So what auto safety regulations will we lose?

President Trump has reportedly declared that he plans to get rid of 75% of federal regulations.  This is verrry scary stuff. Especially since states are prohibited from being able to act, to require auto manufacturers to build safety into their cars.  The states’ hands are tied. That means if we lose safety regulations in DC, nothing can be enacted in their place. No matter how bad the carnage gets.

So — which lifesaving auto safety regulations will Trump roll back? The one that requires seat belts to work in a crash? The one for fuel tank integrity, that requires cars to withstand a rear-end collision without exploding into flames?  The one that requires your car to offer a minimum level of side-impact protection for your head and torso if you are T-boned by a huge SUV that blows through an intersection, against the red light? The one that keeps SUVs from tipping over, killing drivers and passengers?

You have to wonder whether he, or anyone around him, has thought this through. What will happen to public confidence in the auto market when people realize that the cars they own now are actually safer than the newer ones, built under the anti-regulatory Trump regime?

What’s next? Autonomous cars a teenager can hack, or that could be controlled by Isis, Putin, or Kim Jong Un?

This is reminiscent of when GM, Chrysler, and Ford were so cocky about having the entire U.S. market to themselves. They sold huge numbers of atrocious lemon cars. They were lemons despite the fact the workers were doing their best. They were lemons by design. Worst of all, the auto manufacturers refused to stand behind them. They dismissed consumer complaints and stonewalled frustrated car owners.

The end result: car buyers revolted, all 50 states enacted lemon laws, and the auto import market was born, eventually overtaking the domestics by a mile, especially in markets like California.

GM, a former powerhouse, now has only a puny 9% of the California market. Its market share nationally has shrunken to just 17%.  People don’t forget easily, or quickly, when they have been sold a car that fails to meet reasonable expectations. Let alone one that kills.

Message to President Trump and the auto lobbyists:  Don’t delude yourselves. It can happen again. Markets can shift, and they can shrink. It’s entirely possible that Obama will be known for saving the American auto industry, and Trump for destroying it. Ultimately, it all depends on what millions of individual consumers, who value their lives and their families’ safety, decide.

GM “certified” cars face Federal scrutiny

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has confirmed that it is investigating advertising of General Motors’ “certified” used cars, regarding their safety recall status. The FTC is the first federal agency to take action to protect the public from car dealers’ sales of unrepaired recalled used cars. CARS applauds the FTC for acting to police vehicle safety in the used car market, under existing laws.

According to the Detroit News, “GM said it was notified June 3 of the investigation by the FTC that concerned “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.”

CARS and our consumer group allies have been urging the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on CarMax, over its sales of unsafe, recalled used cars. CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. CarMax advertises that all its vehicles must pass a rigorous “125 – point inspection” to qualify to be sold as “CarMax Quality Certified” vehicles.

However, CarMax openly admits that it knowingly and deliberately sells cars that are being recalled by the manufacturer because they have lethal safety defects. CarMax neglects to ensure that the cars are repaired and safe to drive, before offering them for sale. The CARS Foundation and CALPIRG Education Fund recently issued the report “CarMax Is Endangering Lives in California” about the unsafe, recalled cars CarMax offered for sale in Oxnard and South Sacramento, CA.

New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs was the first local agency to crack down on car dealers’ sales of unsafe, recalled used cars, under a law in New York that requires dealers to certify that vehicles they offer for sale are roadworthy.

Read more: Detroit News: GM Faces FTC Investigation


How serious are safety recalls?

How serious are auto safety recalls?  Ask anyone who has lost a family member, or been severely burned or rendered quadriplegic, as a result of a safety defect, and they can tell you that auto safety recalls should not be ignored.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working to improve safety recall repair rates. Their goal:  getting 100% of recalled vehicles repaired, the sooner the better. Auto manufacturers are joining in that effort and turning to social media, offering discount coupons, and advertising about safety recalls in multiple languages. All in an effort to persuade consumers take their cars for recall repairs.

However, car dealers in California are so intent on maximizing their profits, they are doing something breathtakingly irresponsible. They are claiming, publicly, that only about 1% of safety recalls are serious. Seriously. Why? They don’t want to frighten people from buying millions of cars with lethal safety defects, like air bags that are prone to exploding with excessive force, spewing metal fragments into drivers’ and passengers’ faces and necks, and blinding them or severing arteries, so they bleed to death.

Just because the cars are unsafe, and there aren’t enough repair parts available to replace the defective air bags, dealers argue that shouldn’t interfere with their selling the unsafe cars to teenagers as their first cars, or to families with young children.

All the more reason not to by a used car from a dealer. Who wants to spend 4 hours on a car lot dickering over cars, only to end up with a vehicle that has a lethal safety defect, and no repair parts available for months on end?

Read more: CBS News: Feds seek ideas on getting more safety recalls done

Caught on video: new car dealer lobbyist admits why they killed bill that would have improved the law against dealers selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers.

CARS’ tips for buying a safe, reliable used car without having to set foot on a car dealer’s lot


Car Dealers seek to legalize sales of unsafe recalled used cars

Faced with record numbers of recalled cars and lengthy shortages of repair parts, car dealers are pushing aggressively to weaken state laws that prohibit them from deceiving their customers into buying used cars with lethal safety defects.

Car dealers are eager to foist the unsafe cars off onto their customers, knowing that there is no way they will be able to get the serious safety defects repaired, for months on end. In one horrific case, a father, mother, 13-year-old daughter and brother-in-law were all killed within hours after the dealer handed them the keys to an unsafe car. The publicity surrounding that case led to Toyota’s issuing a massive safety recall, and eventually paying a record fine. However, the dealers do not seem capable of learning from that tragic incident and its aftermath.

Federal law prohibits car dealers from selling recalled NEW cars to consumers until they have been repaired.  There is no similar, specific federal law that prohibits dealers from selling recalled USED cars to consumers. However, broader, more generic state laws in every state, and some federal laws, prohibit merchants, including car dealers, from engaging in fraud, false advertising, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, anti-competitive behavior, reckless endangerment, negligence, and other shady practices. In addition, a whole body of case law exists that prohibits such illicit conduct.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has charged some dealers with violating the federal law against selling recalled new cars to consumers. What’s next? Dealers trying to make that legal too?

KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, broadcast this news report about the car dealers’ highly controversial, anti-consumer, anti-safety bill in California. Be sure to watch for the reaction at the end, by the news anchors:

KPIX-TV: Car dealers fight back over recall disclosures




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.


GM Loaners May Not be Safer

From the auto safety advocates who blew the lid on the GM ignition defect — the latest twist.

We’re concerned about the safety of consumers who go to GM dealers expecting to get a safer car — not realizing the dealers may loan them a ticking time bomb.

If GM cares about its customers’ safety, why is it opposing legislation in Congress to stop rental car companies from renting vehicles that are under a safety recall? and why are its dealers opposing legislation in CA to stop them from loaning, renting, or selling recalled used cars to consumers — without bothering to get them fixed first — for FREE?

Read more: GM Loaners May Not Be Safer

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,

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