Supply shortages have boosted the price tag on new wheels and sent many car buyers turning their attention to the market for used vehicles. If you are one of them, here is what you need to know: Many used car dealer’s lots are stocked with vehicles that have serious defects posing significant safety risks.
That is right. Used car dealers generally do not have to disclose that their vehicles have been recalled for safety defects, even if the defect has not been fixed.
No less than 40% of used cars being sold in the U.S. are covered by at least one open recall that has not been addressed, according to research from the non-profit organization Consumers’ Checkbook and the Consumer Federation of America.
Car manufacturers are required to issue recalls for certain malfunctions. They are also obligated by law to fix those problems at no cost to owners. The defects for which manufacturers recall cars run a wide gamut that frequently includes engine fire risks, unexpected stalling and faulty airbags and other safety equipment.
The problem is that carmakers routinely do not alert car owners of recalls until long after vehicles have left factory floors and been sold. Cars often have changed hands more than once before a recall is even announced.
Federal legislation that would require used car dealers to address open recalls before they can sell the vehicles has stalled in the nation’s capital. That leaves buyers in California and elsewhere across the country largely to fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, more and more shoppers are looking to the used market for cars. New cars are in short supply as a result of the ongoing chip shortage and supply chain issues. That, in turn, has spiked demand for used vehicles and caused price tags on previously owned cars to skyrocket.
Used car buyers should beware: Do not buy a vehicle without first checking if it is subject to an open recall. Go in person to get the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the 17- character number listed on the left side of the windshield and on the registration card. You can search the NHTSA website for recalls by VIN, as well as by the make, model and year.
Know Your Legal Rights
Car owners in California have some valuable rights under the state’s lemon law. They do not need to wait for recalls to get defects and malfunctions fixed.
The lemon law generally requires car manufacturers to perform a wide range of repairs on vehicles while they are under warranty. It also forces the companies to buy back (or replace, in some cases) cars that they cannot or will not fix.
Speak with a Los Angeles Lemon Law Attorney
If you have been stuck with a defective vehicle, a Los Angeles lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help. We have a strong track record of success fighting for people and families across the state.