More than 70 million vehicles on the road with open recalls pose a significant highway safety danger.
“While these open recalls present a clear hazard to the occupants of these vehicles, they are also a hazard to the rest of the driving public,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s executive director and author of "The Car Book."
The high number of open recalls means that a significant number of owners are “turning in” used cars with an open recall or those vehicles may be recalled by the manufacturer while waiting to be resold.
Some car dealerships are violating state laws that prohibit them from selling unsafe vehicles, particularly when they are subject to a safety recall. The result: A significant number of used vehicles are likely to be sold with open recalls. While the subsequent owner can have any recall addressed at no charge for 15 years from when the recall was issued, they may not know about the recalls or fail to check their particular vehicle. They may also experience lengthy delays in being able to obtain repairs due to severe shortages of repair parts or the manufacturer’s failure to provide a remedy.
The automobile recall program is one of the government’s most important auto safety functions, but to be truly effective, recall completion rates must be dramatically increased.
“It’s simply not enough to announce a recall; the car companies, car dealers and government must do everything possible to remedy those recalls,” said Gillis. “Under federal law, car dealers can’t sell new cars with open recalls, and under state laws, car dealers are not allowed to sell recalled used cars either. But those laws are not being adequately enforced. With today’s communication technology, social media and information databases, there is no excuse not to significantly increase compliance with safety recalls.”
The entire auto industry, all levels of government and individual consumers each have an important role to play in ensuring that safety recalls are performed. The huge rental car industry must acknowledge and respect the importance of recalls, as should the rest of the automotive use and retail industry.