According to Consumer Reports, federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling a new car that has an active recall if the repairs have not been completed. There is no comparable law for used cars. As a result, used cars frequently are sold to unsuspecting consumers without those consumers being aware there is a ticking time bomb in the car that is putting their life in jeopardy.
New York Times reported recently on the serious problems that can result in people buy used cars that have active, unrepaired recalls. Deaths and serious injuries can occur, shattering the lives of those drivers who had no idea their car was even in need of a fix.
One tragedy which occurred due to a used car being sold with an unrepaired recall happened after a 26-year-old man bought his mother a used car. He purchased the car from a man he had met while playing pool. Unbeknownst to him, the car had a defective Takata airbag. More than 20 notices had been sent out about the problem since it was discovered in 2008 that the driver's side airbag could rupture. The 26-year-old car buyer, however, was not aware that the car had a problem.
The car had been resold at least three times since the 2008 recall, including at auctions in 2010 and 2015. Its new 50-year-old driver did not know this. She was driving the car to get a flu shot and her car hit a pickup truck. The car accident was a fender bender, but the airbag exploded violently and took her life. The Takata airbag had actually become much more dangerous over time, as the older the airbag is, the more likely it is to violently explode due to the degradation of its components.
This is just one of many similar stories that happen throughout the country every day because people drive cars they don't know have problems. The market for used cars is actually bigger than the market for new cars, with 38 million used cars sold across the U.S. last year. Yet, efforts to require fixes before used cars with active recalls can be sold have stalled in congress under pressure from used car dealers.
Those who sell these used vehicles should take responsibility to get them fixed, or at least to warn consumers that there is an active recall and the car needs to be repaired. Unless the law changes or dealers begin to take more responsibility, tragic deaths are going to keep happening.
When a death or a serious injury does occur due to a vehicle defect, it is important for victims to understand who is responsible for providing compensation for damages. An attorney can help to answer this complicated question when a car with an active recall has changed hands many times before the fatal accident occurred.