A “Certified” Used Car May Be Hiding Something

The safety issues surrounding Takata airbags have been prominently featured in the news. Subject to violent explosions that spray metal shards into the passenger cabin, the airbags are responsible for at least 11 deaths and 180 injuries. A massive recall has resulted, impacting 42 million vehicles and over 64 million airbags. If you were buying a previously owned vehicle that was equipped with one of these dangerous airbags, you would be told, right? The unfortunate answer is “not necessarily.” Used vehicles are big business, with some having had multiple owners. Over 38 million used vehicles were sold in 2015, up from 36 million in the prior year. Certified preowned (CPO) vehicles accounted for 22.4% of all used sales in the retail market, an increase of 9.1% over 2014. A CPO vehicle is put through a rigorous, multi-point inspection that repairs any damaged or worn parts before it is offered for sale. Incredibly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently issued a ruling that allows vehicles to be advertised as certified even if they are the subjects of unaddressed safety recalls. In December, the FTC decreed that two major used-car chains and General Motors (manufacturer of Chevy, Cadillac, GMC, and other brands) did not have to tell buyers that there were specific recalls pending on certified vehicles or fix the problems before selling the vehicles. The dealers are required to disclose only that the vehicles “could be” subjected to recalls and how that information can be found. This ruling seems contrary to the whole point of offering a used car as certified, which occupies “a unique spot within the auto industry as a placeholder between new and traditional used sales.” There is concern that the ruling could set a precedent of “buyer beware” that other used car retailers may adopt. The president of the group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety remarked that the ruling “is the worst thing the FTC has ever done on any issue because it is allowing false advertising.” It certainly is in direct contrast to the platform of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which calls for car dealers make recall repairs on vehicles before offering them for sale. While it’s true that many recalled products are never returned or repaired, the risk posed by defective cars is more substantial than most. Research has shown that if a repair is going to be made, it is usually done within the first 18 months after a recall is posted. After that time, the likelihood drops significantly, leaving as many as one-third of all recalled cars unrepaired and out on the road. Curious about whether your car has any open recalls? The NHSTA provides an online tool that consumers can use to access the general recall databases of most vehicle manufacturers. Owners who can provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can get information going back 15 years about whether their specific vehicle was part of a safety recall and not repaired. For over 15 years, the Johnson Law Firm has been helping injured consumers put their lives back on track. We have successfully represented victims throughout Kentucky who have been seriously hurt by defective products as well as families who have lost loved ones to defective cars and trucks. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with us at 1-855-433-7534 or through our online form.

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