Newer, cleaner, safer cars for low-income consumers = win-win-win for CA

Think it would take a miracle for California, the state that’s home to 7 out of 10 of the nation’s smoggiest cities, to clean up our air, improve public health, reduce vehicle fatalities and injuries, and help struggling low-income families gain new mobility and transform their lives — all without busting our newly re-balanced budget?

According to experts at the respected San Francisco-based environmental think tank Next Generation, not only is it possible to achieve all those ambitious goals, it’s well within reach.  According to their new report,  “No Californian Left Behind: Clean and Affordable Transportation Options for All through Vehicle Replacement,” carefully targeted vehicle replacement programs hold promise for low-income consumers and their families, and for the entire state.

Check out these facts, from the report:

  • “Right now, hundreds of thousands of Californians drive cars and trucks that are old, inefficient, unsafe, and cause a disproportionate share of the state’s air pollution. Older cars weren’t manufactured to the same stringent smog standards as today’s new cars, and many are in a poor state of repair that compounds their impact on human health. As a result, state agencies estimate that 10­–15 percent of the state’s light-duty vehicles emit over half of the smog from the passenger fleet.”
  • ” In some particularly car-dependent areas of California, it’s estimated that transportation costs exceed a third of area median incomes.”
  • “In the event of an accident, the driver of a pre-1993 vehicle is over 75 percent more likely to suffer fatal injury than the driver of a six year-old or newer vehicle.”

Next Gen experts also make detailed policy recommendations for how to maximize the benefits of vehicle replacement programs for consumers and the environment.

Want to know what California can do to speed up replacing our aging vehicle fleet with newer, cleaner, safer vehicles?  READ MORE:

No Californian Left Behind: Clean and Affordable Transportation Where It’s Needed Most




GM delayed Cobalt safety recall, while fatalities mounted

General Motors issued a rare apology, after being hit with a barrage of news reports about faulty ignition switches in the popular Chevy Cobalt, that led to at least 13 deaths. GM engineers first discovered the defect in 2004.

Merely jostling the key in the ignition could lead the car to shut down, including disabling the air bags. But for years, GM denied that any defect existed and failed to issue a safety recall. Instead, the company merely issued a “technical service bulletin,” while their customers continued to die.

The defect means that at the very moment when drivers and passengers need the lifesaving protection air bags provide — in the milliseconds after a crash — the air bags would not inflate.

Twenty-nine year old Brooke Melton of Georgia was killed when she was driving to her boyfriend’s house. A 16-year-old died in a crash in Maryland when the ignition switch turned off and the air bag failed to deploy.

Buyer beware: NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done — for FREE.

Plus — dealers are blocking legislation in Washington, DC and in California to stop them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, until they’ve been repaired.

CARS’ tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers play “used car roulette” with customers’ lives — and oppose legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car? We want to hear your story. Contact CARS


GM issues safety recall over faulty ignition switches

General Motors is recalling nearly 780,000 compact cars in the US and Canada due to a faulty ignition switch. The switch can make the engine shut off without warning, causing a crash. The recalled vehicles are 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G-5s.

GM has acknowledged that 6 people have died in 22 crashes, linked to the problem.

Even something as simple as riding on rough roads or having other keys on the key ring can trigger the ignition switch to move out of the “run” position, cutting off both the engine and electrical power.

As required under federal law, GM will replace the ignition switches for free, through their franchised car dealers. However, it remains to be seen when the dealers will obtain sufficient parts to perform the safety recall repairs.

Meanwhile, GM is urging owners of the recalled vehicles to remove other items from the key rings for the ignition keys, pending repairs.

NOTE: If you are shopping for a used car, NEVER trust the dealer to ensure that the safety recall repairs have been performed. Dealers keep being caught selling unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers — including so-called “certified” used cars.

Plus — dealers are actively opposing legislation in Washington, DC and in California that would prohibit them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed first.

CARS’ tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers playing “used car roulette” with customers’ lives — and opposing legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car?  We want to hear your story.  Contact CARS





Auto dealers: sly gambit vs. Hillary Clinton

According to Automotive News, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention in New Orleans, she received several standing ovations.

So —  what did the car dealers association choose to feature on YouTube?

Not the ovations, but two moments during her speech when Clinton openly admitted she hadn’t driven a car since 1996, and spoke about her biggest regret — the tragic losses at Benghazi..

Disgraced former Republican House Speaker and current CNN commentator Newt Gingrich immediately seized on her remarks to try to embarrass West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who faces a tough fight for re-election this fall.

Newt Gingrich is closely allied with auto dealers, who give most of their millions in campaign cash to Republicans. See for yourself how he smirks over Hillary Clinton’s self-deprecating remarks:

Newt Gingrich seizes on Hillary Clinton’s remarks at national auto dealer conference

Car dealers select these moments in Hillary Clinton’s speech to post on YouTube










Graco recalls child safety seats

Graco Children’s Products announced that it’s recalling almost 3.8 million car seats because faulty buckles can stick, leaving children trapped. Some parents have had to cut the straps in order to get their children out of the seats. In addition to being a pain to deal with, the child seats pose a serious hazard to infants and children if the vehicle is in a crash or catches fire.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the recall does not include an additional 1.8 million Graco child seats that have the same buckles, and should also be recalled and repaired. NHTSA has indicated that if Graco does not recall the rest of the affected seats, the agency may take legal action to force a wider recall.

The seats in the recall are the 2009 to 2013 model years of the Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite and Argos 70.

Read more: New York Times: Graco recalls child safety seats

WARNING!! Unfortunately, you can’t trust car dealers to make sure that safety recalls are performed before they sell you a used car. Dealers keep getting caught selling unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, claiming they’re perfectly safe, when they are not. Dealers are opposing legislation in Congress and in California that would help protect car buyers and their families from unsafe, recalled automobiles.

Read more:  Car dealers play “Used Car Roulette” with customers’ lives

FTC takes action against 9 car dealers over “deceptive” ads

In a rare move, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently zeroed in on how auto dealers sell, finance, and lease both new and used motor vehicles. The agency called their nationwide sweep “Operation Steer Clear.”

As a result of the FTC’s taking action, nine auto dealers agreed to settle deceptive advertising charges.  The agency alleged that the dealers made a variety of false claims in print, Internet, and video advertisements that violated the FTC Act, deceiving the public about the actual costs of purchasing, leasing, or financing vehicles. One dealer even advertised that consumers had won prizes they could collect at the dealership — only to find, when they arrived on the lot, they had not won.

“Buying or leasing a car is a big deal, and car ads are an important source of information for serious shoppers,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Dealers’ ads need to spell out costs and other important terms customers can count on. If they don’t, dealers can count on the FTC to take action.”

According to the FTC, the agency’s ‘Operation Steer Clear’ led to settlements with these dealerships in California:

Casino Auto Sales of La Puente, CA and Rainbow Auto Sales of South Gate, CA. Both allegedly violated the FTC Act by “deceptively advertising that consumers could purchase vehicles at specific low prices when, in fact, the price was $5,000 higher. Both dealers’ ads involved a mix of English and Spanish.

Honda of Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, and Norm Reeves Honda of Cerritos, CA, violated the FTC Act by deceptively advertising that consumers could pay $0 up-front to lease a vehicle when, in fact, the advertised amounts excluded substantial fees and other amounts. The ads also allegedly violated the Consumer Leasing Act (CLA) and Regulation M, by failing to disclose certain lease related terms. Norm Reeves Honda’s ads also allegedly violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z, by failing to disclose certain credit related terms.

The FTC also settled similar cases with dealerships in Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Michigan, and Texas. The Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs and the Michigan Department of Attorney General assisted the agency by investigating dealers in those states.

The FTC deserves credit for focusing on harmful auto dealer practices, including at politically potent new car dealerships.  However, no dealer agreed to pay a fine or any restitution to victims. Instead, the dealers agreed to behave better in the future.

The public is invited to comment to the FTC about the settlements, until Feb. 10.

Read more:  FTC Announces settlements with auto dealers



2011 – 2012 Ford Explorers recalled due to steering defects

Ford Motor Company is recalling 300 model year 2011-2012 Explorers equipped with steering gear replacement parts that were installed in September 2013 and January 2014. The  gears may lock, resulting in steering loss and an increased risk of being in a crash.

As required by federal law, Ford will notify owners about the safety recall. Ford dealers will replace the defective steering gears with new steering gears, free of charge to the owners of the Explorers.

The recall was expected to begin on January 24, 2014. Customers who have questions may contact Ford at 1-800-392-3673. Ford’s number for this recall is #13S14. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to:

 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

If you are shopping for a used Explorer, NEVER trust the dealer to tell you whether or not this safety recall has been performed.  Lobbyists for new and used car dealers claim they cannot tell if a car is safe or not, and say it’s too much bother to check safety recalls prior to selling a used car to the public.

They also say that if there is a delay in getting repair parts, they should be able to sell the unsafe car to a consumer, rather than having to wait until the repairs have been performed.

Want to see for yourself what dealers have to say about their right to sell unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers?  Check out YouTube video from official CA legislative hearing:

car dealer lobbyists trying to kill auto safety legislation