Lobbyists Said to Help Get Recalled Cars Resold
Some six years after defective Takata airbags caused accidents that claimed at least a handful of lives and put millions of drivers at risk, car makers are still trying to adequately fix problems with many of the safety devices. Now a new report details how used car dealers are employing an army of lobbyists to make it easier to put cars with those same exploding airbags in them back on the road.
Legislation has been introduced in at least 11 states that would allow used car dealers to sell recalled cars without fixing the defects, according to USA Today. Dealers would simply have to disclose the recall by burying it somewhere in a mountain of paperwork signed by a buyer at the time of the purchase.
The laws have already been passed in Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Supporters of the legislation say it will safeguard buyers by requiring sellers to disclose the recalls. But USA Today—in conjunction with the Center for Public Integrity and the Arizona Republic—found that the model bill on which the laws are based was written by the Automotive Trade Association Executives, a lobbying group that represents auto dealers.
Here’s how USA Today explains the situation:
“Consumer advocates say the bill is a cynical ploy: It requires the bare minimum of responsible behavior on the part of auto dealers – to disclose open recalls to customers – while leaving out any requirement for them to actually fix the defects that led to the recalls.”
A version of the bill that was introduced in California in 2015 was watered down before becoming law. It doesn’t give dealers the legal right to sell recalled cars without fixing defects first.
Takata Saga Continues
The report comes as exploding Takata airbags continue to pose a risk to everyone on the road.
Carmakers have recalled some 37 million vehicles with Takata airbags since 2013. The recalls came after reports of airbags deploying unexpectedly, exploding and sending shards of shrapnel, metal and glass into the vehicles without warning. Takata was ordered to pay $1 billion to settle Justice Department claims that it failed to warn consumers of the problem. The company later filed for bankruptcy and was sold.
That wasn’t the end of the story. Honda in March said it was recalling another 1.1 million vehicles over concerns airbags could explode if they’re deployed during a crash. Although those airbags were already recalled, the company said they’re still defective.
How the California Lemon Law Protects Buyers, Lessors
The good news for car buyers and lessors in California is that state law provides some important legal protections when it comes to defective vehicles. The California lemon law requires a car manufacturer to fix airbag problems and other defects while the vehicle is under warranty. If repair attempts aren’t successful, the manufacturer has to take the car back and reimburse the owner/lessor or replace the vehicles.
The California Lemon Law lawyers at the Bickel Law Firm have decades of combined legal experience and have represented hundreds of clients in defective vehicle cases across the state. Our offices are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.