason for hiring an attorney is simple. Carmakers have a whole lot more legal firepower than you do, and their lawyers have been to this rodeo before.

"People should seek legal advice," says Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. Shahan knows a thing or two about lemon law. She and her non-profit advocacy group initiated California's lemon law, which became a model for other states nationwide.

It's also critical to pick the right attorney. A quick Google search will bring up pages of lemon law attorneys, some of whom have the look of virtual ambulance chasers.

"Go to the website for the National Association for Consumer Advocates," said Shahan. "Those are the guys. The manufacturers know who the good ones are. A lot of the time, that's all it takes."

Read more: Car and Driver, Lemon Aid: "What you need to know about state lemon laws"

"Takata Airbag Flaw Linked to 10th Death;
5 Million More Vehicles Recalled"
New York Times
January 23, 2016
By Hiroko Tabuchi and Danielle Ivory
"Federal safety regulators on Friday said that a man had died in late December when an airbag made by Takata exploded in the vehicle he was driving.

It was the 10th death linked to what has become one of the country's biggest consumer safety problems.

In announcing the death, regulators also significantly expanded the recall of cars containing Takata airbags, adding five million to the 19 million already under recall and extending it to two manufacturers, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, that had not previously been affected....

Rosemary Shahan, the founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said that regulators needed to be more forthcoming with which other cars might be at risk and that automakers needed to be more aggressive in fixing the cars.

'The people who are driving in those cars deserve to know,' Ms. Shahan said....

Four million more cars are being recalled because of results of testing conducted by Takata and Toyota on inflaters retrieved from cars under recall, he said. Last week, the two companies alerted the safety agency that three of the inflaters tested — all from RAV-4 sport utility vehicles — had ruptured. The [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] called for a recall of models that use similar inflaters...

Still, Friday's announcements left Ms. Shahan concerned over what is still to come.

'It looks pretty inevitable that all of these airbags with ammonium nitrate may be recalled,' Ms. Shahan said. 'You don't want to wait until there is a death and then figure it out. That's what we are all trying to prevent.'"

Read more: NY Times: Takata Air Bag Flaw Linked to 10th Death

Injury claim costs on the rise despite safer roads, vehicles
Auto Insurance Center
December 3, 2015
by Autumn Giusti
"There's also the chance that some of these safety features could produce some unwanted, unintended consequences for drivers and injury claims.

Peterson says there could be a false sense of security among drivers when it comes to cars with improved safety features. 'Sometimes when people know a car is safer, they do foolish things,' he says.

And in the future, some of these tech-driven safety features could even be harmful. Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, says that the fact that newer vehicles have more safety features has an upside. But there's also a potential downside that could affect injury rates.

Shahan says there are growing concerns about the perception of safety surrounding self-driving cars. Even though these cars come equipped with more safety features, computers control a lot of those features. 'That can be very scary because you're not controlling the car anymore,' she says. 'You could have a 12-year-old hacker controlling your car. And the industry is being very resistant to attempts to making the software more secure.'

Corum says that frequency of accidents would be an important change in the overall injury claim costs trend, and that it could have a magnifying effect on the use of medical services and costs. 'We're very concerned that we may see an increase in frequency,' Corum says. 'It's a little early to be able to say that conclusively.'"

Read more: Injury claim costs on the rise despite safer roads, vehicles

NEWS for immediate release: December 1, 2015
Contact: Rosemary Shahan, President, CARS, 530-759-9440
Congress Nears Passage of Rental Car Safety Act in Highway Bill
Safety advocates seek to close dangerous loaner car loophole
      After over 5 years of battles, the U.S. Congress is nearing passage of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act in the federal Highway Bill that is expected to be voted upon this week. The Act would prohibit nearly all rental car companies, including many car dealers, from renting, loaning, or selling recalled vehicles until the safety defects have been repaired. Existing federal law prohibits dealers from selling recalled new vehicles, but there is no similar law regarding rentals.

Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed by a recalled rental car
      Passage would be a major new expansion of NHTSA's authority over safety recalls. For the first time, the agency would be able to police used vehicles provided by rental car companies, including car dealers, as rentals or loaners – but thanks to a last-minute loophole added at the behest of auto dealers, the Act would apply only if the company rents or loans a fleet of 35 or more vehicles, on average – excluding many auto dealers.

      "I'm thrilled that we're finally close to passage of the Rental Car Safety Act named for my beautiful, treasured daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline. But I'm worried about the loaner car loophole for car dealers and remain committed to closing that dangerous safety gap," said Cally Houck, Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were ages 24 and 20 when they were killed by a recalled rental car.

      The leading champions for passage of the Act are Senators Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill, Nelson, and Blumenthal, and Representatives Capps, Schakowsky, Butterfield, and Jones. The Senate measure was also co-sponsored by Senators Casey, Feinstein, Gillibrand, and Markey. The Obama Administration has also been strongly supportive of passage.

      Thanks to this provision, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be able to police rental car companies and dealers who have fleets of 35 or more rentals or loaner vehicles, and fine them if they violate the law – preventing tragedies like the crash that killed Raechel and Jackie. Currently, it is a violation of state laws for rental car companies or dealers to engage in such practices, but generally those laws are not enforceable by individual consumers or their survivors unless they have suffered damages, such as property damage, personal injury, or death. NHTSA will be able to act without having to wait for a crash to occur.

      The Senate and House both rejected attempts by the auto manufacturers and car dealers to kill the bill, or to allow rentals and loaners of recalled vehicles with "disclosure," which would merely shift
liability onto the victims of unsafe vehicles. The rental car industry, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Dollar-thrifty, Alamo, National, and the American Car Rental Association, as well as many smaller rental car companies, helped persuade lawmakers to vote for the bill. The lone exception was the owner of Rent-a-Wreck, Jack Fitzgerald, a car dealer, who actively opposed the bill and lobbied against its passage.

      US Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), a car dealer, introduced a special-interest amendment to exempt car dealers from the bill, and to allow them to rent or loan unrepaired recalled vehicles regardless how unsafe they are, or how many people they have maimed or killed, without having to worry about NHTSA enforcement. U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) argued against the dealer loophole on the House Floor, pointing out that the amendment would mean that consumers who take a recalled car to a dealer for repairs could be loaned another recalled car with the exact same defect. Despite polling showing that the public overwhelmingly opposes this loophole, the Williams amendment passed near midnight, with few Representatives left on the House floor to cast votes, by a voice vote, with some voting "No."

Cally Houck has been a tireless advocate for improving rental and loaner car safety
      While Rep. Williams claimed that the loaner loophole would apply only to minor problems that do not affect safety, it would actually apply to ALL safety recalls, including defects such as catching on fire, brake failures, loss of steering, stalling in traffic, wheels that fall off, axles that break, child safety seat anchors that fail, seat belts that break apart in a crash, and air bags that spew shrapnel that blinds people and slices into their necks, causing them to bleed to death.

      Rep. Williams also claimed that no dealer would loan or sell an unsafe vehicle. However, many news reports have exposed cases where dealers have handed customers the keys to vehicles with potentially lethal safety defects, causing crashes and even catching a home on fire. In one tragic crash, four family members were killed by an unsafe Lexus loaner car. In Texas, Carlos Solis was killed by a recalled used car with an exploding Takata air bag when a dealer failed to get the car repaired prior to sale. CarMax, the largest retailer of used cars in the nation, openly admits that it sells large numbers of unsafe recalled vehicles without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.

      According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "All safety recalls resulting from defects present an unreasonable risk to safety and we believe it is inappropriate to suggest that some defects are not risky enough to require repair. For the safety of the motoring public, all recalled vehicles should be fixed promptly."1

      Recently, the Campaign Legal Center urged the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to review Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams' conduct in authoring a special-interest amendment that would benefit his own business, as a car dealer.

      The Act will improve both rental car and used car safety, by reducing the numbers of recalled rental and used cars that re-enter the used car market. However, Congress failed to close the used car safety gap, due to heavy opposition from the National Automobile Dealers Association.

      To its credit, AutoNation has publicly announced that they guarantee a recall-free vehicle, including used cars. They have also announced that they will not penalize consumers who trade in a vehicle with an open recall by dinging them over the price.
1   Official statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, April 4, 2011

Center for Public Integrity and Texas Tribune
Congressman's loophole for dangerous recalled cars raises ethics questions
November 18, 2015
By John Dunbar
WASHINGTON — Buried deep within a massive transportation bill that passed the House of Representatives is a little-noticed provision that won't have much effect on highway projects, but is of great interest to automobile dealers. The provision, an amendment offered just before midnight on Nov. 11, would allow dealers to rent or loan out vehicles even if they are subject to safety recalls. Rental car companies, meanwhile, don't get the same treatment under the proposed law.

In essence, the amendment would allow an auto dealer to loan you a vehicle under active recall while you are getting your own fixed for the same defect.

The man who offered the amendment is no stranger to car dealerships. In fact, that's his business. U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, sponsored the amendment. In introducing it on the floor of the House, he noted, 'I am a second-generation auto dealer. I have been in the industry most of my life. I know it well.' The possibility that his action might be considered a conflict of interest was apparently not on his mind, though it certainly occurred to others.

'It seems to me that if it isn't illegal, if it isn't an ethics violation, it ought to be,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a consumer group. 'His amendment benefits nobody but car dealers. And he's a car dealer.' ....

"It's Legal under Federal Law to Rent Out Recalled Cars, but Maybe Not for Long"
Auto Insurance Center
By Autumn Cafiero Giusti
November 17, 2015
"It's against federal law for new car dealers to sell recalled new cars, but it's not against federal law for dealers and rental car companies to rent or loan out these same potentially dangerous vehicles.

Congress is considering a new law that could change that practice.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act would close the loophole that allows rental car companies to rent or sell recalled vehicles. The Senate passed the legislation in July, and the House passed an amended version of the act in early November. The Senate is expected to vote on the amended legislation before year's end as part of a larger multiyear federal transportation bill.

The act is named for sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed in a fiery crash in 2004 involving a recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise. The crash happened while Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20, were driving home to Santa Cruz, Calif., after visiting their parents and younger brother. Unbeknownst to them, the rented PT Cruiser the sisters were driving had been recalled for a defective steering component about a month earlier. During the drive, the car's steering hose started leaking fluid, which resulted in a fire under the hood that caused the girls to crash head-on with an 18-wheeler. Witnesses said the car was on fire before the crash....

Greg Scott, a lobbyist for the American Car Rental Association, says the group has backed the legislation for the past two years, after working out a compromise with the consumer groups over some of the act's stipulations.

'It's an unusual circumstance to have consumer groups trying to impose regulations on an industry, and then have the industry agree. But that's the way it's been since 2013,' Scott says. 'It's a testament to the car rental industry putting the safety of the customers and consumers first. Nobody should have to wonder when they go and rent a car whether or not there's a safety defect.' "

Read the report: "It's Legal under Federal Law to Rent Out Recalled Cars, but Maybe Not for Long"

Good News: AT LAST!! Congress close to passing federal rental safety recall legislation
Bad News: Car dealer Congressman from Texas adds loophole to allow car dealers to rent or loan recalled ticking-time-bomb cars
First, the good news: Congress is days away from FINALLY passing the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act, to prohibit rental car companies from renting, loaning or selling recalled cars. The Senate passed the Act last month, and the House also passed it recently, as part of the national highway funding bill. That is expected to pass soon and go to President Obama for a signature. One of the best things about the Act -- it will give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to crack down over violators, even if no one is injured or killed -- preventing tragic crashes like the one that killed Raechel and Jackie.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, a car dealer, adds car dealer loophole to Rental Car Safety Act.
BUT -- near midnight on the day the Act passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), a car dealer, got a special-interest loophole added to the bill to allow car dealers to rent or loan recalled ticking-time-bomb cars to consumers. It passed by a voice vote (with no record of who voted for or against it) when very few U.S. Representatives were still on the House Floor. Rep. Williams owns a Fiat-Chrysler dealership in Weatherford, Texas, west of Dallas. He boasted that he's been a dealer for decades. The only other member of the House who spoke in favor of the dangerous loophole is another car dealer, Rep. Kelly (R-Pennsylvania).

If the car dealer loophole stays in the bill, car dealers could rent, sell, or loan defective recalled vehicles to customers who leave their cars for repairs, without violating the new law. Dealers want this loophole so they can evade a crack-down by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to stop them from renting or loaning unsafe cars to the public. Imagine -- if you have a car that is being recalled because the defective Takata air bags may explode and slice through your neck, the dealer could rent or loan you a car with the exact same safety defect.

Who is opposed to the car dealers' lethal car loophole?
  • Carol "Cally" Houck, Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed by an unrepaired recalled rental car
  • Rep. Lois Capps (D-California) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), who spoke against the dealer loophole and for protecting consumers from unsafe rental and loaner cars
  • Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
  • The rental car industry, including all the major rental car companies and the American Car Rental Association (except Rent-a-Wreck)
  • Other non-profit consumer groups and safety organizations
What you can you do to oppose the dealer loophole?
  • Call your members of Congress and urge them to oppose this dangerous loophole. Here's the number to call at the U.S. Capitol, where they can put you in touch with your member of Congress: 202-225-3121. Message: "I think rental and loaner cars should be safe to drive. Please OPPOSE the car dealer loophole in the DRIVE Act."
  • Sign Cally Houck's petition on Change.org, and send a message to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, who is from Michigan and close to auto manufacturers and car dealers. He is expected to play a crucial role in deciding whether the dealers get their dangerous loaner car loophole.
Think rental cars should be safe? Sign Cally Houck's petition on Change.org.
"Driving a Hard Bargain: A Fiat Chrysler discount
will cost you the right to sue"
Los Angeles Times
October 16, 2015
By David Lazarus
"Each of Detroit's Big Three automakers offer a discount on new vehicles for employees, their families and friends.

But only one, Fiat Chrysler, requires that those using the discount give up their constitutional right to a jury trial in return for a few hundred bucks in savings.

'It's like they're doing you a favor and, by the way, they're taking away your right to sue,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento advocacy group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. 'This discount is like the piece of cheese on the trap that kills the mouse.'

'The purpose of this discount isn't to trick people into not being able to litigate against us,' said Rick Deneau, a Fiat Chrysler spokesman. 'We weren't trying to figure out some diabolical way for people not to sue us.'

Such clauses in consumer contracts aren't new. If you have a cellphone, a cable line or a credit card, you've almost certainly agreed to waive your right to sue or join a class-action lawsuit as a condition of service.

But until now, experts say, no major car manufacturer has sought to encourage customers to forgo their right to sue.

'This takes everything to a whole new level,' said Hal Rosner, one of California's top lawyers specializing in auto-fraud cases....

Many large businesses prefer arbitration because settlements are limited and because professional arbitrators often favor the corporate side. Arbitrators' fees are typically paid by the company in a dispute.

A 2007 report by Public Citizen found that over a four-year period, arbitrators ruled in favor of banks and credit card companies 94% of the time in disputes with California consumers.

Read more: LA Times: A Fiat Chrysler discount will cost you the right to sue
Advice for owners of emissions-spewing VWs and Audis
San Francisco Chronicle
October 5, 2015
By Kathleen Pender
"Breese Berkowitz of Walnut Creek bought a new 2015 Passat TDI on Sept. 12 to replace an aging Toyota Prius hybrid. Her family's other car is a plug-in Prius, and she wanted something environmentally friendly but not another plug-in because she needed a longer range. Volkswagen had been advertising its "clean diesel" technology and Berkowitz thought the Passat - the "Eco-friendly Car of the Year," according to Cars.com - offered great gas mileage without sacrificing performance.

On Sept. 18, she and everyone learned it was a fraud, that Volkswagen had installed so-called defeat devices on 11 million Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars worldwide, including about 482,000 in the United States. On the road, the cars were producing up to 40 times the nitrogen oxide pollutants allowed in the United States. But the devices allowed them to pass emissions tests....

Elizabeth Cabraser, a San Francisco attorney who has filed lawsuits against Volkswagen on behalf of consumers, said owners and lessors of tainted Volkswagen and Audi models should have the choice of "turning the car back in and getting full value or keeping the car, getting the fix and getting compensation" to make up for reduced mileage and/or performance....

Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, had this advice for people with the tainted cars: 'Drive as little as possible for your own and the environment's sake. Don't breathe in the fumes and get some legal advice.'"

Read more: SF Chronicle: Advice for owners of emissions-spewing VWs and Audis

"AutoNation Halts Sales of Recalled Vehicles"
USA Today and Detroit Free Press
September 8, 2015
By Greg Gardner and Chris Woodyard
"AutoNation, the country's largest auto retailer, said Tuesday it will no longer sell any new or used vehicles under recall that have not been repaired.

'There's no way to expect that customers would or should know of every safety recall on every vehicle they might purchase, so we will ensure that our vehicles have all recalls completed,' said Mike Jackson, CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based retailer. 'We make it our responsibility as a retailer to identify those vehicles and remove them from the market until their safety issues have been addressed.'

The move was hailed by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who co-authored a bill to prevent used-car dealers from selling cars under recall, who said in a statement it is a 'significant, common-sense step to ensure its customers are not purchasing cars that put themselves, their families, and all others who share the roads at risk from potentially lethal safety defects.'

Calling it 'a historic commitment to safety,' the president of one auto consumer protection advocacy organization, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, lauded Jackson's move.

'This is a huge breakthrough, particularly since AutoNation's CEO is speaking publicly about the responsibility of dealers to be part of the safety recall solution and to ensure that unsafe, recalled used cars are not only not sold to consumers, but also not sold at wholesale, until they are safe,' said Rosemary Shahan."

Read more: USA Today report: AutoNation Halts Sales of Recalled Vehicles

"Senate Panel Drops Plan to Allow Rentals of Recalled Vehicles"
Bloomberg News
by Jeff Plungis
June 15, 2015
"A Senate panel killed a proposal to permit companies to continue renting vehicles that have been recalled, a measure criticized by consumer groups, automakers and even some rental-car companies.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) plays major role in promoting rental car safety
The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee instead voted Wednesday to require cars be repaired before they're rented.

The change resulted from an amendment by Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. It modified a bill, introduced last week by Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, that would have allowed rentals with known safety defects as long as companies disclosed the open recalls to customers.

'When consumers and families drive a rental car off the lot, they should be able to do so with the confidence that car is safe to drive, and we're one step closer to that peace of mind today,' McCaskill said....

In the past week, Honda Motor Co. joined General Motors Co. as the second automaker to back the Democrats' push for a ban on rentals with safety defects.

The American Car Rental Association, a trade group that includes Hertz Global Holdings Inc., Avis Budget Group Inc. and Enterprise Holdings, described the original Republican bill as a 'significant step back in consumer protection' compared with current industry practices in a July 13 letter to committee leaders."

Read more: Bloomberg: Senate Panel Drops Plan to Allow Rentals of Recalled Vehicles

"Advocates slam GOP auto safety approach"
The Detroit News
July 10, 2015
by David Shepardson
car rentals at the airport
Auto manufacturers and car dealers push for rental car safety loopholes, while rental car companies work to close them.
"Advocates also note that the Thune bill would not bar the practice of dealers selling unrepaired recalled used cars or rental cars lending unrepaired vehicles — but would only require notification. Rosemary Shahan, president of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said that would put families and business travelers in a difficult spot: forgo a rental or take a vehicle that could be unsafe.

"Every year millions of consumers are renting cars with the expectation that they will not be given a vehicle that has a deadly safety defect and has not yet been repaired. It is critically important for rental car companies to get recalled vehicles fixed before they offer them to the unsuspecting public," said Jack Gillis, director of Public Affairs for the Consumer Federation of America.

Read more: Detroit News: "Advocates slam GOP auto safety approach"

"Consumer groups seek probe into CarMax sales
of unrepaired recalled cars"
The Los Angeles Times
June 10, 2015
By Jerry Hirsch
"Two consumer groups have asked California's attorney general and the Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate the sales practices of used car giant CarMax.

CarMax sells unsafe recalled vehicles
The California Public Interest Research Group and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation said the auto retailer regularly sells used vehicles that have been recalled but not repaired -- despite advertising that its autos undergo rigorous 'quality' inspections....

Researchers visited two of CarMax's 18 stores in California, one in Oxnard and the other in Sacramento, and cross-checked vehicle identification numbers with a federal database that tracks whether a vehicle has been recalled and if it has been repaired.

They found that more than 10% of the 455 cars at the Oxnard CarMax had unrepaired recalls. Seven were subject to two or more recalls. In Sacramento, 9% of the 386 vehicles had unrepaired recalls.

CarMax sells unsafe recalled vehicles
The more than a dozen safety defects included: springs that can break and puncture the fuel tank, causing a fire; doors that can unlatch without warning and slide open in traffic; bolts that might break, causing an engine stall in traffic; and air bags that may fail to inflate in a crash...

The consumer groups, however, claim CarMax's sales system might have potential violations of California regulations, including 'bait and switch' infractions, where a consumer is lured to the dealer with the promise of a car that is safe and reliable and then is switched to a defective, unsafe vehicle.

Other infractions might include false and misleading advertising and violations of vehicle code provisions that prohibit sales of vehicles that fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, they said in their report."

Read more: "LA Times: CA groups say CarMax sells unsafe cars"

"California groups say CarMax sells unsafe used vehicles"
The Sacramento Bee
June 10, 2015
by Mark Glover
"Two Sacramento advocacy groups released a report on Wednesday citing what they called CarMax's dangerous practices and called on state officials to investigate the auto seller's in-state operations. Specifically, the groups targeted CarMax's 'sales of unrepaired, defective vehicles that are subject to federal safety recalls.'

CALPIRG and CARS called on Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate CarMax practices regarding 'advertising and sales of unrepaired recalled cars, and take all appropriate action.' 'CarMax is playing recalled car roulette with its customers' lives and endangering the safety of others who share the roads,' said Rosemary Shahan, CARS president....

Citing information that CALPIRG obtained from the CarMax store on Stockton Boulevard, the report released Wednesday said 'approximately 9 percent of all cars recently offered for sale at that location had an unrepaired federal safety recall.' The report said 34 of 386 vehicles for sale at a local CarMax on May 26-27 were subject to safety recalls. The report listed defects including engines that could stall, possible air bag failure, worn parts, key systems failures and bad electrical connections.

At the CarMax store in Oxnard, 46 of 455 vehicles for sale on May 20-21 were subject to federal safety recalls, according to the report."

Read more: "Sacramento Bee: CA groups say CarMax sells unsafe used vehicles"

"CA Assembly member pulls auto recall bill
as opposition mounts"
Los Angeles Times
June 12, 2015
By Jerry Hirsch
"A measure pushed by auto dealers that would have created rules for how they sell recalled used vehicles was pulled by its author suddenly Friday even though it sailed through the Assembly on a 76-0 vote earlier this month. Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-San Mateo) said he notified the state Senate that he plans to hold AB 287, titled the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety Act, until next year to see if he can establish a consensus among dealers and a growing opposition.

Nearly every automaker, most rental car companies and multiple consumer groups opposed the bill.

"Automakers are pleased and pledge to work with the author during the interim to advance efforts to ensure every recalled vehicle gets fixed," said Daniel Gage, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and other automakers...

[The car dealers' bill] would have given dealers legal protection if they knowingly sold an unrepaired vehicle that was in a mishap caused by the defect, said Brian Chase, president of Consumer Attorneys of California....

'The whole concept of allowing dealers to sell recalled cars is bad news for consumers,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. 'No one else in the industry thought this was a good idea.' "

Read more: Los Angeles Times: CA Assembly member pulls auto recall bill as opposition mounts
"Our auto recall system is broken.
Here's how not to fix it"
American Prospect
May 27, 2015
"Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), does not believe the state-level bills will help keep the most dangerous recalled cars off the road. California's disclosure bill, for instance, would only bar dealers from selling recalled vehicles when manufacturers issue 'Do Not Drive' warnings or when a recalled used car is the same make as the new car dealer's franchise....

According to Auto Alliance data submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2000 and 2013, auto manufacturers issued 'Do Not Drive' warnings for a mere 1 percent of all safety recalls, and those were not even for the most unsafe defects. The Chrysler PT Cruiser that killed the Houck sisters, for instance, had not been issued a 'Do Not Drive' warning....

Bernard Brown, a founding member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a consumer attorney organization that opposes New Jersey and California's bills, feels it is misleading to argue that these disclosure bills are better than the status quo. 'The reason for these bills is to effectively make it legal to sell recalled cars,' Brown said. While there may not be a specific statute around the sale of recalled used vehicles, Brown continued, there is anti-fraud, misrepresentation, negligence, or other laws in every state that consumers can sue under if a dealer knowingly sells a car with an undisclosed and unperformed safety recall defect that causes injury or death. 'These [disclosure] bills would greatly undermine existing protections. On its face it may seem like they're better, but they're not,' said Brown. 'They're decidedly worse.'

'These laws are effectively 'Get Out of Jail Free' cards for dealers,' concurred Taras Rudnitsky, a former car safety engineer who now works as a lawyer for victims of vehicle defects."

Read more: American Prospect: "Our safety recall system is broken. Here's how not to fix it."
Capps introduces rental car bill named after
Ojai sisters killed in crash
Ventura County Star
May 11, 2015
By Cindy Von Quednow
"Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, has introduced a bipartisan bill that would prohibit rental car companies from renting or selling recalled vehicles to consumers before they are fixed.

California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein support a Senate version of the bill introduced last year, also called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act.

The legislation is named after two Ojai sisters killed in a crash while in a recalled rental car.

The women's mother, Cally Houck, has been working with Sacramento-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety since a civil jury ruled in her favor in June 2010. She is advocating for state and federal legislation to stop the practice...

An opposition bill in the California Assembly would allow car dealers to sell about 99 percent of recalled used cars to consumers without having to get them repaired first. Shahan called the opposition bill 'scary.' "

Read more: Ventura County Star: Capps introduces rental car safety bill named after Ojai sisters killed in crash
A record 64 million cars were recalled last year
Orange County Register
May 11, 2015
by Susan Carpenter
"Consumer advocates say AB287 limits dealer responsibility by preventing the sale of recalled cars for which the manufacturer issued a do-not-sell or do-not-drive notice.

Honda, for example, has not made a do-not-drive recommendation 'as part of an automotive recall in recent history,' according to company spokesman Chris Martin. Last year, the company recalled 8.1 million defective air bag inflators, and defective air bag inflators in several cars from Honda and other automakers have been blamed for six deaths.

'There's no federal definition of do-not-drive,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of the consumer advocacy group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety in Sacramento, which opposes AB287 and supports the national RECALL Act and Houck bills."

Read more: Orange County Register: A record 64 million cars were recalled last year
Four Senators Reintroduce Rental Car Recall Bill
Detroit News
May 1, 2015
By David Shepardson
"Washington — Four U.S. senators on Friday reintroduced legislation that would bar rental car companies from leasing unrepaired recalled vehicles — the third straight year they have proposed the plan.

Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would require rental companies to follow the same rules that currently apply to new car dealers, who can't sell a unrepaired recalled vehicle. The bill is backed by the Obama administration and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Reps. Lois Capps, D-Calif., Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., also introduced an identical bill in the House....

'The American public is overwhelmingly in favor of ensuring that rental cars are safe and free from lethal safety defects,' said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. 'About 95 percent of the rental car industry is also in favor. This is a common-sense bill that should be passing unanimously. The president is eager to sign it. It's time for Congress to get off the dime.'

The legislation is named after two sisters from Santa Cruz, Calif., Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed in 2004 when a recalled PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise caught fire and hit a truck.

'It's been over ten years since my beautiful, treasured daughters Raechel and Jacqueline were killed by an unsafe, recalled rental car," said Carol "Cally" Houck. "It's time for Congress to act, to protect all families from suffering our devastating loss.' "

Read more: Detroit News: Four Senators Reintroduce Rental Car Recall Bill
Senate Bill Would Bar Rental of Vehicles
with Unrepaired Recall Problems

Measure has support of major rental car firms -- but dealers oppose it
TheDetroitBureau.com, the Voice of the Automotive World
May 1, 2015
By Paul Eisenstein
"A new bill facing the Senate would ban car rental companies from offering vehicles to consumers until outstanding recall problems are repaired.

Dubbed the Rachel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015, the measure is named after two sisters killed in the 2004 crash of a Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented which had a serious defect that hadn't been fixed.

Congress 'needs to take this seriously,' said Rosemary Shahan, the president of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. The problem is all the more serious, she said, with auto recalls hitting record numbers last year, more than 60 million vehicles, in all. According to data tracking service CarFax, as much as a third of all vehicles facing recall typically go unrepaired, a problem that can lead to crashes, injuries and fatalities, sometimes years after the defect was first identified.

Read more: TheDetroitBureau.com: Senate Bill Would Bar Rental of Vehicles with Unrepaired Recall Problems
Car Dealers Fight Back Over Safety Recalls
KPIX-TV (CBS, San Francisco)
By Julie Watts
April 13, 2015
"Dealers are fighting back against consumer pressure to disclose and fix all recalls on cars they want to sell."

KPIX-TV: Car Dealers Fight Back Over Safety Recalls
Consumer groups fight back against car dealer bill
KOVR-TV (CBS, Sacramento)
By Kurtis Ming
"Consumer advocate Rosemary Shahan has spent years trying to get laws passed forcing dealers to make the repairs..."

Watch: Car dealer spokesperson admits the car dealers' special-interest bill would allow dealers to sell used cars with lethal safety defects, like air bags that explode with excessive force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers, causing blindness or causing them to bleed to death.
KOVR-TV Call Kurtis report: Consumer groups fight against car dealer safety recall bill

What Small Car Owners Need to Know about Insurance
US News and World Report
By Steve Nicastro and Alice Holbrook
April 6, 2015
"Specific vehicle safety features also make a difference. Rosemary Shahan, president and founder of the nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, suggests shoppers look for electronic stability control. This is now standard on many models, but older, used cars may not have it. And 'the more air bags the better,' she says. 'You can never have too many air bags.' "

Read more: US News and World Report: What Small Car Owners Need to Know
Toyota to offer safety features for less
The Los Angeles Times
by Jerry Hirsch
March 31, 2015
"Toyota Motor Corp. plans to bundle several advanced auto safety features that reduce the frequency of crashes into a low-cost option for its Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The features alert drivers to a pending collision and trigger the brakes, switch on high beams when there is no oncoming traffic, and warn drivers who drift from their lanes. An upgrade package alerts drivers to potential collisions with pedestrians and also brakes automatically.

The move was lauded by safety experts who eventually want to see the technology become standard equipment on all vehicles... 'Anything that makes safety more affordable is a good thing, especially when they are proven safety systems,' said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety."

Read more: LA Times: Toyota to offer safety features for less
New Jersey Lawmaker Defends Bill Backed by
Auto Dealers, Opposed by Consumer Groups

"NJ Lawmaker defends bill regulating sale of recalled vehicles"
The Record
March 4, 2015
by Richard Newman
"In the face of criticism from consumer groups, a state Assemblyman on Wednesday staunchly defended legislation that would require used car dealers to disclose to buyers if a used vehicle has an outstanding safety recall in effect, but would not require that the vehicles be repaired before they are sold....

'I think they are completely wrong," said Paul D. Moriarty, D-Gloucester, a primary sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, which approved the measure in January, 68-0. "I understand these legal nuanced views, but I am more interested in consumers in general,' he said....

The leader of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety told The Record this week that the bill would undermine existing consumer rights in New Jersey and shield used car dealers from liability if someone is hurt or killed because of an unfixed safety issue in a recalled car that they sold.

Moriarty said he had originally sought to prohibit retail sales of used cars with open recalls, but changed his mind after learning that used car dealers could unfairly lose a lot of business and perhaps face ruin as a result of a large, unexpected recall by a vehicle manufacturer....

Rosemary Shahan, president of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, has argued that state consumer laws already prohibit selling unsafe products, and warns that the proposed legislation may inoculate used car dealers from liability under those laws.

'The bills would allow the manufacturers of the defective, unsafe products and unscrupulous auto dealers to shift liability for deaths and injuries caused by their unsafe, defective products onto their victims - including high-risk vulnerable teenagers buying their first cars' she said last month in a letter to Moriarty and Cruz-Perez....

The four-page letter, co-signed by Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates in Washington, D.C. outlined the groups' objections to the bill and urged the lawmakers to consider their concerns."

Read more: The Record: New Jersey lawmaker defends bill
Used car buyers have friends in the White House in auto safety battle
America's used car buyers and our roads will be a lot safer if the Obama Administration wins the battle against shady car dealers who sell unsafe, recalled cars to used car buyers. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Dr. Mark Rosekind, are urging Congress to make it illegal for car dealers to sell unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers.

Participating in the press conference: (from left to right): Dwight Jones, Mayor of Richmond, VA; Rich Broome, Hertz Corp; Rosemary Shahan, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety; Sharon Faulkner, American Car Rental Association; Bob Muhs, Avis Budget Group; Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and Gordon Reel, Enterprise Holdings.
They joined the President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety at a press conference in Richmond, VA, along with representatives of Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis, and the American Car Rental Association, who have been working together with CARS to enact federal rental car safety legislation. Auto manufacturers (except GM) and car dealers are blocking the rental car safety bill, and lobbying Congress to weaken protections for America's car buyers.

It is historic for a President and his safety team to call for people who rent cars, or purchase used cars, to have the same level of protection as new car buyers. Under federal law, it is illegal for car dealers to sell recalled cars with lethal safety defects to NEW car buyers. That has been the law since the 1960's. But there is no similar federal law to protect people who rent cars or purchase used cars.

"What we need now is for Congress to step up, and to make renting or selling a recalled vehicle [to a consumer] illegal," said Secretary Foxx.

Read more: www.dot.gov//fastlane/dot-proposes-recall-protections-for-rental-car-customers
U.S. Agency Sets Fines for Maker of Airbags
The New York Times
By Hiroko Tabuchi and Danielle Ivory
February 20, 2015
"Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the Takata penalty on Friday in Richmond, Va., while promoting stronger auto safety rules.

At the same event, Mr. Foxx also called on Congress to pass legislation that would force rental car companies and used-car dealers to fix safety defects before renting or selling vehicles that had been recalled.

Though new cars under recall must be repaired before a sale, the United States does not have a federal law requiring the repair of used vehicles, including rental cars. What's more, used-car dealers and rental car companies do not have to disclose that a vehicle is the subject of a recall.

'It's really historic for them to come out so strongly to close those auto safety loopholes for rental cars and used cars,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, who also attended the Richmond news conference and supports the legislation. 'That would be a major expansion of N.H.T.S.A.'s authority.' "

Read more: NY Times: NHTSA fines Takata over defective air bags
"Total recall: Millions of car owners
waiting for safety defect repairs"
KSHB-TV Kansas City, Kansas and ABC Channel 5 Cleveland, Ohio
February 9, 2015
By Melissa Yeage
"Millions of car owners have received recall notices telling them they need a repair completed on their vehicle. Still, months after receiving a letter from the manufacturer in the mail, many are still waiting to hear how and when their car will be repaired....

Millions of car buyers waiting for safety recall repairs
Rachel Jefferson had just exited off of I-70 in Kansas City, Kansas when she says her car completely locked up. The power steering went out. The tires froze. The car turned off.

"It was kind of scary because I was going at a pretty fast speed," Jefferson said...

[Fiat Chrysler] first reported the problem to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration in 2010. The manufacturer issued a recall for select models in 2011 and expanded the recall in 2014.

Like dozens of other angry drivers, Rachel filed a complaint with NHTSA about the delay. The 41 Action News Investigators went through NHTSA's database and found complaint after complaint where drivers reported experienced stalling and couldn't get the vehicle repaired....

Rosemary Shahan founded the consumer watchdog group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety or CARS. She believes Jefferson and other consumers waiting for parts have a right to be concerned.

"When she gets a safety recall notice, that's the manufacturer the government telling her that her car is unsafe," Shahan said.

Federal law requires that manufacturers have safety recall repairs done promptly. However, Shahan said in reality that doesn't always happen.

Part of the reason, she says, is in the past manufacturers used to stockpile repair parts before sending out notices.

"Now what is happening is people hearing about it on the news or getting a safety recall notice in advance of when the repair parts are available. So there is a time lag and people are right to be concerned about driving these cars," Shahan said.

KSHB-TV and News 5 Cleveland: Millions of car owners waiting for safety recall repairs
"Fatal Houston Fender-Bender Shows
Shortcomings of Recalls"
The Washington Post / Bloomberg News
February 2, 2015
by Jeff Plungis, Jeff Greene, and Harry R. Webber
A police report photo of the deployed airbags.
"The death of [Carlos Solis], the 35-year-old father of two teenagers [in a recalled 2002 Honda Accord with a faulty air bag] highlights what critics say is the ineffectiveness of a system in the U.S. where, on average, a third of repairs still aren't complete within 18 months of a manufacturer issuing a recall. As cars changed hands and automakers lose track, motorists often don't know they are driving a car with a deadly defect.

An estimated 46 million cars with unfixed recalls were on the road at the end of last year and as many as 5 million of those, like Solis's, changed ownership in 2014, according to Carfax Inc., which tracks vehicle sales and accident history....

In fact, dealers aren't required by law to get recall repairs done before selling a used car -- though they should be, said Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento, California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. People wrongly assume the cars they buy are up to date on recalls when buying from a dealer.... Solis's death stemmed from a "relatively minor collision resulting in minimal damage to both vehicles," according to a lawsuit his family filed Jan. 27 in Harris County, Texas, against Honda, Takata and All Stars.

The front air bag in the Accord deployed and the inflator exploded, sending bits of metal into Solis's neck, according to the lawsuit.

He died at the scene. Solis left two children, a 14-year- old boy and a 13-year-old girl.

'Used car dealers have a responsibility to make sure they are selling safe vehicles, which includes identifying open recalls and working to get them repaired,' said Steve Jordan, chief executive officer of the National Independent Automobile Dealers in Arlington, Texas....

AutoNation voluntarily stopped selling used vehicles with unrepaired recalls at the end of June last year and the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company holds the models until they are fixed...

Even while there's no regulatory requirement for dealerships to conduct repairs on recalled vehicles or parts, it doesn't get them off the hook for lawsuits over injuries or deaths, said Robert Ammons, the Solis family attorney. 'They have a common law duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety of consumers,' Ammons said in an interview. 'There aren't regulations on everything.' "

Read more: Washington Post / Bloomberg News: "Fatal Houston Fender Bender Shows Shortcomings of Recalls"
CarMax sells unsafe recalled car to young woman as her first car
KSHB-TV Kansas City
February 1, 2015
By Melissa Yeager
 NHTSA's VIN lookup tool at safercar.gov
GEORGIA - While searching for her first car, a 2014 Chevy Cruz advertised on CarMax's website stole Chantelle Tobe's heart....

After purchasing the car, she happily drove it around town and even took it on a road trip. Then, a month after she bought the car, her OnStar system kept alerting her there was a problem with the vehicle. It advised her to take it in to a Chevy dealer.

Join our campaign on Facebook!
After inspecting the car, the Chevy dealership notified Tobe that she had been driving with a fractured right axle the entire time she owned the car. The broken axle was under a recall, one Chevy had issued before Tobe bought the car.

"It was a 2014. I assumed everything was fine because CarMax said they did an inspection," Tobe said. Tobe said she was frightened thinking about what could have happened and angry that CarMax sold her a car with an outstanding recall."

Watch video: KSHB-TV Report: Database helps consumer look up safety recalls
Take Action
"California Considering Safety Of Driverless Cars"
Capitol Public Radio
January 28, 2015
by Katie Orr
"Driverless cars are coming to California. But before they get here the state must make sure they're safe. Among the many concerns is who will certify the safety of driverless cars before they hit the road. Car manufacturers argue they should be allowed to do that...

Cute -- but is it safe enough for CA's highways?
Bryan Salesky is with Google, which is already testing its driverless cars in California..."These are very complex systems," he says. "The DMV is not in the best position to evaluate the safety of any one of the products..."

But others say manufacturers have not adequately addressed safety under the current system of self-certification. Rosemary Shahan is president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. She points to recent recalls involving General Motors and Honda.

"Our current safety recall system is broken," she says. "There are serious problems with our safety recall system and we need to take that into account as a state to protect our citizens."

Shahan says California should move slowly and limit the number of driverless cars it allows on the road in the beginning."

Listen to the full report: "CA Considering Safety of Driverless Cars"
"Honda Fined Record $70 Million in Safety Investigation"
Los Angeles Times
January 8, 2015
by Jerry Hirsch
"Federal Safety regulators fined Honda Motor Co. $70 million – the maximum allowed – for failing to report deaths and injuries involving its vehicles in a timely matter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fine, which has two components, is the largest ever levied on an automaker by the safety agency. Honda must pay $35 million for the unreported death and injury claims and an equal amount for failing to report warranty and service claims that might point to defects.

NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind continues to seek authority from Congress to fine auto manufacturers who violate safety laws up to $300 million.
"We cannot tolerate an automaker failing to report to us any safety issues," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday. "If we don't know about these problems, we are missing a crucial piece in the recall process."

Late last year, Honda acknowledged failing to tell the NHTSA about 1,729 incidents involving injuries or deaths in its automobiles. The data should have been submitted as so-called early warning reports. Safety regulators use such reports to ferret out dangerous defects....

Transportation Department officials have asked Congress to raise the NHTSA fine limit to $300 million. "We need to increase that cap and only Congress has the ability to do that," said [the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Dr. Mark] Rosekind. Raising the limit tells the "industry to obey the law or pay a steep price."

Others agreed. 'Congress has held numerous hearings, and keeps blasting the agency, but has failed to give the administration the authority it needs to levy fines sufficient to motivate companies like Honda to comply with the law,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. 'Congress has been negligent, and should have passed legislation by now.' "
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
forced arbitration
to get away with cheating customers
Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
See the billboard CARS displayed
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