Dealers not obligated to fix used cars under recall

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 08:33:24-04

Walk into a car dealership, and you'll see some vehicles with a highlighted sticker, which lets customers know if the used vehicle has recalled parts.

Car dealership customer Mae Gerweck said, "I think it's very good. I think you need to know."

Earl Stewart, owner of Earl Stewart Toyota, said the public needs to know what they are buying, especially if there's a recall that could affect your safety.

"We've had an explosion of recalls over the past few years.  I've been in the business for close to 50 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said Stewart. "The straw that broke the camel's back was the Takata airbags." 

Stewart said we should be knowledgeable. But it will take some effort by car buyers, especially since there's no federal requirement that mandates that dealers fix used vehicles with recalls before they are sold.

The public can find out if a used vehicle is recalled through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, using the vehicle identification number.

"You will find out within a few seconds if the car has a safety recall, a GM ignition or a Takata air bag or whatever," said Stewart.

He wanted to know if dealers were even telling customers about recalled used cars, so he did an anonymous survey of two dozen car dealerships.

"We called the dealerships to find out about a car, and specifically asked the question, does this vehicle have any open safety recalls. Twenty-three out of the 24 dealers said 'no," said Stewart.

It's a wake-up call for all of us.

"Just be careful, check your car. The car dealers won't do it for you. You need to take responsibility, buyer beware," said Stewart.

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to see if your vehicle has been recalled.