5 Investigates: Dealers selling used cars with open safety recalls

5 Investigates: Dealers selling used cars with open safety recalls


PROBLEM. KATHY CURRAN SPEAKS WITH ONE WOMAN WHOSE CAR BURST INTO FLAMES WHILE SHE WAS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT.>>IT COULD HAVE HAD DISASTROUS RESULTS. KATHY: BONNIE’S SENSE OF SAFETY IN HER NEW CHRYSLER MINIVAN WENT UP IN SMOKE WHEN HER DRIVER’S SIDE ARM REST BURST INTO FLAMES AS SHE WAS CRUISING DOWN THE ROAD.>>BUT I’M LIKE, OH, MY GOD, WHY IS THERE SMOKE COMING OUT OF THE DOOR OF MY CAR? KATHY: SMOKE FILLED THE INSIDE OF HER 2013 TOWN & COUNTRY SHE BOUGHT IN MILFORD. A FAULTY WINDOW SWITCH WAS TO BLAME. SAFETY RECALLS FROM CHRYSLER SOUNDED THE WARNING THAT THE SWITCH COULD OVERHEAT AND CATCH FIRE, BUT THE PROBLEM WAS NEVER REPAIRED. BONNIE DROPPED ALMOST $18,000 ON THE CAR, DROVE IT OFF THE LOT, AND HAD NO IDEA ABOUT THE DANGEROUS THREAT INSIDE.>>YOU FEEL BETRAYED. ABSOLUTELY. I MEAN, WHEN YOU’RE GETTING A CAR, YOU SHOULD HAVE A RELATIVE AMOUNT OF FAITH THAT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY MAJOR PROBLEMS. KATHY: THE DEALERSHIP SAID THEY DIDN’T KNOW THIS MINIVAN HAD AN OPEN SAFETY RECALL. THEY SAY THEY RAN A VEHICLE HISTORY REPORT AND IT CAME BACK CLEAN. THEY TELL US THEY NORMALLY REPAIR RECALLS OR NOTIFY THEIR CUSTOMERS ABOUT THEM, BUT THEY ADMIT THEY NEVER ACTUALLY CHECK THEIR CARS FOR OPEN RECALLS ON THE FEDERAL SAFETY WEBSITE THAT TRACKS THEM. THERE’S NO FEDERAL LAW PREVENTING THE SALE OF USED CARS WITH OPEN RECALLS. BUT STATE LAW AS SEEN ON THE CONTRACT DOES SAY CARS MUST BE FIT TO BE DRIVEN SAFELY. THE CASE IS AT THE HEART OF AN ISSUE 5 INVESTIGATES EXPOSED BACK IN 2015 IN OUR UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION. DEALERSHIPS, INCLUDING USED CAR GIANT CAR MAX, SELLING CARS WITH UNFIXED SAFETY RECALLS THEY’RE RECALLS CAR MAX SAID IT DISCLOSED. ALMOST TWO YEARS LATER, CONSUMER WATCHDOG GROUP SAYS THERE ARE MORE CARS THAN EVER ON CAR MAX’S LOTS WITH UNFIXED SAFETY DEFECTS. >>DRIVING IS ALREADY — POSES A pNUMBER OF RISKS. AND TO MAKE THAT EVEN RISKIER BY ALLOWING THE SALE OF UNSAFE CARS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. KATHY: ON ONE DAY 28% OF THE CAR MAX VEHICLES THAT WERE CHECKED FOR SALE IN MASSACHUSETTS HAD OPEN RECALLS. THIS TRUCK HAD SIX, INCLUDING PROBLEMS THAT COULD INCREASE THE RISK OF A CRASH OR ENGINE FIRE. >>WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT MAYBE THE TIRES WERE BALD. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A FEDERALLY MANDATED SAFETY RECALL THAT POSES SIGNIFICANT RISKS TO THAT DRIVER AND ANYBODY WHO SHARES THE ROADWAY WITH THAT CAR. KATHY: ON THEIR WEBSITES, THE DEALERSHIP AND CAR MAX BOTH POINT OUT THAT THEIR VEHICLES MAY HAVE OPEN SAFETY RECALLS AND OFFER LINKS TO THE FEDERAL SAFETY WEBSITE TO CHECK THEM. CAR MAX SAYS THEY REVIEW RECALLS AND HAVE CUSTOMERS SIGN OFF ON THEM AT THE TIME OF SALE.>>IS DISCLOSING THE FACT THAT THESE CARS MAY HAVE A SAFETY RECALL GOOD ENOUGH?>>THAT FAILS CONSUMERS.>>AT THE VERY LEAST, THEY SHOULD INFORM YOU THAT THERE’S OPEN RECALLS. THAT WAY YOU CAN DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO PURCHASE A VEHICLE WITH OPEN SAFETY RECALLS ON IT. KATHY: CAR MAX SAYS THEY DON’T BRING CARS TO BE REPAIRED. THEY BELIEVE DEALERS WILL DO A MORE TIMELY RECALL REPAIR FOR CUSTOMERS RATHER THAN A COMPETITOR LIKE CAR MAX.

About the Author: Michael Flood

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