Three franchised new car dealers in CA sold a 2004 PT Cruiser with the same safety recall defect that caused this tragic crash, that claimed the lives of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20. None of them fixed the safety defect. The 3rd dealer sold it to a teenager as his first car.

Monday, December 12, 2022
NEWS: For Immediate Release

Rosemary Shahan, President, CARS, 530-759-9440
Bernard Brown, auto fraud expert attorney, 816-283-3100
Michael Brooks, Exec. Dir. Center for Auto Safety, 202-328-7700
Sean Kane, President, The Safety Institute, 508-951-1726
Consumer, Safety Groups Blast State Attorney Generals’ Settlement with CarMax
Over Deceptive Sales of Hazardous Vehicles with Unrepaired Safety Recalls
          Today, leading non-profit consumer protection organizations that focus on auto safety slammed the recent settlement between the nation’s largest automotive used car retailer, CarMax, and the attorneys general of 36 states.

          The attorneys general alleged that CarMax told car buyers that some of the dangerous vehicles it offered for sale with unrepaired safety recall defects were "safe." Clearly, cars that are being recalled by the manufacturer due to federally mandated safety recalls are unsafe, and pose a risk to car buyers and their families, friends, and others who share the roads.

          Last year, CarMax sold over 900,000 used vehicles and raked in revenue exceeding $33 billion, profiting handsomely by selling hazardous, defective recalled vehicles at top retail prices. But instead of penalizing CarMax for engaging in deception regarding the safety of vehicles they offer for sale, the state attorneys general agreed to a paltry, pathetic $1 million fine, to be divided among all 36 states, with none of the funds going to harmed individuals.

          In comparison, the relatively small District Attorney’s office in Wichita, Kansas, has settled similar cases with recalcitrant car dealers on far better terms for victims and public safety, including obtaining compensation for victims and permanently banning alleged perpetrators and their dealership from conducting business in Kansas.

          Worst of all, the Attorney Generals’ settlement allows CarMax to continue advertising that all its vehicles must pass a supposedly thorough and rigorous "125-point inspection," while failing to get the repairs done to remedy deadly safety recall defects such as faulty brakes, loss of steering, catching on fire, wheels that fall off, hoods that fly open in traffic, seat belts that fail in a crash, sticking accelerator pedals, and exploding Takata airbags that have killed or maimed hundreds of people, as long as they don’t use the words "safe" or "repaired for
safety." Often parts to fix the potentially deadly defects are not available for months, and meanwhile, hapless car buyers are stuck with a hazardous car they paid top dollar to buy.

          "Instead of improving the safety of vehicles CarMax offers for sale, this settlement makes it easier for them to continue to sell hazardous vehicles with dangerous, and potentially deadly, unrepaired safety recalls," said Michael Brooks, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety and a leading auto safety advocate.

          "Tragically, this settlement will be used against consumers who trust CarMax to actually inspect and 'recondition' cars they offer for sale to ensure that they are safe," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS). CARS has been in the forefront in working to get CarMax and other auto dealers to stop selling hazardous unrepaired recalled used vehicles, and to preserve existing state consumer protection laws against such practices. "Those at risk include anyone who doesn’t read all the fine print and understand auto jargon, young people buying their first cars, recent immigrants unfamiliar with the U.S. safety recall system, people who may not be proficient in legalistic written English, and people who want to emulate sports superstars featured in ads for CarMax, like Steph Curry and Sue Bird."

          "No one should have to worry that a duly licensed car dealer is deliberately selling them a vehicle they know is unsafe. Unfortunately, this terrible settlement allows that to keep happening. CarMax should be getting hazardous safety defects repaired before selling vehicles to consumers, rather than shifting the burden and risking their customers’ lives," said Sean Kane, President of The Safety Institute and a leading auto safety expert.

          The groups have reason to be concerned, particularly in light of CarMax’s long history of deception and the shocking and misleading statements CarMax’s Board President, Tom Folliard, made to an audience at Florida Tech that included many college students, downplaying the risks posed by safety recall defects. Folliard said that "Many of them are not really safety issues, they’re just open recalls. But because of all the consumer movement around it, they’re all considered safety recalls."

          In reality, all too often, safety recall defects are deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "All recalls are serious." Sometimes the victims of auto safety recall defects are not the purchasers, but their friends or family members.

          Auto fraud expert Bernard Brown, a nationally renowned attorney who has won major victories in court against car dealers who sold hazardous vehicles, said: "This horrible settlement is harmful for used car buyers and their families. It allows CarMax and other dealers to deliberately and deceptively sell hazardous vehicles that they know have unrepaired safety recall defects with misleading disclosures that they may have an unrepaired safety recall. It grossly undermines many existing protections in state laws against deceptive and fraudulent sales of unsafe vehicles and other products. Because of this settlement, CarMax and other unscrupulous car dealerships will find it easier to evade liability under important state consumer protection laws." Brown also serves on the Board of Directors of CARS.

          The attorneys general settled the matter without taking even a single case to court, despite the fact state laws typically have provisions that prohibit false or deceptive advertising, bait-and-switch, and fraud. Some, like New York, also require dealers to certify that used vehicles they offer for sale are "roadworthy," or, like Massachusetts, to warrant they are safe to operate. In addition, injured victims or their surviving family members have won legal settlements or court cases alleging claims such as violations of the common law duty of care,
negligence, or wrongful death. In 2016, a federal judge hearing a case against CarMax, and having seen how CarMax operates, stated that she warned her children, "Don’t you buy a certified car from CarMax!"

          CarMax and other auto dealers have repeatedly attempted to persuade state legislatures to enact laws that would allow the dealers to get away with selling dangerous unrepaired recalled used vehicles with “disclosure.” However, consumer / safety organizations have fought back and have generally succeeded in defeating those attempts, including in states such as New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and California.

          Federal law prohibits dealers from selling unrepaired recalled vehicles that are new. Plus the federal Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act (spearheaded by CARS and Raechel and Jacqueline’s mother Cally Houck) prohibits rental car companies with fleets of 35 or more vehicles from renting or selling unrepaired recalled used vehicles. The federal law supplements existing state laws by giving the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to crack down on violators and issue fines without anyone having to suffer economic or physical harm.

          Car dealers and their allies in Congress have been blocking passage of federal legislation sponsored by Senators Blumenthal, Markey, and Warren, S 1835, that would give NHTSA the authority to crack down on CarMax and other dealers who deliberately or negligently sale hazardous unrepaired recalled used vehicles, in addition to the protections provided by state consumer protection laws.

          People victimized by CarMax's reckless practices sometimes find it difficult to fight back because CarMax imposes forced arbitration on its customers, denying them access to justice in a court of law. However, state attorneys general in states that did not enter into this terrible settlement could still take action without the imposition of forced arbitration.
CarMax inspection report for a "CarMax Quality Certified" BMW that a CarMax store in Modesto, California sold a father for his 17-year-old son to drive, indicating (on page 4) that the airbags "meet standards" – even though BMW had previously recalled the car because it had a potentially deadly Takata driver airbag

Recall notice for the same BMW

Over 117,000 people have signed a petition on calling on CarMax to stop selling unrepaired recalled cars.

Examples of reports about victims of unrepaired recalled used vehicles:
Carlos Solis (Claims Journal)
Corey Jackson (Chicago Sun-Times)
Rekeyon Barnette (WCNC)
Anthony Burgess (CBS)
Lisa Shelton and other consumers (Checkbook Magazine)
Excerpt from ABC 20/20 undercover investigation showing how CarMax tricks car buyers into purchasing hazardous recalled vehicles
More excerpts from TV news reports about CarMax’s dangerous practices
Do you live where wildfires pose a threat?
Beware of CarMax and their firebomb cars and trucks
Since 2015, auto manufacturers have recalled more than 26.5 million vehicles due to defects that can cause them to burst into flames. Some manufacturers recommend that the owners park the cars outside, where they may be less likely to burn down homes. But beware: if you buy an unrepaired, recalled firebomb car from a car dealer like CarMax, and it catches on fire and burns down your home, or destroys a whole town, they will try to pin the blame on you. This is a lesson that Californian Anthony Santos found out the hard way, after a Ford F-150 pickup he purchased from CarMax caught on fire in his driveway and caused over $200,000 in damage to the pickup, his garage, and his home. Fortunately, he and his children were able to escape the flames.
CarMax blamed the owner for buying this ticking time-bomb pickup truck that CarMax failed to get repaired.
Image source: NBC 4, L.A.
Before he bought the pickup from CarMax, Ford had issued a safety recall because the truck had a dangerous defect that made it prone to catching on fire without any warning. CarMax failed to get the FREE safety recall repair done before selling the pickup to Mr. Santos. Despite neglecting to get the repairs done, CarMax advertised that the pickup had passed CarMax's "125 point inspection." This of course would lead car buyers to believe that it must at least be safe, and free from known, hazardous safety recall defects.
  Mr. Santos found out the hard way that CarMax fails to get safety recall repairs done before selling its so-called "certified" "inspected" vehicles for top dollar. Image source: NBC 4, L.A.
After the truck caught on fire, CarMax tried to pin the blame on Mr. Santos for not finding out about the recall, taking his truck to a Ford dealership, and getting the safety recall repair done himself. Mr. Santos sued CarMax, and eventually they won, on a technicality.

Bottom line: Buying cars from CarMax is risky, especially if you live where there's a serious risk of wildfires.

Learn more: NBC Bay Area: Risks of Buying a Used Car and What the Dealership Isn't Telling You

Will Congress Protect America's Used Car Buyers from
Car Dealers Who Sell Hazardous Recalled Deathtraps?
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is voting now on life-and-death auto safety legislation. Powerful special interests -- including greedy, unscrupulous car dealers -- are lobbying Congress behind the scenes, attempting to kill the bills. One of the most important potentially lifesaving bills is S1835, championed by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), and Warren (D-MA). CARS deeply appreciates their leadership in the battle for saving lives and preventing needless tragedies. We believe that no matter whether you can afford a brand new car, if you buy a car from a licensed car dealer, you shouldn't have to worry the dealer is deliberately selling you a hazardous, defective recalled deathtrap.

CARS is spearheading a coalition working for passage of S1835. Here's the letter we sent Senators on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and their staff:
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
Americans for Financial Reform
Center for Auto Safety
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Federation of California
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Kids and Car Safety
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Consumers League
Public Citizen
Safety Research and Strategies
The Trauma Foundation
June 15, 2021

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Commerce
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Roger Wicker
Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: S 1835, Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act
Introduced by Senators Blumenthal, Markey and Warren
Dear Chairperson Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker:

          On behalf of the organizations listed above, which together represent tens of millions of American consumers, workers, and their families, we urge you to vote to include S.1835, The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act, as originally introduced by Senators Blumenthal, Markey, and Warren, in the Surface Transportation Investment Act.

          This lifesaving Act is long overdue. A decade ago, in the wake of the Toyota sudden acceleration debacle, Congress directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the status of motor vehicle safety recalls and make recommendations to Congress. Among the GAO's findings, issued in June, 2011:

          "NHTSA [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] cannot require used-car dealers (or franchised dealerships that sell used vehicles) to... get the defect remedied prior to sale... With over 35 million used cars sold by used and franchised dealerships in the United States in 2009 alone, this could pose a significant risk to the safety of millions of vehicle drivers and may have a negative impact on recall completion rates." 1

          Unnecessary delays in granting NHTSA the authority called for by the GAO have already cost too many precious lives, and caused too many serious and debilitating injuries. Yet another GAO study, instead of a prohibition, would be a death sentence for vulnerable American used car buyers and their families. Delays cost lives.

          The very fact that the National Automobile Dealers Association is actively opposing this lifesaving bill, claiming that safety recall defects are trivial and do not pose a significant threat to consumers, is evidence that the bill is desperately needed, because car dealers continue to mislead the public - including their own customers -- about the hazards posed by dangerous recalled used vehicles. Car dealers commonly downplay the risks and fail to get free recall repairs done before selling hazardous ticking time-bomb vehicles to retail consumers, jeopardizing the health and safety of used car buyers, their families, others who share the roads, and those harmed by collateral damage, such as vehicle-caused wildfires.

          Tragically, car dealers fail to value human life enough to get free repairs done to fix deadly safety recall defects, even when the repairs are readily available and can be performed in a matter of hours.

          Consumers of color, recent immigrants, and teenagers and young adults buying their first vehicles are particularly vulnerable to being victimized by unscrupulous car dealers, as they frequently cannot afford the brand new vehicles that car dealers are required by federal law to repair – even though the used cars have the exact same safety defects.

          The following cases are only a small sample to illustrate why Congress must act now, to provide NHTSA the authority to crack down on car dealers who sell dangerous recalled used vehicles:

          In 2019, a car dealer in Connecticut sold a Black teenager who was buying his first car on his own a 2011 Hyundai with 11 unrepaired safety recall defects – a deathtrap on wheels. Fortunately, he found out about the recall defects and sued the dealer under state law and won a refund, plus his attorney's fees. But others are not as fortunate.

          Corey Jackson was seriously injured by a faulty ignition switch in the unrepaired recalled 2008 Buick LaCrosse he bought at a Chicago-area used car dealership in 2016. Months later, the defect occurred and he crashed head-on into a tree. The car's airbags did not deploy, due to the safety recall defect. Jackson's head slammed into the steering wheel and he was knocked unconscious. He suffered a broken jaw, collarbone, wrist and ankle. His hip was shattered. He lost his job and his car. Years later, he was still in pain and walking with a limp.
1   United States Government Accountability Office: Auto Safety: NHTSA Has Options to Improve the Safety Defect Recall Process, Issued June 2011, page 40. (emphasis added).
          The former Chairman of the NADA claimed that "only 6% of recalls are 'hazardous'," but the reality is far different. 2 Typical auto safety recall defects include:
  • Faulty brakes
  • Loss of steering, including steering wheels that come off in the driver's hands
  • Catching on fire
  • Seat belts that fail when they are needed in a crash
  • Sticking accelerator pedals
  • Ticking time-bomb Takata airbags that explode with excessive force, propelling metal shrapnel into the faces, necks, and torsos of drivers and passengers, causing serious injuries including blindness, and causing many victims to bleed to death. This deadly defect exists in tens of millions of recalled vehicles.
          This false car dealer claim is even belied by auto dealers within the NADA's own ranks. Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the largest franchised new car dealership chain in the U.S., with over 300 franchised new car dealerships coast-to-coast, described the seriousness of auto safety recalls this way:
"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers." 3
          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." 4

          In addition, the NADA is making false claims about the bill and using outdated data based on the erroneous premise that the bill would require dealers to ground all unrepaired recalled used cars, pending the performance of safety recall repairs. However, S1985 would allow car dealers to sell unrepaired recalled used vehicles at wholesale to other dealers, or to auto auctions - just not to retail customers. Wholesale prices tend to be less profitable for the dealers, but particularly at a time when the price of used cars has soared nearly 30% and car dealers' profits are skyrocketing, there can be no justification for allowing car dealers to keep charging top dollar at retail for used cars with killer safety recall defects.

          The American public is overwhelmingly on our side on this issue. According to polling conducted by Public Policy Polling in numerous states, including in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee, Maryland, and New Jersey, over 90% of likely voters oppose allowing car dealers to sell used vehicles with unrepaired recalled safety defects.

          In Australia and the United Kingdom, the car dealers' negligent and reckless behavior would be a crime, punishable by fines and - if they cause injuries or deaths - potentially also criminal prosecution.
2   "Carlson vows to press NADA's fight against regulation," Automotive News, April 2, 2016. regulation?cciid=email-autonews-asdetroit Quote in context: "Carlson said only dealers should be authorized to perform all recall repairs for all customers, though he cautioned against legislation to require dealers to fix all recalls on used cars prior to sale. Such a move would ground millions of cars unnecessarily and diminish vehicle trade-in values, because only 6 percent of recalls are 'hazardous,' he said, citing a 2014 analysis by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers."

3   AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, "Used-Car Loophole for Used Cars Tightens Up," Automotive News, February 8, 2016. (Emphasis added.)

4   NHTSA Official Statement, issued April 4, 2011. (Emphasis added.)
          But here in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration remains powerless to protect the American public - unless the hazardous recalled car is brand new or a used rental car that is subject to the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, which passed with widespread bi-partisan support and was signed into law by President Obama in 2015, despite opposition from the NADA and auto manufacturers (except General Motors and Honda).

          Tragically, the delay in enacting the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act likely contributed to the senseless death of Jewel Brangman, who was only 26 when she was killed by an unrepaired Takata airbag in a recalled Honda Civic rental car. Her father Alexander Brangman has become a tireless, internationally recognized auto safety advocate, and is also a supporter of S1835.

          Each year, tens of millions of Americans buy used cars from car dealers. Their lives, and the lives of their family members, are at stake. That is why we urge you to stand up to the car dealer lobby and vote YES on S1835.

          Thank you for your consideration of our views. Should you or your staff have any questions regarding our position, please contact Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

          Respectfully submitted,

Cathy Chase, President
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Linda Jun, Senior Policy Counsel
Americans for Financial Reform and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund

Jason Levine, Executive Director
Center for Auto Safety

Jack Gillis, Executive Director
Consumer Federation of America

Robert Herrell, Executive Director
Consumer Federation of California

Rosemary Shahan, President
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Janette Fennell, President and Founder
Kids and Car Safety

Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director

Christine Hines, Legislative Director
National Association of Consumer Advocates

John W. Van Alst, Attorney and Director of the Working Cars for Working Families Project
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)

Sally Greenberg, Executive Director
National Consumers League

Remington Gregg
Public Citizen

Sean Kane, President
Safety Research and Strategies

Andrew McGuire, Executive Director
The Trauma Foundation

Edmund Mierzwinski, Senior Director, Legislative Programs
News release issued by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey:
For Immediate Release
June 26, 2019


The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act would close a safety loophole that poses large risk to American drivers & families
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act to ensure used vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls are repaired before being sold, leased, or loaned to consumers. The bill requires used car dealers to repair any outstanding safety recalls in used automobiles prior to selling, leasing, or loaning them to consumers. Current federal law does not prohibit car dealers from selling cars with outstanding recalls despite the incredible risk posed to the safety of everyone on the road. State laws exist that prohibit the selling of unsafe vehicles, but these laws are not being adequately enforced. The legislation addresses this unacceptable gap in consumer protection that confuses car buyers who believe they are buying a product with safety assurances, and threatens the lives of everyone on our nation's roads.

Blumenthal announced his intent to introduce the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act at yesterday's U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety hearing. Full video of Blumenthal's comments highlighting the importance of the bill is available here.

"Consumers shouldn't be sold or leased used cars with unrepaired safety issues. This bill will ensure auto-dealers repair dangerous and defective used cars before letting their customers drive them off the lot and onto our roads," Blumenthal said. "This is a no-brainer measure to protect American consumers and our roads from unsafe cars."

"All cars – whether they are brand new or used – need to be safe before they leave the lot," said Markey. "I am pleased to work with Senator Blumenthal on this important legislation that will make sure unrepaired cars subject to an outstanding recall are not on our roads. Closing this loophole is a critical step toward improving safety for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

The bill is supported by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

"Passage of this important auto safety legislation will close a gaping safety loophole in federal law. Meanwhile, consumers victimized by dealers who play 'recalled car roulette' should fight back, using existing state consumer protection laws against such dangerous practices," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

"Vehicles with unrepaired recalls are unsafe for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and everyone on the road. Whether the vehicle was purchased new or used the danger is the same from non-deploying or exploding airbags, ignition switch failures causing a loss of motive power, or preventable vehicle fires. We are glad the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act will address this unnecessary loophole millions of unsafe used cars fall through every year," Jason Levine, Executive Director, Center for Auto Safety.

"The sale, lease or loan of used cars with known safety defects is a dangerous practice that potentially puts millions of drivers at risk. Recent high-profile recalls, as well as past efforts to cover up safety defects, have led to tragic loss of life and needless injuries. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) are to be commended for introducing a commonsense measure that will keep vehicles with unrepaired recalls off the roads. We urge Congress to pass the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act to close this loophole. Second-hand cars should not mean second-rate safety," said Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.


Tennessee Opens Floodgates for Deathtrap Cars
Everyone who shares the roads in TN faces greater risk

Stephanie Erdman was blinded in one eye by an exploding Takata airbag in a recalled Honda. Other victims have bled to death. Tennessee's new law makes it easier for car dealers to get away with selling recalled used cars with this life-threatening safety defect.

On January 1, Tennessee will become the first, and only, state in the nation to ease restrictions against auto dealers who wish to profit from selling unrepaired recalled used cars to consumers at top dollar, without getting the safety recall repairs performed first.

That's because earlier this year, in the waning hours of the legislative session, legislators in Nashville caved in to auto dealers and quietly sneaked through legislation that has been rejected in every other state where it was introduced.

Similar legislation backed by auto dealers in other states, such as New Jersey, California, Maryland, and Virginia, were opposed by leading auto safety organizations and consumer groups, and defeated.

"Tennessee's new law makes it easier for crooked car dealers to get away with selling unsafe, defective recalled cars," said Andy Spears, Executive Director of Tennessee Citizen Action.
"This horrible law weakens state legal protections that helped deter unscrupulous dealers from selling cars with lethal safety defects to consumers," said Steven Taterka of Kingston Springs, TN, a former Assistant Attorney General of Tennessee who specializes in representing consumers in auto fraud cases against car dealers and auto manufacturers.
"Tragically, Tennessee's new law is likely to result in more dealers in that state engaging in 'recalled used car roulette,'" said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.
Statewide polling conducted December 14-15 in Tennessee by Public Policy Polling found that a whopping 89% of the state's voters agreed that when there is a federal safety recall for a dangerous car, auto dealers should not be able to sell them until they have been fixed. The percentage is even higher – between 93-94%, when the defects are specified, such as catching on fire, steering loss, exploding airbags. The public in Tennessee also resoundingly rejects the concept of allowing dealers to sell unsafe recalled used cars if they merely "disclose" the recall status.

Under federal law, it is illegal for auto dealers to sell new vehicles that the manufacturers have recalled due to safety defects. There is also a federal law that prohibits rental car companies with fleets of 35 or more rental vehicles from renting, loaning, or selling unrepaired recalled cars. This law, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, applies to millions of used cars.

While there is no similar federal prohibition against dealers selling other recalled used cars, state laws in all 50 states have made it illegal for dealers to sell unsafe recalled used cars. For example, such practices may violate the dealer's common law duty of care, or statutes against unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or express or implied warranties, or against negligence or wrongful death.

Dealers who sell unsafe vehicles face tough sanctions under various state laws in other states, including loss of their license to sell vehicles, or – if someone is injured or killed as a result – even fines and other criminal penalties.

Laws in all 50 states already make it illegal for dealers to sell unsafe recalled used cars. this law means that Tennessee car buyers and their passengers and families are losing protections that existed before, and continue to exist in the other 49 states.

"Unfortunately, Tennessee will become a dumping ground for unsafe recalled cars," predicted Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a non-profit auto safety organization which has been in the forefront in defeating similar dealer-backed bills in other states.
"The new law doesn't even require dealers to disclose safety recalls, because it lets them use any database they wish – including private databases with big holes that fail to include many vehicles that are being recalled. If the car doesn't show up in that database, they don't have to disclose anything," said Sean Kane, Founder and President of The Safety Institute.
The new law requires dealers to repair recalled used vehicles only if the safety recall notice the dealer chooses to check indicates that the manufacturer has issued a "do not drive" or "do not sell" warning. However, safety recall notices generally do not include such information. So any supposed safety benefits are a sham.

Furthermore, historically auto manufacturers have issued such warnings only regarding about 6% of recalled vehicles, usually when the vehicle is being launched as a new model and bad publicity about fatalities and injuries might hamper new car sales. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lacks the authority to require manufacturers to issue "do not drive" warnings, no matter how dangerous the vehicles are.

Types of safety defects where the manufacturer did not issue a "do not drive" warning:
  • Catching on fire
  • Wheels that fall off
  • Exploding Takata airbags that spew shrapnel into the passenger compartment, causing blindness or
  • GM ignition switch defect that causes loss of power steering and braking, and airbag failures to inflate when needed in a crash
  • Faulty brakes
  • Sticking accelerator pedals
Links to related documents:
New Tennessee law to protect crooked car dealers, that takes effect January 1, 2018

Autocheck report for the Jeep that Sean Kane bought from CarMax, giving the Jeep a glowing report

"Disclosure" form CarMax handed Sean Kane to sign, after he had already signed a purchase contract buying a recalled Jeep. The form states that according to Autocheck there are "NO" recalls pending. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, based on data Fiat Chrysler is required to provide to NHTSA and update at least every 7 days, there were 3 unrepaired recalls – catching on fire, bad brakes, and stalling in traffic.
Without laws like the new Tennessee law, dealers face potential legal liability under state laws or common law.
Automotive News: "New software helps dealership track safety recalls better"
"There are theories of liability that plaintiff attorneys may attempt to attach to these vehicles, even if dealers are using good-faith efforts to identify potential open recalls," says Shawn Mercer, a partner at Bass Sox Mercer, a Tallahassee, Fla., law firm that specializes in dealership franchise law. There is no federal law against selling a vehicle with an open recall. But "depending on the jurisdiction," Mercer says, "potential liability can stem from violations of state laws or common law tort claims."
Car dealers admit they want laws like Tennessee's because they believe that allows them to evade legal liability when their victims are injured or killed.
Automotive News: "Honda pushes dealers for buyers' signatures on airbag liability"
"….Laurie McCants, managing partner of Honda of Covington in suburban New Orleans, says she believes the signed document helps protect dealers. "If there is a process and we follow the process, I don't feel liable," she says….Neither does Joe Wagner, operating partner of Winter Haven Honda in Florida. He says he is getting no pushback from consumers about signing the document. 'I believe it takes away the liability,' he said about the document…." [Emphasis added.]
Automotive News: "Recall bill cruises, but will it help?"
"The California bill – which dealers see as a potential defense against lawsuits – would require used-car dealers and rental companies to notify their customers of any outstanding recalls, though they wouldn't have to undertake any repairs… dealers have faced new liability risk since the creation of an internet database that allows a customer or a dealer to check for recalls by entering a vehicle identification number."
Courier-Post in New Jersey: "Auto-related bills roll through Assembly"
"The safety recall disclosure bill has the backing of the New Jersey Independent Automobile Dealers Association, which believes it offers protection to the dealer, said Paula Frendel, the association's executive director."

Tennessee has a horrible, anti-consumer,
anti-safety law.  The worst law in the U.S.

So - how can you and your family stay safe?
#1 NEVER, EVER buy a car with an unrepaired safety recall.
Recalled cars are ticking time bombs on wheels. They are dangerous and defective. They are likely to injure or kill you, your passengers, and / or others who share the roads. Many recalled vehicles have defects that have killed or maimed others.

Typical safety recall defects:
  • catching on fire
  • bad brakes
  • seat belts that fail to stay fastened in a crash
  • wheels that fall off
  • steering loss
  • accelerator pedals that stick
  • stalling in traffic without warning
Plus – many recalled used cars have multiple safety defects. Like faulty steering, and catching on fire, and bad brakes, and airbags that fail to inflate when you need them.

Here's what can happen –
Horrific crash kills family of 4 just hours after dealer handed the CHP officer the keys to an unsafe car.
Just hours after a car dealer handed California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor the keys to this Lexus, it killed him, his wife, their 13-year-old daughter, and his brother-in-law. The accelerator stuck, causing the car to careen out of control on the freeway, reaching speeds over 120 mph. This tragic crash led to the massive Toyota sudden acceleration recall of millions of vehicles with sticking accelerators.

The lesson from this horrible tragedy is: An auto safety defect can kill you and your family, before you even have a chance to get the car repaired. Car crashes are a leading cause of death and devastating injuries. It's already risky to be on the roads, even when your car is safe to drive. Your life is precious. It's not worth the risk.

Recalled used cars can be impossible to get repaired, for a long time.
Repair parts to fix the safety defects may not be available for months, or even years. Right now, across America, tens of millions of cars with exploding Takata airbags still have not been fixed. Auto manufacturers say that it could take until 2019 before enough repair parts are available. If you buy one of these cars, it may be a long time before you can get it repaired. Some manufacturers are offering loaner cars, but others, such as Ford, refuse to provide loaners, while their customers remain at risk.

For some other safety defects, the manufacturers have not even designed the replacement parts yet, and it may take them a long time to produce them.

You may face having to pay hidden costs.
If the car is 15 model years or older, you may have to pay out of pocket for safety recall repairs. Auto manufacturers are required to pay for safety recall repairs -- but only for up to 15 years from when the recall is issued. If the car falls outside that 15 year limit, you may be stuck with a huge repair bill, and meanwhile you will be driving a very unsafe car.

Only franchised new car dealers are authorized to make safety recall repairs. The nearest authorized dealer may be a long distance from where you live and work. Taking a recalled car to a dealer may mean you would have to take time from work, and drive a long distance. What if you can't get time off from work during the hours when the nearest dealership is open for repairs? Would you lose pay, or your job, if you have to leave work to take your car to the dealership? Can you do without your car for a couple of days if the repairs drag on?

What if you injure or kill someone else?
Candice Anderson pled guilty to negligent homicide after her fiancee was killed in a wreck caused by the GM ignition switch defect, which eventually led to a massive recall.
If you injure or kill someone else, you could be sued, and may face serious liability. You could also be arrested and convicted of vehicular homicide and sent to prison. In Texas, a woman whose vehicle had the GM ignition switch defect pled guilty in the death of her fiancee, and only years later was finally exonerated, after it became public that the car was defective and GM had concealed the defect and lied to safety regulators.

See related story: USA Today: Woman cleared in fatal crash now blamed on GM recall

DO: search for used cars offered for sale by large rental car companies.
Car dealers in TN want to sell you recalled cars with defects like the one that caused this crash, killing Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20. The car was recalled because a steering hose defect could occur, causing a loss of steering and an under-hood fire.
Unlike car dealers, rental car companies with fleets of 35 vehicles or more are prohibited by federal law from renting, loaning, or selling unrepaired recalled cars. So they are a good place to look for used cars that have already had the safety recall repairs done.

For example, Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis all sell used cars. The federal Rental Car Safety Act is named for two sisters, Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were ages 24 and 20, when they were killed by an unrepaired recalled rental car with a defective steering hose. More about how the federal law got passed, thanks to the courage of their mother, Cally Houck:

See related story: L.A. Times: One mother spent a decade after her daughters' deaths changing car-rental laws

DO: Search for used cars offered for sale by dealers in other states, but be careful to check for safety recalls first.
Dealers in other states may be less likely to risk selling consumers unsafe cars, because no other state has enacted a law like Tennessee. When car dealers attempted to get similar laws passed in states like Virginia, the authors were forced to withdraw or amend them to remove the harmful provisions, due to outraged reactions from safety advocates and their own constituents.

However, it's still important to check the safety recall status yourself. Never trust a seller to tell you the truth about safety recalls. Sadly, many of them have been repeatedly caught on camera lying about safety recalls.

DO: Search for used cars offered for sale by individuals, but be careful to check out the cars very carefully before you buy.
Here are tips for how to get a good deal on a nice, safe, reliable used car, without having to set foot on a car dealer's lot: CARS Tips for Used Car Buyers

DO: Beware of auto dealers who claim their cars passed a "rigorous inspection" and qualified to be sold as "certified."
It's shocking, but some major car dealers, such as CarMax, advertise that their cars are "only the best" and have passed a "rigorous 100+ point inspection," and qualify to be sold as "certified," but fail to get the FREE safety recall repairs done. Don't be misled by such claims.

DO: ALWAYS check for safety recall repairs yourself, before you buy.
If you have access to the internet, it's simple and easy to check for safety recalls.

First, find the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for that car or truck. The VIN is a unique 17-digit combination of letters and numbers. It should be posted on the driver's side of the dashboard, and visible through the windshield. It should also be on a sticker on the driver doorjamb that includes the date the car was manufactured.

Next, visit Click "search for recall by VIN" and then type in your VIN. If the recall notice says that the recall is "incomplete," then according to the manufacturer, it has not yet been repaired.

If you don't have internet access, you can also find out by calling the manufacturer's toll free number. Or you can contact a local franchised dealer who sells that brand, ask for the service department, give them the VIN, and ask them to check the recall status for you.

What if a Tennessee car dealer tries to sell you a recalled used car?
Look for a separate form that the dealer may try to get you to sign, that says something about "recalls." It may be hidden in a stack of documents the dealer hands you to sign.

Ask the dealer / manager if he will give you a "deathtrap discount." Not only are recalled used cars unsafe, they are also worth much less than a safe car. In fact, they may be worth very little, since they are unsafe to drive.

Record what the dealer says, so you have it on record in case you need to show what the dealer / manager / salesperson said about the condition of the car.

Other questions to ask the dealer, and to record:
  • Is this car unsafe to drive?
  • How long will it be before I can get repair parts to fix all of the safety recalls?
  • Will you provide me with a safe loaner car (or truck) that I can drive, at no cost to me, until this car (or truck) is repaired?
  • Will I have to pay out of pocket for any repair costs to get the safety recall defect repaired?
Why record what the dealer says?
  • Dealers may be a little less likely to lie if they know they are being recorded.
  • You can share what the dealer said with consumer groups, and with reporters or law enforcement agencies. Getting information from consumers about what dealers say about the safety of the cars they offer for sale may help put pressure on dealers to stop engaging in such dangerous practices
  • If you are injured or killed, your family will at least have a record of what you were told, in the event they may wish to file a lawsuit.

"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"
CARS and other leading consumer / safety organizations oppose
allowing CarMax and other car dealers to engage in
false advertising regarding the safety of "certified" used cars with
lethal safety defects as "safe," and "repaired for safety"
On behalf of a coalition of leading consumer and safety organizations, CARS filed comments, opposing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's dangerous proposed consent orders with CarMax, Asbury Automotive Group, and West-Herr Automotive Group.

FTC would allow CarMax to advertise so-called "certified" cars with this defect, that caused Stephanie Erdmann to lose her eye, as "safe" and "repaired for safety" and passing a "rigorous inspection."
The groups warn that:

"As the FTC states, 'Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety ... defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers.' [footnote #1] We agree with the tragic truth of this statement.

Yet, despite the FTC's acknowledgment of the imminent hazards that can be posed by unrepaired recalled vehicles, the proposed agreements would allow [CarMax and the other car dealers] to advertise unsafe, unrepaired, defective recalled used cars with serious safety defects that have killed and injured people as "safe," "repaired for safety issues," or "subject to a rigorous inspection," without repairing the safety defects. They could do so if the advertising merely includes a contradictory, confusing, inadequate, and misleading disclaimer that the dealer sells cars that "MAY be subject to recalls for safety issues that have not been repaired" and the dealer subsequently provides other information that is also inadequate and much too late in the sales process to compensate for the initial false impression."

*1 Fed. Trade Comm'n, Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment, 81 Fed. Reg. 93931, 93933 (Dec. 22, 2016).

Read more: Comments filed by CARS and many consumer and safety organizations, opposing FTC's dangerous proposed consent orders

Federal Trade Commission to America's used car buyers: Drop Dead
Agency ignores pleas by safety groups, parents of children killed by recalled cars,
and safety champions in Congress, and approves
anti-consumer, anti-safety consent orders with GM and car dealership chains
flood vehicle
FTC says it's OK for dealers to advertise that cars like this recalled PT Cruiser, which killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, are "safe."
       Consumer and safety organizations blasted the FTC Commissioners' decision, announced today, to finalize consent orders with GM and the Lithia and Koons auto dealership chains that will allow them to advertise that unrepaired recalled used cars with lethal safety defects are "safe," have been "repaired for safety," passed a "rigorous inspection" and qualified to be sold as "certified" cars without repairing the safety defects, if they merely disclose that the cars "may" have an open recall.

       The consent orders may lower the standard for the industry regarding how unrepaired recalled used cars are advertised, and will be in effect for 20 years, unless they are overturned in court or preempted by federal law. The dangerous behavior allowed by the FTC is worse than GM and other manufacturers say that they allow among their franchised dealers. It would also be worse than the current practices among many dealerships, which are constrained by state laws and also are concerned about their reputations.

        The consent orders are also worse than existing law in all 50 states. Under state laws, dealers who engage in such practices face charges of negligence, wrongful death, punitive damages for fraud, violations of common law, and other serious sanctions. In each state where auto dealer trade associations have attempted to change the laws to make it legal for them to sell unrepaired recalled used cars with "disclosure," their efforts have been rejected by lawmakers, including in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee.

       Quotes from consumer advocates and parents of children killed by unrepaired recalled cars:

        "This is tragic. The FTC's reckless action will result in more people being killed and injured because of unsafe, defective used cars," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, which has been leading efforts to oppose the agreements. Shahan vowed to sue the FTC to get the consent agreements overturned.

       "The FTC is supposed to protect consumers. Instead, they are protecting unscrupulous car dealers," said Cally Houck, mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20, who were killed by an unrepaired recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser that caught fire and caused them to crash head-on into an 18-wheeler. Subsequently, Houck won a unanimous jury verdict, rendered under state law, awarding over $15 million in compensatory damages, based on claims of negligence and wrongful death.

Unrepaired recalled Honda Civic killed Jewel Brangman, age 26.
       "This would be catastrophic to consumers. When I met with each of the Commissioners, and urged them not to do this, what struck me was how clueless they were about how dangerous recalled cars really are," said Alexander Brangman. He is the father of Jewel Brangman, who was only 26 when she was killed by an unrepaired recalled Honda Civic with a faulty Takata air bag that exploded with excessive force, spewing metal fragments that severed an artery in her neck, causing her to bleed to death.

       "The FTC is literally giving car dealers license to kill," said Taras Rudnitsky, a Florida attorney who has represented the surviving families of victims who were killed by the defects in unrepaired recalled used cars.

       "This isn't just 'weak' consumer protection from the FTC. It is the FTC actively harming consumers, giving dangerous new protection to car dealers who fraudulently sell unsafe cars. We have won cases for consumers cheated by sleazy car dealers that did things very similar to what the FTC is now permitting, with courts and juries finding their conduct to be 'fraud' and deserving of heavy penalties," said Bernard Brown, a Missouri attorney who has represented victims of unscrupulous car dealers who sold them unsafe vehicles.

Relevant documents:

Comments filed by consumer groups and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, opposing the consent agreements:

Results of nationwide polling, which found that the American public overwhelmingly agrees that allowing dealers to advertise that unrepaired recalled cars are "safe" or "certified" is deceptive:

FTC's proposed consent agreement with GM – see especially page 4, A (2):

Letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez from U.S. Senators Schumer, Nelson, Blumenthal, Markey, and Durbin, blasting the FTC's proposed agreements as "anti-consumer" and "anti-safety": 07 14 Letter to NHTSA FTC re Deceptive Used Car Advertisements.pdf

Letter from U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky to FTC Chairwoman Ramirez, calling on the FTC to revise or reject the proposed consent orders:

Recent actions by the FTC, acting more aggressively to curb false advertising about the ingredients in sunscreen and dog food than about cars with lethal safety defects:
Don't let car dealers trick you into buying
an unsafe, defective recalled car
1) Do NOT pay extra for a car that is "certified." That just means you are paying too much, particularly since the Federal Trade Commission allows dealers to advertised that cars are "safe," "repaired for safety" and qualified to be sold as "certified" cars -- without getting the killer safety defects repaired.

2) NEVER trust what a car dealer or salesperson says about whether a car is safe. Do not trust any car dealer advertising or any claims they make, whether they are in writing, or verbally, about the safety of the cars they offer for sale. It's unfortunate, but this is the new reality.

3) Check the safety recall status of any car yourself BEFORE you agree to buy. Here's how to check:
  • Get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which should be on a plate on the dashboard and also on a sticker on the driver door jamb.
  • Enter the VIN at the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at:
  • If you do not have access to the internet, or wish to talk with a person, call the toll-free number for the manufacturer of the car. Here's a list of toll-free numbers for each manufacturer:
    4) If a car has an unrepaired safety recall, WALK AWAY. Your life is precious. So is the safety of your family and friends, and others who share the roads.

    CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his wife Cleofe Lastrella, and their daughter, Mahala, age 13, and her uncle Chris Lastrella, were killed by a runaway Toyota Lexus hours after a Lexus dealer loaned them the car.
    5) If a dealer tells you the defect is not serious, do NOT believe them. Many dealers lie about the risks posed by recalled cars. Some people have been killed by a defective car within hours of when they were handed the keys. One horrific example of what can happen: In San Diego, a Highway Patrol officer, his wife, their 13-year-old daughter, and her uncle were all killed within hours, after they were loaned a defective Lexus. The defect? The car had a problem with the floor mat that caused it to accelerate out of control, reaching speeds of over 120 mph.

    6) If a dealer tells you that you can get a safety recall repaired right away, for free, do NOT believe them. For millions of recalled cars, it is impossible to get repairs because of a severe shortage of repair parts. It may take years before the car can be made safe to drive. If it was so easy to get the car repaired, the dealer should have gotten the repairs done, before offering the car for sale.

    7) You can often find a safe car and a better deal by buying directly from another consumer, but you still have to be careful how you buy. Here are CARS' tips for how to get a good deal on a safe, reliable used car without having to go to a car dealership:

    Tragic Crash in Texas

    Exploding Takata Air Bag in 2002 Honda Claims
    Life of 35-year-old Father of Two Teenagers
    "Buyers of Used Cars are Left to Find Safety Recalls on Their Own"
    New York Times
    January 31, 2015
    By Hiroko Tabuchi
    A 2002 Honda like this one uses airbags from Takata.
    "Buying a used car in the United States can be a dangerous proposition — if the vehicle has an unadvertised safety defect.

    This month, Carlos Solis died after the airbag in a used car he bought last year from a Texas dealer exploded, sending a piece of metal into his neck. Mr. Solis, 35, was not aware when he bought the vehicle that its airbags could be defective and had been recalled, according to a lawsuit filed by his family on Friday.

    A New York Times review of other vehicles listed online by the dealer, All Stars Auto Sales in Cypress, Tex., shows that close to half of those cars have also been recalled for safety defects but have not been repaired."

    Read more: NY Times: "Buyers of Used Cars are Left to Find Safety Recalls on Their Own"

    Read more: CARS leads efforts to stop dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers
    "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 [a specific federal] 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. [ However, dealers are prohibited from deceptive sales of unsafe, recalled used cars under broader federal and state statutes, and under common law.] 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"
    "Do Used Car Dealers Know about Open Airbag Recalls?"
    Good Morning America (ABC News)
    November 18, 2014
    By Gerry Wagschal, Stephanie Wash, Conor Ferguson, and Elizabeth Strassner
    "There are approximately 8 million cars subject to an airbag recall today, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ten automakers in total have been affected by the recalls. Stephanie Erdman, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, was a driver of one of the affected cars. The 29-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, bought a used 2002 Honda Civic in 2006. Erdman says she was never made aware that a few years after she purchased the vehicle, the airbags were recalled. Then, in September, 2013 she got into an accident in her car which severely injured her.

    'The airbags deployed and I had a massive strike on my right side,' Erdman said of the accident. 'I just blinded out on that side and I just felt this dripping blood… It was absolutely horrible.'

    Erdman later found out it was a piece of twisted metal that struck her, which she says shot out of the airbag and into her face. 'It’s an airbag,' she told ABC News. 'It’s supposed to protect me.'

    ....While automakers are required by law to notify their new car dealers and the car’s registered owner about any recalls at the time they are issued, there is currently no [specific] federal law stopping car dealers from selling cars with open recalls, or requiring used car dealers to check for them. [However, there are broad federal and state statutes that prohibit dealers from engaging in false advertising or unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or committing fraud, as well as laws against reckless endangerment, negligence, or wrongful death.]

    So ABC News producer Gerry Wagschal went undercover into nine used car lots in New York, New Jersey, and Alabama, to see what salespeople would say when we asked them about specific cars that we knew had open airbag recalls. Of the nine dealers ABC News went to, five told our producer they didn’t know if there was an airbag recall on the car, while four dealers told our producer there was no such recall."

    See the full report: Good Morning America: Do Used Car Dealers Know about Open Airbag Recalls?

    "Cars with unfixed safety recalls sold at dealerships"
    WSOC-TV Channel 9, Charlotte, North Carolina
    November 19, 2014
    by Blake Hanson
    "An Eyewitness News investigation found cars with unfixed, potentially dangerous airbag recalls are being sold on Carolina car lots and it's not against [a specific federal] law... [However, there are broad federal and state statutes that prohibit dealers from engaging in false advertising or unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or committing fraud, as well as laws against reckless endangerment, negligence, or wrongful death.] "This vehicle has a potentially dangerous recall that could cause a fire if it's left unfixed" ...

    A few cars later we found a driver, Jenny Rorie, has a car that is one of millions nationwide with the Takata air bag recall. "If it deploys, it could actually explode and shrapnel can come at you" ... "Yeah, that's kind of dangerous to me," said Rorie. "It's kind of scary."

    Eyewitness News sent producers to several dealerships. At Journey Auto Sales, the salesman gave us an outdated CarFax report on a Mazda 6 that was printed in June, prior to the latest recall."

    See the report: WSOC-TV: cars with unfixed safety recalls sold at dealerships

    Dealers are selling unsafe, recalled used cars equipped with defective air bags that can explode
    and propel sharp metal into your face. Some consumers have been blinded or killed.

       CarMax sold this recalled Dodge Ram to the Davidson family. Just 11 days later, it fell apart on the freeway
       and caught on fire. (More details below)

    Ad published in Sacramento News & Review warns consumers: CarMax sells unsafe, recalled cars

    ABC 30 investigation finds dangerous
    recalled cars for sale on dealer lots
    Channel 30 (ABC) Fresno
    November 17, 2014
    by Corin Hoggard
    "A record number of vehicles are getting recalled this year. Car makers have pulled about one of every five vehicles on the road, 58 million of them. But many of the potentially dangerous cars are hiding in plain sight on used car lots here in the Valley.

    The truth is: they're all over the place, and you may never know it until it's too late."
    See video: ABC 30 News investigation finds dangerous recalled cars on dealer lots

    Stop auto dealers from playing
    "recalled used car roulette"

    CarMax is the largest used-car retailer in the U.S. You've probably seen their ads claiming that every car they sell passes a rigorous "125+-point inspection.” What they don't tell you is that CarMax fails to get the safety recall repairs done before they sell cars to consumers.

    CarMax sells ticking timebomb cars with safety defects like: catching on fire, brake failure, exploding air bags, axles that break, ignition switches that make cars die in traffic and disable the air bags, and other life-threatening safety defects.

    CarMax says they're not authorized by auto manufacturers to perform safety recall repairs. So instead of taking recalled cars to other dealers who are authorized to do the repairs, for free, CarMax dumps the unsafe cars onto their customers.

    Last year, CarMax took in over $10 Billion. They can easily afford to get recalled cars repaired for free or sell them to dealers who are authorized to perform safety recall repairs. They just don't care enough about their customers' safety to do the right thing.

    CarMax needs to hear from consumers. Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers without getting the free repairs done first:
    CarMax: Stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers.

    Did CarMax sell you a recalled car?
    Tell us your story.
    About the photo at the top:

    On May 19, Angela and Clarence Davidson bought a used 2010 Dodge Ram from CarMax in Irvine, CA. With children at home and in college, and a 5-year-old grandson, they wanted a safe car. Because the car was "CarMax Quality Certified," they believed it was safe.

    But after they bought it, Chrysler told them the truck was recalled over a year ago. The drive shaft was defective and likely to separate from the rear axle. CarMax had failed to get it repaired before selling it to the Davidsons.

    When they tried to return it, Carmax refused, and told them it was now their problem, not CarMax's. So they took it to a Chrysler dealer for the safety recall repairs and thought it was fixed.

    But on May 30, without warning, the truck fell apart on the freeway and caught on fire. The couple and their 12-year-old daughter barely escaped before the truck exploded into flames. It also caused a brush fire that closed down the freeway for about 4 hours.

    They owned their “CarMax Quality Certified” truck just 11 days. Then it almost killed them.

    Safety Groups Seek Federal Trade
    Commission Curbs on CarMax Over
    Sales of Recalled Used Cars,
    Deceptive Advertising

    For immediate release: June 24, 2014
    WASHINGTON, DC. Eleven major national consumer and safety non-profit organizations are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, over its sales of recalled used cars. In a petition filed at the FTC on Monday, the groups charge that:

            CarMax advertises on its website, on television, in newspapers, and at its dealerships that each of the used vehicles it offers for sale are “CarMax Quality Certified” and has undergone a rigorous, “125+ point inspection.” However, CarMax fails to ensure that safety recalls are performed prior to selling used cars to consumers. As reported by the New York Times, “CarMax, the nation's largest seller of used cars, offers a “Certified Quality Inspection,” which does not include fixing [safety] recalls.”1

            “Car dealers shouldn't sell used cars that have a safety recall to consumers, period. Far too many times we have seen the tragic and often fatal consequences when deficient cars are allowed on the road, and it's time for the FTC to do everything it can to put a stop to it,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York).

            “CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers' lives,” said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), which spearheaded the petition. CARS is a national non-profit auto safety and consumer advocacy organization based in Sacramento, California.

            Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers. CarMax recently played a major role in killing first-in-the-nation legislation2 that was pending in California, to prohibit car dealers from selling recalled used cars to consumers unless the safety recall repairs have been performed. In a letter to California legislators, opposing the bill, CarMax wrote that “Manufacturers safety recalls should be taken seriously by manufacturers, dealers, and consumers.” But CarMax stopped short of saying that it ensures that safety recalls are performed on vehicles they offer for sale. Instead, CarMax said that it “carefully advises its customers to register their vehicles with its manufacturer as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can be apprised of any future recalls.” (Emphasis added.)

    CarMax complained in their letter that “Unfortunately, manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls. Further, the manufacturers do not even grant independent auto dealers like CarMax access to their internal databases in order to search a manufacturer's website... This system is broken.”

    Tyler Kidd, Counsel for CarMax, testified on Tuesday, June 17, before a legislative committee in Sacramento, and repeated CarMax's claim that the safety recall system for handling used cars “is broken.” He called for federal legislation to force auto manufacturers to allow non-franchised car dealerships like CarMax to perform auto safety recall repairs.

    Under federal law, auto manufacturers are responsible for performing safety recalls, and work closely with their franchised dealers to oversee the repair process, often including providing specialized training for their dealers' auto technicians. CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers. The fact that CarMax is not permitted to make the repairs itself is no excuse for selling consumers unsafe, recalled cars-- particularly when CarMax advertises them as “Quality Certified” and as having passed a rigorous inspection.

    In addition, CarMax's claims it cannot find out about vehicles' safety recall status ring hollow. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is easy for car dealers to check the safety recall status of used cars. In addition, as CarMax concedes in its letter opposing SB 686, NHTSA issued a final rule that takes full effect this August 14, to require ALL auto manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 vehicles a year to provide free, publicly accessible, VIN-searchable safety recall data on their own Websites, updated at least every 7 days.


    On May 19, the CarMax store in Irvine, CA, sold Clarence and Angela Davidson a used 2010 Dodge Ram. The couple had chosen to buy from CarMax because they have a 12-year-old daughter and 5-year-old grandson, and wanted a truck that was safe. But within days, when the Davidsons contacted Chrysler about a feature they wanted, the manufacturer's customer service representative informed them that their newly purchased truck was under a federal safety recall and had a serious safety defect.

    Chrysler recalled the truck in 2013 because it was prone to literally falling apart on the road. Chrysler notified truck owners that “The rear axle pinion nut on your vehicle may loosen...[and] cause the rear axle to seize or cause the driveshaft to separate resulting in a loss of motive power. Either situation could cause a crash without warning.”

    When they tried to return the truck, CarMax told them they owned it, and it was up to them to get the safety recall repaired. “I feel like CarMax is saying that our lives aren't worth anything, because we're not buying a new car,” said Angela Davidson.

    The Davidsons took the truck to a Chrysler dealership to have the safety recall repairs performed. A few days later, on May 30, when the Davidsons were riding in the Mojave Desert with their 12-year-old daughter in the back seat of the cab, the truck fell apart and caught on fire. Clarence pulled their daughter out of the back seat just seconds before the entire truck exploded into flames. The fire burned several acres and authorities closed the highway for about 4 hours. The charred remains of the truck have not yet been inspected by an expert, so it's not clear at this time whether the safety recall caused the incident. However, it is clear CarMax sold the Davidsons an unsafe, recalled truck.

    CARS warns used car buyers to always check the Vehicle Identification Number of any used car they are considering BEFORE they agree to anything. Consumers can find up-to-date safety recall information on most auto manufacturers' websites, or by calling the manufacturer's toll-free number or a local dealer, and providing the VIN.

    Links to documents, video of hearing:


    Consumer groups' petition to FTC:

    Recall notice Chrysler issued regarding the Davidson's Dodge Ram:

    Videotaped testimony of CarMax's Counsel before the California Assembly Business and Professions Committee:

    Video of entire hearing on SB 686 (Jackson):

    CarMax's letter of opposition to SB 686:
    1 “Recalled Used Cars Roam Roads as Legislation Stalls,” New York Times, front page, May 9, 2014, by RachelAdams and Christopher Jensen. (Emphasis added.)
    2 SB 686, authored by state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored by CARS. Due to opposition by CarMax, the California New Car Dealers Association and other independent auto dealers, SB 686 was defeated by a 3-4 vote, with 7 members refusing to vote (same as voting “no”).


    Stop auto dealers from playing
    "recalled used car roulette"

    Pass SB 686 (Jackson)
    Prevent car crash injuries and deaths
    Create over 1,000 new jobs for Californians
    flood vehicle
     Actor Damien Snow and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.
    A Nissan dealer in Southern California sold Damien Snow this unrepaired, recalled 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser with the same safety defect that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, as his first car, when he turned 18.
    California new and used car dealers keep getting caught selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers. News reports by the New York Times, Good Morning America, and many local TV stations throughout the state have documented case after case where dealers are putting their customers' lives at risk in unrepaired recalled used cars.

    At the same time, dealers are opposing legislation to stop this indefensible practice. Statewide polling found that a whopping 88% of California voters favor banning car dealers from selling recalled used cars. So -- who will legislators listen to? Multi-millionaire car dealers who schmooze with them and contribute campaign cash? Or California voters?   Make your voice heard -- tell Sacramento politicians to stop car dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers.

    Senator Boxer, Cally Houck (Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck) and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps. All major rental car companies took Sen. Boxer's pledge, and are now working with Cally Houck and CARS to enact federal safety legislation.
    Who is FOR this popular legislation? Consumer groups, safety organizations including SAFE KIDS California, State Farm Insurance Company (the nation's largest auto insurer), Hertz, Enterprise Rental Car Co., the Latino Business Association, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ((IAMAW), whose members include automotive technicians who perform safety recall repairs. According to the IAMAW, enactment of SB 686 will "create at least 1,000 new jobs for automotive technicians in California, performing safety recall repairs on the millions of vehicles that still have outstanding safety recalls pending."

    Read here: Who is for, and who is against, protecting the public from unsafe recalled used cars?

    California Car Dealers Caught on Camera
    Selling Recalled Used Cars
    Dealers selling used cars with open safety recalls
    Good Morning America
    April 2, 2014
    flood vehicle
     Credit: Good Morning America (ABC News)
    Good Morning America undercover investigation features Damien Snow of Beverly Hills, who bought a used 2004 PT Cruiser from a major franchised new car dealership in Los Angeles, when he turned age 18, as his first car. Before he bought it, Chrysler had issued a safety recall for that car, because it had the exact same defect that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck -- a power steering hose that was prone to igniting an under-hood fire, and causing a loss of steering. After Chrysler issued the safety recall, the PT Cruiser was owned by major new car dealerships for Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan. Then the Nissan dealership sold it to Damien. None of the dealerships bothered to get the safety recall repairs done.

    Good Morning America also finds car dealers selling unsafe, recalled used cars, claiming they are safe -- including the Chevy Cobalt with the ignition switch defect that led to GM's massive safety recall and hearings before the US House and Senate.

    Watch the story:

    Used car dealerships not getting recall repairs done
    KPIX - TV (CBS, San Francisco and Bay Area)
    May 13, 2014
    Fresno man nearly killed by "certified" Dodge Ram that literally fell apart on the freeway

    Click to watch the video report

    Priced to sell, but are recalled cars safe to drive?
    KTVU-TV (Fox, Oakland and Bay Area)
    May 12, 2014
    2 Investigates found vehicles with open safety recalls being sold at several Bay Area used car lots. They included vehicles with ignition switch recalls, recalls for power window switches that could catch fire and recalls for a tailgate that could break.

    Recalled cars for sale
    KOVR - TV (CBS, Channel 13, Sacramento)
    February 3, 2013
    Kurtis investigates
    KOVR News:   Call Kurtis finds unfixed, recalled cars on
    dealer lots
    "CBS13 took its hidden cameras to used dealership lots in Sacramento to find out how commonplace these open-recall cars really are. A CBS13 producer easily found a dozen recalled cars at the three used car lots randomly checked in Sacramento. We found a Honda CR-V with a potentially dangerous airbag, a Toyota 4Runner with an accelerator pedal that could get stuck, and a Chevrolet Cobalt with fuel part prone to leak — a potential fire hazard.

    Watch and read more:
    CBS 13 finds a dozen recalled cars on used car lots in Sacramento

    Used Cars Being Sold with Unfixed Safety Recalls
    KABC-7 Los Angeles
    December 3, 2012
    recalled cars on a lot in L.A.
    ABC Eyewitness News finds cars for sale with unfixed recalls
    "On a used car lot in Hawthorne recently, Eyewitness News found several cars that were for sale with unfixed recalls. One Cadillac Escalade had three unfixed recalls, a Nissan Altima had four and a Chevrolet Silverado had 15.

    Experts said some dealers do go the extra mile. "Many dealers will bring a used car up to speed on its recalls before they sell it and actually if they do it's a sign they take really good care of their cars and probably really good care of their customers," said Jeannine Fallon of

    The National Automobile Dealers Association said the responsibility is on vehicle owners and used car buyers to get recalls fixed. "To improve safety, The National Automobile Dealers Association urges vehicle owners to have recalled vehicles fixed as soon as possible," it said.

    Watch ABC News Report: ABC 7 Eyewitness News

    CARS asks -- So -- WHY buy from a dealer, when they don't even take care of safety recalls???

    Los Angeles Times: California bill would require recalled cars be repaired before sale
    By David Undercoffler and Jerry Hirsch
    May 13, 2014
    "Used cars that get recalled by manufacturers need to be fixed before they're sold. That's what a bill pending in the California Legislature would require of all new and used car dealers in the state. And with 2014 on pace to break the auto industry records for most recalls in a year, the bill is taking on more urgency, supporters said Tuesday at a news conference. A vast majority of those recalls involve older vehicles. "This bill is absolutely critical for consumer safety, it's good for the economy and it puts California at forefront for car safety," said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill's sponsor Her bill (SB 686) would prohibit new and used car dealerships — regardless of size — from selling a used vehicle "if the dealer knows or should have known" that it had been recalled by its manufacturer. The dealer would be required to have the issue fixed — a cost covered by the automaker — or sell it to another dealer."

    Read more: LA Times: California bill would require recalled cars be repaired before sale

    Los Angeles Times: OPINION
    When car recalls don't achieve what they're supposed to

    May 9, 2014
    "As the New York Times reports, the U.S. recall system has a significant gap with serious consequences for consumers....One would think that car dealers and resellers would, as vehicles pass through their hands, check to ensure that manufacturer recall repairs have been made. But there is no law compelling them to do so, The Times reports...."

    Read more: L.A. Times

    Safety Recalls Don't Keep Used Cars Off the Road
    National Public Radio -- Here and Now
    May 9, 2014
    by Robin Young and Paul Eisenstein

    With all the outrage about ignition problems in GM vehicles, you'd think that the last thing a dealer would want is a recalled, un-repaired car. But think again. Used car dealers and rental car agencies are not required by [a specific federal] law to fix vehicles that have been recalled for safety reasons....[ However, dealers are prohibited from deceptive sales of unsafe, recalled used cars under broader federal and state statutes, and under common law.]

    YOUNG: And we have been following this story in amazement. Do you find people shocked by this?

    EISENSTEIN: I think they are shocked. If they knew about this problem they would be even more shocked. I think a lot of people just expect that when they buy a car or rent a car, that it is as safe as possible. Meaning if there's been a recall it's been repaired.

    YOUNG: Well, in fact, we are reading in The New York Times today, which writes about this, that CarMax -- which is the country's biggest seller of used cars -- does have a certified quality inspection. But that doesn't include fixing recalls....

    EISENSTEIN: It's really curious isn't it? Because when you look at NADA, National Automobile Dealers Association website, you'll find a statement from them that essentially says they support a law that would call for the recall and repair of vehicles before they were sold by, on the used car site. And yet, NADA has been fighting the bill, so it's both sides of the mouth.

    They have all sorts of explanations for this, none of which are particularly good. Some of them say, Well, sometimes they say the law isn't written well and what have you.

    And then they claim, well, it would be an extra burden for them when that corner used car lot and the like, they don't have to be subject to these mandatory recalls.

    YOUNG: Well, but there - but...

    EISENSTEIN: It seems to be a pretty weak, weak explanation."

    Read More / Listen: "National Public Radio: Safety Recalls Don't Keep Used Cars Off the Road"

    Recalled GM cars still pose danger
    New York Times
    April 9, 2014
    By Rachel Adams and Hilary Stout
    "The rising debate over whether the cars pose a continuing danger reflects not only scattered episodes like Mr. Hughes’s accident but also a growing uncertainty and impatience about the timetable for repairs and the simple fact that for all the publicity...most of the unrepaired cars are on the road....

    Malisa Norman, a 35-year-old home health aide in Latta, S.C., was unaware of the recall when she bought a used 2007 Cobalt in February - days after the recall was announced.

    A few weeks later she was driving near her home when she says the car suddenly stopped running, veered off the road and hit a tree. The air bags did not deploy, and Ms. Norman says she and her 18-year-old son were injured in the accident.

    Ms. Norman purchased the car from E-Z Credit, a used-car dealership in Dillon, S.C. She said she was never told that her car had been recalled. She happened to have only a small angel ornament hanging from her key ring, but she said she had not been told there were any issues with items on a key chain. Drivers have been told by G.M. that extra weight on the car’s key ring can make a shutdown more likely.

    When she returned to the dealership to complain, Ms. Norman said she was told to watch the news for recall information.
    “I was like, ‘I didn’t get the car from the news,' ” she said. “Why should I get this from the news when I ain’t paying the news?”

    Read more:
    Debate Over Risk of Driving GM's Recalled Cars

    Texas ranks first in used cars sold with unfixed safety recalls
    February 3, 2014
    by Deanna Dewbury
    flood vehicle
    Texas ranks first in used cars sold with unfixed safety recalls.
    "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not 'have the legal authority to require used car dealers or individual consumers to have recalled vehicles fixed before resale,' the agency told the NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit...Last October, the DeSoto Fire Department rescued a family after a fire started in a pickup truck parked outside of the house and quickly spread to the home. 'I do really believe without DeSoto police department and fire department and the paramedics we would not be here,' said Rosalind O’Neal-Smith, who was rescued from the burning home along with husband and son....The pickup was a 2001 Ford F-150. ...investigators zeroed in on the cruise or speed control deactivation switch. The switch was the reason Ford recalled 16 million vehicles over a decade. Ford won’t discuss this specific case with us. The carmaker issued a recall for this truck one year before the Smiths bought it. And nobody ever fixed it."

    Watch the video and read the article at

    Auto dealers to California legislators:
    Don't stop us from selling, renting, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars
    to consumers
    Auto dealers and their lobbyists stalled popular, common-sense auto safety legislation in Sacramento aimed at stopping them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers. They complained that it's impossible for them to know whether the used cars they offer for sale to the public are subject to a federal safety recall. They told legislators that it's too much bother to check the safety recall status of used cars. They said it would take too much effort to get unsafe, defective used cars fixed, prior to sale -- even though the repairs are FREE. They also complained about having to delay sales if parts for repairing the safety defects are temporarily unavailable.

    Their lobbyists refused to answer pointed questions posed by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), a former lemon law attorney with decades of experience representing owners of unsafe lemon vehicles. He asked them: "You sell them to people? Is that what you do? You sell a car that you know may be unsafe to someone?"

    Dealer lobbyist: "But the part isn't available to fix. So is your suggestion..."

    Dickinson: "Wait, wait. No. Answer the question."
    Car dealers try to kill safety recall bill: caught on video

    Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the author of the measure, SB 686, spoke passionately about why it's important to ensure that used car buyers are provided the same protections afforded new car buyers. Under federal law, auto dealers are prohibited from dumping recalled NEW cars onto the public, until they're fixed, but there is no similar federal prohibition against dumping them on purchasers of USED cars. While there are broad, general federal and state statutes against engaging in such practices, some dealers continue to violate those laws. A more specific law that is easier to enforce is needed to get dealers to stop putting lives at risk by selling cars with lethal safety defects.

    Fe Lastrella testifies about the horrific crash that claimed the lives of her daughter, son, granddaughter, and son-in-law, and urges lawmakers to enact SB 686, to help prevent other families from suffering such tragic losses
    Tragically, even new car buyers are not safe. As Fe Lastrella of Vallejo, CA testified at the hearing, she lost four family members who were killed by an unsafe Lexus that Bob Baker Lexus in El Cajon, CA loaned to her son-in-law, CHP officer Mark Saylor. Earlier, he had purchased a new Lexus IS 250 sedan. On the fateful day of August 28, 2009, he dropped his new car off for repairs. The dealership loaned him a used 2009 Lexus ES 350. Three days earlier, another customer had complained that the Lexus had surged out of control. Yet the dealer failed to fix it.

    Later that day, Mark Saylor was riding with his wife Cleofe Lastrella Saylor, their daughter Mahala, age 13, and his brother-in-law Chris Lastrella enroute to a soccer game. The loaner Lexus accelerated out of control and sped down the freeway, reaching speeds of 120 mph. Chris Lastrella called 911. That call has now been heard around the world. He told the dispatcher that "our accelerator is stuck." He reported that "we're going 120" as the runaway loaner car approached an intersection, where the freeway ended. The killer car hit another car, crossed the curb, hit a dirt embankment, became airborne, and then rolled into a dry creek bed, where it burst into flames. All four perished. At the very end of the call, Chris's voice is heard telling his family to "hold on" and "pray, pray, pray."

    A car dealer in San Diego loaned this Lexus to CHP Officer Mark Saylor, while his new Lexus was being repaired. Hours later, he and his family were killed, when the loaner car accelerated out of control. Dealers argue that even if this car had been under a safety recall, it should be perfectly legal for the dealer to loan it out -- without getting the safety recall repairs done first. Credit: NBC San Diego
    Fe Lastrella, a retired school teacher, and her husband Cleto, who retired as a Command Master Chief from the U.S. Navy, lost their daughter, Cleofe, their son Chris, their granddaughter Mahala and son-in-law Mark Saylor in the crash.

    According to investigations by the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an oversized, rubber, all-weather floor mat was in the driver's side foot well of the loaner Lexus. The mat was designed for a Lexus sport-utility vehicle, an RX 400H, and was longer than the mats designed for the ES 350 sedan. The investigations found that the floor mat was fused to the accelerator pedal.

    Who is working to get the safety recall bill, SB 686, made into law?
    • Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (official sponsors, taking the lead in working with Sen. Jackson for enactment)
    • Senator Hannah Beth Jackson
      California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of SB 686, is working with CARS and other safety organizations to stop auto dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers
    • Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
    • California Public Interest Research Group
    • California Nurses Association
    • Center for Public Interest Law
    • Children's Advocacy Institute
    • Consumer Action
    • Consumer Attorneys of California
    • Consumers Union
    • Consumer Federation of America
    • Consumer Federation of California
    • Consumer Watchdog
    • Courage Campaign
    • Enterprise Holdings
    • Firefighters Burn Institute
    • Hertz Corporation
    • Latino Business Association
    • National Consumers League
    • State Farm Insurance Co.
    • Trauma Foundation
    • Retired New Car Dealer Salvatore Cerrito
    Who is trying to kill the safety recall bill?
    • Carmax
    • California New Car Dealers Association
    • California Chamber of Commerce (their current president, Fritz Hitchcock, is a mega-dealer in Southern California)
    • AutoNation (the country's largest auto dealership chain, which took in over $15.6 billion last year. AutoNation is based in Florida and owns many dealerships throughout California. One of AutoNation's largest investors is Bill Gates.)
    Senator Jackson vowed to keep on fighting to outlaw auto dealers from engaging in "recalled used car roulette." The soonest SB 686 can be revived is next January. Meanwhile, the smartest thing to do is NEVER trust a car dealer to make sure any car you buy is safe. They have testified that they don't have a clue, and it's too much bother to check.

    Should car dealers be allowed to sell, rent, or loan unsafe recalled used vehicles to consumers without bothering to get them fixed first?

    According to a recent California statewide poll, a whopping 88% of the public says NO.

    How can you get a good deal on a safe, reliable used car -- without having to set foot on a car dealer's lot? CARS tips

    More news coverage:
    Fatal Accident Sparks Debate at State Capitol
    ABC 30 KFSN-TV Fresno, CA

    Mother of Crash Victims Testifies in Support of Senate Bill
    Fox 5, San Diego

    Calif. Lawmakers slam brakes on used-car safety bill
    NBC - KCRA-TV Channel 3 Sacramento

    Bill spawned by CHP Officer's death stalls
    San Diego Union-Tribune report

    CA lawmakers vote to stop car dealers from playing "recalled car roulette"
    A dealer sold this used Ford Windstar to LaQuata Williams without getting the FREE safety recall repairs done, to repair the faulty axle.
    She and a friend were nearly killed when the axle broke and the van flipped over on the freeway.
    Used car buyers in California are one step closer to gaining new protections against auto dealers who sell used cars that are being recalled by the manufacturer -- without bothering to get them fixed, for free. Democratic members of the state's Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of outlawing car dealers from engaging in "recalled car roulette" -- endangering their customers' lives. The Democratic senators voted to pass legislation authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), despite opposition from the California New Car Dealers Association, the Independent Auto Dealers Association, and Carmax, whose lobbyists insisted that car dealers have no way to know when used cars are being recalled. Instead, they say that consumers are the ones who should have to find out about safety recalls, and get the cars fixed. So far, they haven't been able to explain why, if consumers can find out, dealers are so clueless.
    A typical buy here, pay here car lot
    LaQuata Williams was almost killed by a 2002 Ford Windstar that was recalled because the rear axle was prone to breaking.

    Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling NEW vehicles that are under a federal safety recall, but there is no similar federal law that specifically prohibits dealers from selling USED cars that have the same defects, and are under the same safety recall. While there are broad, general federal and state statutes against engaging in such practices, some dealers continue to violate those laws. A more specific law that is easier to enforce is needed to get dealers to stop putting lives at risk by selling cars with lethal safety defects.

    Former California auto dealer Salvatore Cerrito, who owned and managed many auto dealerships in Northern and Southern California for over 45 years, including dealerships for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Lincoln, Mercury, Chrysler/Jeep/Doge, Toyota, Honda, Nissan Mitsubishi, Hyundai, SAAB, Rolls Royce and Bentley, testified in favor of the bill. He pointed out to lawmakers that the only car dealers who don't seem able to find out about a used car's safety recall status are dealers who don't want to know.

    Sentators Boxer and Feinstein speaking together
    close-up of the broken axle on LaQuata Williams' Ford Windstar
    LaQuata Williams, a mom with three children, described her horrific experience. A used car dealer in Kansas sold her an unsafe, recalled 2002 Ford Windstar. She had explained that she has three children and she needed a vehicle that was safe and reliable. The dealer told her that the Windstar was just what she was looking for. She complained to the dealer that she heard a popping noise in the rear. She took it back to the dealer repeatedly for repairs to fix the noise. The dealer insisted that the Windstar was perfectly safe. Then while she was driving on the freeway, going about 65 mph, the axle broke. Suddenly she lost steering and the Windstar spun out and flipped over, nearly killing LaQuata and her boyfriend. Fortunately, her children weren't in the car, and both LaQuata and her boyfriend were wearing their seat belts. “It’s a miracle we weren’t severely injured or killed,” she said.

    The next day, LaQuata learned that Ford Windstars had been recalled due to breaking axles. She obtained the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for her Windstar and contacted Ford. The manufacturer said that there were two safety recalls pending -- including for the axle breaking. Carfax also noted the pending safety recalls in its report on her Windstar.

    CARS is spearheading efforts to change the law and get Senator Jackson's bill, SB 686, enacted.

    Read more: Call Kurtis: Senate Bill Addressing Recalled Cars Clears 1st Hurdle
    KOVR-TV (CBS, Sacramento)

    A typical buy here, pay here car lot
      Rosemary Shahan, president of CARS, tells Today Show
      about hazards of unsafe, recalled cars
    Today Show Investigation:
    Car dealers caught on camera
    selling unsafe, recalled used cars
    March 7, 2013
    The TODAY Show's Jeff Rossen, Josh Davis and their news team went undercover and found licensed auto dealers selling cars without bothering to get the safety recall repairs done first -- even though the repairs are FREE. First TODAY scoped out cars that are under a safety recall, for sale on car lots in the Midwest. Then they went on the lots and asked whether the cars were safe. So -- did the dealers told them the truth, without the cameras in sight? What do you think?

    Watch what happens when dealers are asked if an unfixed, recalled car is safe --
    Today Show: Rossen Reports: Hidden cameras reveal cars for sale with potentially deadly safety flaws

    Unsafe recalled cars can kill you, or your family. Even if you don't buy one. If the steering goes and the driver of an unrepaired, recalled car loses control, you are at risk -- even if you just happen to be nearby. Or if the brakes fail and a recalled SUV crashes into a car that your child is riding in. Last year, over 32,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Vehicle crashes are the #1 killers of people under the age of 34. For most people, the riskiest thing they do on a regular basis is to drive a car, or ride in one. Our highways are already risky places. The last thing we need is for vehicles with known safety defects to be on the roads.

    Sentators Boxer and Feinstein speaking together
      Today Show investigative reporter Jeff Rossen confronts
      auto dealer caught selling recalled vehicle on his lot
    So it's important to get recalled cars fixed -- pronto. Last year, over 16 million vehicles were recalled due to defects like -- catching on fire, brake failure, cruise control that goes haywire, axles that break apart, and other life-threatening defects. Most owners got their cars fixed -- but millions didn't, and traded them in at dealerships across the U.S. where they are ticking automotive time bombs.

    Polling shows overwhelming public support for ensuring that vehicles are safe and recall repairs are performed -- before vehicles are rented or sold.

    CARS is spearheading efforts to get unsafe, recalled used cars fixed -- BEFORE people are hurt. Were you sold an unsafe, recalled car? We want to hear from you. Here's how to get in touch --

    Where's the best place to check for safety recalls? Check out the manufacturer's website, call their toll-free number, or call a local dealer that sells the same make and model. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also started a program to alert car owners by email about new safety recalls -- before you get a letter from the manufacturer. Here's where to register to get email notices from NHTSA, the nation's leading auto safety agency:

    Recalled used vehicles up for sale
    CBS Early Show
    CBS Early Show: A dealer sold Tabitha Gordon a recalled Dodge that caught on fire.
    " 'Early Show' Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen says there is a potential danger with used cars that you may not even think about -- recalls....when she went shopping, she found plenty of recalled cars for sale across the country... With hidden cameras rolling, Koeppen visited used car dealers in Arlington, Va., New York City and Dallas, looking for cars that were part of safety recalls, but had never been fixed. A Dodge Durango in New York is under two recalls because of problems that can cause fires.

    A dealer in Oklahoma sold Tabitha Gordon a used Durango in 2009. She was driving with her son, Kaden, when the lights, wipers and locks went haywire. Gordon said of the incident, "I felt like I was in a twilight zone. ... The plastic that covers the speedometer had popped, and smoke started billowing into the vehicle." She managed to pull over and get Kaden out as the car caught on fire. Koeppen said it turns out Gordon was sold a car that had been recalled for an electrical defect. Michael Linn, with the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group that represents used car dealers, says the recall issue is a concern. But, he says, it's difficult for dealers to learn about recalls in the first place. "They aren't easy to find, even if you do find some source somewhere through the Internet, you still won't know whether that recall was totally accurate," he said. Koeppen pointed out she and her team had no problem tracking down recall information or recalled cars for sale.

    So what do you do to protect yourself before buying a used car? Koeppen said, "You need to take it upon yourself to check the car. Take the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, and either go to the manufacturer's website or call the manufacturer's 1-800 number. With that VIN, they'll be able to tell you if the vehicle is under a recall or has had its fix."

    Watch CBS Early Show report:

    text resize Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size

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    save lives, prevent injuries, and
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    to everyone who has supported CARS' work, including the more than 589,000 people who have contributed financially
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    Follow us on Twitter
    Here are the two tweets Twitter censored:


    Read more at American Prospect:
    "What's Up With Twitter's Content Moderation Policies?"  

    CarMax sells cars with
    deadly safety recall defects.
    ABC's 20/20 went undercover and caught
    CarMax up to their sneaky tricks.
    More than 730,000 viewers have watched this video clip on CARS' YouTube channel
    Help save lives -- share the link!

    Take Action
    Sign C.A.R.S.' petition (so far, signed
    by over 117,000 people like you):
    Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe,
    recalled cars to consumers
    Take Action

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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
    right next to Mossy Toyota's car lot,
    and read more about how Jon finally won.

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