Vehicle recall: when a car model has a safety-related defect, or doesn’t meet the minimum safety standards, the carmaker (or sometimes, the government) issues a recall to alert the vehicles’ owners.
When the defect is found, car companies have 60 days to notify owners. The carmaker’s dealerships are supposed to repair the problem, usually for free.
Right now, about 20% of cars and trucks in the U.S. have been recalled for safety and design problems. In Oregon alone, about 500,000 vehicles have open – unrepaired – recalls.
Recalls: a big problem for used-car buyers
A car dealership can’t legally sell you a new car with an open safety recall. The defective part(s) on the vehicle has to be repaired before you can buy it.
But there is no law to stop a car dealership—or anyone else —from selling you a used car with an open recall.
Most consumers don’t know that a car dealership is not required to fix any recalled parts on a used car before you can buy it.
The dealership may not even know if there are any safety defects on the car you want to buy. They don’t have to check for recalls.
And if they do know of an open recall, they don’t have to tell car buyers.
Some dealerships do check all of their pre-owned vehicles for recalls, and certify that any repairs have been completed. Many don’t. That is unlikely to change any time soon, because it’s a big problem for national used-car dealerships chains like Carmax. They likely have millions of recalled cars and trucks on lots across the country.
Not all recalls affect a vehicle’s safety or drivability. Some may even sound like very minor problems. But ignoring a defective part can result in a much more serious problem throughout the life of that vehicle.
This also applies to rental cars. Click here to find out more.