National Automobile Dealers Association in denial about safety

The President of the National Automobile Dealers Association, Colorado car dealer Jeff Carlson, claims that only 6% of recalled vehicles are “hazardous.” That means he thinks that cars like this one, that killed a 17-year-old Texas teenager, are NOT “hazardous.”

ABC News report: 17-year-old killed by exploding Takata air bag

Try telling that to her family.

That also means that he doesn’t consider any of these defects, which have killed and maimed many car drivers and their passengers, to be “hazardous”:

  • Stalling in traffic
  • Catching on fire
  • Faulty brakes
  • Steering loss
  • Seat belts that fail in a crash
  • Axles that break
  • Hoods that fly up while you’re driving in traffic
  • Sticking accelerator pedals
  • GM ignition switches that turn off and eliminate power steering and braking, and cause air bags to fail to deploy

Automotive News report: Carlson vows to press NADA’s fight against regulation

Bottom line: Carlson and NADA cannot be trusted to decide whether a car is safe to sell. When it comes to safety, they are absolutely clueless. And a real danger to American society.

CarMax – still selling unsafe cars with lethal safety defects

CarMax is the nation’s largest retailer of used cars. Unlike some of its competitors, it has a policy of deliberately selling its customers vehicles that it knows are unsafe. Consumers who buy cars from CarMax risk being sold cars with defects that have caused tragic deaths and injuries.  Defects like stalling in traffic, catching on fire, faulty brakes, air bags that spew metal fragments that cause blindness or bleeding to death, seat belts that fail in a crash, axles that break, steering loss, rolling away while supposedly parked, hoods that fly up in traffic, sticking accelerator pedals, and other dangerous defects.

Please warn your family and friends.  Check out these TV reports to find out more about how CarMax is deceiving and tricking people into buying unsafe cars — putting them and their families at risk, and endangering the lives of others who share the roads.

ABC’s 20/20’s investigative report

WCVB 5 Boston report

 

 

 

 

Buy a car, go to jail

California is on the brink of enacting an automotive Catch-22 that will cause more people to be pulled over by police and ticketed. For what? The crime of having expired  temporary license tags on their cars.  Even if they haven’t received their permanent license plates, through no fault of their own.

California allows car buyers only 90 days to put on their permanent plates. With NO exceptions. So — what happens when car dealers fail to submit the registration forms and go out of business, leaving dozens of consumers in the lurch? Or when the Department of Motor Vehicles messes up? Or when the plates are sent to the wrong address, or stolen?  YOU are out of luck.

In fact, the law says you have to put the plates on as soon as you get them, or within 90 days, whichever comes first. But what if you don’t get them within 90 days?  Tough. Try calling the DMV and the dealer. Good luck with that. And here’s the kicker: There is NO law that requires car dealers to ensure that the plates are sent to you within the 90 days. Gotcha. Catch-22.

If the dealer fails to submit the registration, YOU are subject to being pulled over and ticketed. If you get too many tickets, your car can be impounded.

What if you get desperate and alter the expiration date on the temporary tag, so you can get to work without being pulled over, while you try to get your permanent plates?  The bill would make altering a temporary tag a new FELONY offense, punishable by hefty fines and imprisonment of 2-3 years.

One hapless consumer bought a car from a major franchised new car dealership in Southern California. The dealer failed to submit the registration forms.  As a result, the car buyer got so many tickets, his car was impounded. He paid off all the tickets. But he was still unable to get his car back because the dealer still failed to submit the proper documentation so it could be registered. Until it was registered, he couldn’t get it back. He eventually sued the dealer and according to his attorney, he won. But should you have to file a lawsuit just to get back your own car?

The bill number is AB 516, and the author is Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-Burlingame). The bill is backed by — surprise!! — car dealers. Plus toll authorities, who stand to increase toll collections by millions of dollars.

Mullin’s bill is opposed by civil rights and consumer groups, including the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area writes:  “LLCR recently published, in collaboration with other groups, a report entitled Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California, which shows the many ways that low-income California drivers, and particularly communities of color, are impacted by unfair laws that result in license suspensions, and hefty fines, and that lead people into an endless cycle of debt and court involvement from which they cannot extricate themselves. Rather than reverse this trend, AB 516 would contribute to it.”

Adding insult to injury: the bill would raise the amount car dealers are allowed to charge car buyers as a “document fee” from $80 to $90.  If the bill passes, car buyers will  pay car dealers more, supposedly to handle the registration and spare them the hassle of dealing with the DMV. But guess what. The dealer still doesn’t have to get you the permanent plates in time for you to avoid being pulled over and ticketed. AHA. Catch-22.

Read more:

News report:  Car Dealers Making Yo-Yos out of CA Legislators

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial: License Plate Bill Needs a Quick Fix

The Daily Journal: Temp License Plate bill moves forward

Letters opposing this bill:

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Law firm of Kemnitzer, Barron & Krieg

 

CA on track to have the worst auto safety recall law in the nation

Greedy, unscrupulous car dealers are high-fiving themselves, as Democratic and Republic legislators in California continue to vote unanimously to legalize dealers’ sales of unsafe, recalled used cars with lethal safety defects to consumers.

Testifying against the car dealers’ bill: Cally Houck, who lost her two daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, ages 24 and 20, due to a recalled car.  A steering hose leaked, causing an under-hood fire and a loss of steering control.  The two sisters ended up colliding head-on with an 18-wheeler truck.

As their mother, Cally Houck, told legislators:  AB 287, the car dealers bill, “would protect dealers, not consumers.” The bill is being authored by Assemblymember Richard Gordon, who has said that his father and grandfather were car dealers.

Also testifying against the bill:  Mark Anderson, who testified on behalf of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. According to NACA, if the dealers win, California will become a dumping ground for unsafe, recalled cars that would be illegal for dealers to sell in other states.  That would translate into more fatalities and injuries, and higher risk for everyone who shares the roads.

According to the car dealers’ bill, the defect that killed Raechel and Jacquie would not be considered “serious.”

Read more:

Orange County Register: A record 64 million cars were recalled last year: Here’s what’s being done to make buying safer used cars

Ventura County Star: Capps introduces rental car bill named for Ojai sisters killed in crash

CarMax – Too Risky for Wise Investors?

Thinking of investing in CarMax? You may want to take a close look at their breathtakingly risky practice of selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers.

CarMax is already under fire from consumer groups,  faces potential action by the Federal Trade Commission, and has been repeatedly exposed in undercover investigations by TV news organizations, including ABC’s 20/20, over its sales of unsafe, recalled cars to consumers.

Here’s the rub:  CarMax advertises that all their cars must pass a “rigorous 125+ point inspection” before they can be sold as “CarMax Quality Certified” cars.  But how can a car with a killer defect possibly pass a rigorous inspection and meet their standards?

Despite the mounting scrutiny, CarMax recklessly persists in selling “CarMax Quality Certified” unsafe, recalled cars at retail to consumers. Case in point:  Even when competitors like AutoNation have wisely announced their decision to cease selling used cars with unrepaired Takata air bags, CarMax continues to sell them anyway.

Defying common sense and responsible business practices, CarMax somehow seems unable to bring itself to stop selling consumers cars with the notoriously defective air bags, which can explode on impact, hurling shrapnel at the driver and front-seat passenger’s face and neck..  In cases that are making global headlines, the defective air bags have caused  serious injuries, including blindness, while other hapless victims have bled to death.

This particular defect  remains the focus of Congressional investigations in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Takata also faces possible legal action by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and by the US Department of Justice.

So — what does AutoNation know and take into account that CarMax doesn’t seem to grasp?

Is CarMax waiting for a total PR catastrophe, before they stop making that added bit of profit by selling lots of unsafe, defective, recalled cars to consumers, instead of having them repaired or selling them for a somewhat lower price, at wholesale?

Whatever CarMax’s motivation, wise investors may wish to rethink the company’s self-inflicted level of exposure.

 

Has GM changed its stripes?

General Motors executives, rocked by revelations about GM’s failure to fix known defects in its 2005 -2007 Chevy Cobalts and other cars the manufacturer produced in 2005 – 2007, seek to portray the company in a more favorable light, claiming  that the mistakes of the past belong to the “Old GM” and the “New GM”  has changed its stripes and is now more responsible and caring.

But — is it? You be the judge. Here’s what’s happening:  At the same time GM struggles to be perceived as a kindler, gentler company that actually cares about its customers’ safety, it is actively blocking legislation in the US Senate to stop rental car companies from renting unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers. In other words, if an unrepaired, recalled Cobalt happens to show up in a rental car fleet, they are perfectly willing to keep playing “recalled car roulette” with your life.

GM’s position, argued in revealing testimony by Mitch Bainwol, Executive Director of the Auto Alliance, which includes GM, is that they don’t want to have to compensate rental car companies for the down time, when the manufacturers’ unsafe, defective products languish on rental car company lots while the manufacturers and their suppliers crank out the parts necessary to fix the safety defects. The fact the manufacturers are obviously responsible for making the defective products in the first place somehow doesn’t seem to register in their consciousness. To them, it’s all about avoiding any added costs, even if that means putting their customers’ safety at risk.

Adding fuel to suspicions about GM’s supposed change of heart: GM’s now offering concerned owners of the recalled cars a loaner, to be supplied by a GM dealer. However, they have not revealed what standards, if any, the loaner cars must meet. Is GM allowing its dealers to loan out vehicles that are under a safety recall?

If you think this scenario sounds far-fetched, think again. GM dealers are opposing the same federal legislation (S 921), named for Raechel and Jacqueline Houck —  two sisters, ages 20 and 24, who were killed by a recalled rental car. GM dealers are also fighting against a popular bill currently pending in California (SB 686) that would stop them from selling, renting, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers.

Fe Lastrella, who lost her son, daughter, granddaughter (age 13) and son-in-law in a horrific crash near San Diego, after a Toyota dealer loaned her family a runaway Lexus while their new Lexus was in the dealership for routine maintenance, gave heartbreaking testimony in favor of the California loaner car safety measure.

Dealer lobbyists dismissed her testimony as irrelevant, because the crash involved a Lexus that had not yet been recalled — although her family’s tragedy raised public awareness and sparked a massive Toyota recall.  Instead, they argued that anytime there is a delay in getting repair parts, they should not be expected to stop loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers.

According to statewide polling, 88% of likely California voters disagree, and favor banning dealers from foisting unsafe, recalled vehicles into their customers. Of those, 78% “strongly” favor the restrictions.

Apparently GM and its dealers think the media can only focus on one auto safety disaster story at a time, and won’t connect the dots.

Video of US Senate hearing — GM represented by Mitch Bainwol, from Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, including GM

Senator Barbara Boxer asks: Should a rental car company be able to rent vehicles to the public when they’re under a safety recall?  Responses from auto manufacturers and dealers

Testimony of Fe Lastrella, who lost her daughter, son, granddaughter (age) 13 and son-in-law in horrific crash, due to an unsafe loaner car from Bob Baker Toyota / Lexus

Dealer lobbyists: Don’t stop us from renting, leasing, selling, or loaning unsafe recalled autos to consumers

Other vehicles besides the Chevy Cobalt included in the safety recall (so far):  2007 Pontiac G5s, 2003-7 Saturn Ions, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-7 Pontiac Solstices, and 2007 Saturn Skys,

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attack against Tesla : HUTZPAH

Automotive News publisher attacks Tesla over safety —
Ignores dealers who oppose having to perform safety recall repairs

“Musk Can Run, but he can’t hide,” writes Automotive News publisher Keith Crain, whose publication caters to auto dealers. Crain echoes the sentiments of auto dealers, who have mounted an aggressive campaign in an attempt to force Tesla to sell vehicles through dealership networks, where they can get a cut of the profits and subject Tesla customers to a wide variety of shady practices that further line the dealers’ pockets.

In his editorial, Crain questions whether Tesla has the ability to perform safety recalls on its cars — which so far have not even been subject to a safety recall.

He writes: “If and when, and it’s bound to be when in my opinion, his car is recalled — if not for the three Model S fires since October 1, it will be something else — he’s going to find it increasingly difficult to take care of all his customers in a timely manner. …I doubt that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will allow just anyone to repair a recalled Tesla or let the company ship parts to customers and tell them to install the replacements at their leisure.” (Automotive News: Musk car run, but he can’t hide,” by Keith Crain, Nov. 25, 2013.) Crain implies that Tesla, like other auto manufacturers, should depend on auto dealers to do the safety recall repairs.

What he conveniently fails to write is that auto dealers are aggressively opposing legislation in Washington DC and Sacramento that would require them to get unsafe, recalled rental cars or used cars fixed, before renting or selling them to consumers. A glaring fact that Automotive News has apparently forgotten.

As numerous national and local news organizations have reported, dealers have been caught time and time again selling unsafe, recalled vehicles to unsuspecting used car buyers without bothering to fix them first — even when the repairs are free.

Sample news report: Today Show finds recalled used cars for sale on dealer lots

Unless and until auto dealers show that they actually do place a priority on their customers’ safety, including sales or rentals of recalled cars, they don’t deserve to sell Teslas. They have shown over and over again that they simply can’t be trusted not to sell their customers unsafe cars, knowing full well that the safety recall repairs have not been performed.

Bottom line:  Elon Musk and Tesla are wise to avoid trusting dealers to ensure that recalled cars are safe.

Read more:

Auto dealers oppose rental car safety legislation in Washington, DC

Auto dealers oppose used car safety legislation in Sacramento, CA

Automotive News Editorial: “Musk can run, but he can’t hide”

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t become a victim of identify theft when you shop for a car

Imagine handing over your personal financial information, including your home address, Social Security number, birth date, and amount you earn each month, to a dealership finance manager who just happens to have a history of engaging in identity theft. Creepy, no?

Unfortunately, some dealers fail to do even basic background checks of prospective employees. As a result, you may end up exposed to identity theft. The FTC has issued “Red Flag” rules aimed at curbing ID theft at auto dealerships, which is a step forward, but — they don’t have the staff or resources to police compliance.

Bottom line:  This is yet another reason to ALWAYS get your financing lined up with a reputable lender BEFORE you shop for a car.

Read more:

Yahoo News report: Could you be a victim of identity theft while shopping for a new car?

Orange County, CA District Attorney busts major new car dealership

KC TV 5: Car dealer facing ID theft charges

F & I  News: Tampa dealer convicted of identity theft, other charges

 

 

Dealer ordered to pay off loans on traded-in vehicles

In response to dozens of complaints from consumers who were stuck struggling to make payments on vehicles they had traded in, plus the cars they bought, Washington State’s Attorney General ordered dealerships owned by Mark Gilbert to pay off the liens on the traded-in vehicles.

Washington state law requires auto dealers to pay off the remaining balance consumers owe on traded-in vehicles within two days after they make a new purchase. Typically, the amount owed on the trade-in — known as “negative equity” — is added onto the price of the newly purchased car.

According to the Attorney General’s office, “The Walla Walla County Superior Court..entered a preliminary injunction, ordering several Northwest auto dealerships owned by Mark Gilbert to comply with Washington dealer and consumer protection laws, requiring prompt payoff of customers’ trade-in vehicles.”

The Attorney General’s legal case involved car dealerships Gilbert owned that sold new Honda, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Nissan, and  Ford vehicles.

How can you protect yourself from this scam? The safest thing to do is to wait to buy your next car until you have paid off the loan on the car you are currently driving. Otherwise, you risk having both cars repossessed if the dealer fails to pay off the loan on the car you trade in.  Plus you sink deeper into debt. And — always insist on seeing the title to the car BEFORE you buy. If the dealer doesn’t have the title, the lender for the prior owner can repossess your newly purchased car — even if you are making all the payments in full and on time to your lender.

Read more:

Washington State Attorney General Press Release

“The financing fell through” — car deals gone bad

It’s a consumer transaction like no other. When you buy any other product or service, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, the seller can’t unilaterally change the deal. But then you set foot on a car dealership lot, and it’s like you’ve entered a parallel universe where suddenly the rules of the road no longer apply.

No other shopping experience in your life prepares you for what auto dealers try to pull. It’s called “yo-yo” financing. It’s a shady practice that has made headlines nationwide, and is becoming notorious, but continues to happen at auto dealerships every day, all across the country.

You negotiate to buy a car. You reach an agreement. You make a deposit and trade in the car you own. You are then sitting across the table from the Finance Manager, who is all smiles and claims to be on your side. He says he’ll get you the “best terms” on a car loan. He shows you the federally required Truth in Lending disclosures. Total amount financed. Monthly payment.  You look it over, it appears to be reasonable, and you sign the Retail Installment Contract. The salesman hands you the car keys, and off you go, in your newly acquired car. Life is good.

But then a week or two later, you get a phone call from the dealership. They say that the financing “fell through.” They want you to go back and sign another contract. On worse terms. The interest rate you agreed to was 4%. Now they want to charge 16%. Or 20%. The monthly payment was a manageable $240.  Now it will shoot up to $480.   They claim that your credit isn’t as good as they thought. Which makes no sense, since they pulled your credit report before financing the car. Given electronic communications, they knew within seconds what rate you qualified to get.

What they’ve done is known as “de-horsing” — a term that harkens back to horse-trading days. Their goal is to get you out of the car you own, and take you out of the market and trap you into a deal with them. Once they have your trade-in and down-payment, chances are good you can’t just go somewhere else and buy a car on better terms.  They have you over a barrel.

If you balk at signing the new contract, they will threaten to report it as stolen.  Or they’ll threaten to repossess the car, and ruin your credit. If you drive back to the dealership in your newly purchased vehicle, they may park cars on both sides and behind it, to block you from being able to leave, until you sign the new contract. Typically, they refuse to return your deposit. They also claim they already sold your traded-in car, even though it’s actually sitting on a back lot.

You feel trapped into signing, even though it will cost you thousands more than you had initially agreed to spend.

This is the twisted world of “yo-yo” financing. The dealers claim that the financing “isn’t final” — even though you reached an agreement and signed a contract.

The ONLY way to make sure you don’t fall into the yo-yo trap: NEVER, EVER get a loan from a car dealer. Always get your own pre-approved loan. And don’t fall for it if the dealer claims it will get you better terms. Because those can change after you drive off the lot.

CARS recently heard from a consumer, Michael L., who was being scammed by a major car dealer in Sacramento. He and his fiancee are expecting their first child in a few months and wanted a bigger car.   Michael had pre-qualified for a loan at around 10%. He had the check, from Capitol One, in hand.  The dealership finance manager promised a lower interest rate. Thinking he could save some money, Michael agreed to go with dealer financing. Then came the phone call — sorry, the loan “wasn’t approved” at the lower rate. The dealer demanded that he pay 18%.  So instead of paying $23,000 for the loan, Michael was going to have to pay over $30,000 to finance the same car.

He contacted CARS and we brought his case to the attention of a major national news organization. When the dealership found out about the potential news coverage, it backed down and Michael got to keep the car on the original terms. He said he’d learned his lesson — never trust a car dealer, especially not on the financing.