DO NOT drive these Honda cars. Get them fixed. NOW.

A 50-year-old Riverside, California woman was recently killed by a faulty, recalled airbag in her 2001 Honda Civic. Cutting corners on safety, airbag supplier Takata produced the airbag with cheap but volatile sodium nitrate.

In even a low-speed collision, the chemical explodes with excessive force, sending shards of metal into the passenger compartment. It’s been described as having a hand grenade go off in the car.

The woman, Delia Robles, was driving to get her flu shot when her Civic collided with a pickup truck. Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have been warning owners of the cars not to drive them, and to get them repaired immediately.  NHTSA found that in a collision where the airbags inflate, the odds of being killed are 50-50.  In other words, those cars are ticking time bombs.

Here are the cars that NHTSA has identified as posing the highest risk:

2001-2002 Honda Civic, 2001-2002 Honda Accord, 2002-2003 Acura TL, 2002 Honda CR-V, 2002 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Acura CL, 2003 Honda Pilot.

Honda is offering to tow these cars to dealerships for repairs. They should also offer to send roving mechanics to the owner’s home or workplace, since a leading barrier to getting repairs is the fact most people have only one car, and they depend on it to keep their job and get their kids to school. For many owners of recalled cars, the closest dealership may be a long distance away, and they may not be able to drop off their car on a weekday, and then get back home and back to work.

Owners of recalled cars may also have difficulty getting time off from work to drive a long distance for repairs. Many at-risk owners may not be proficient in English or Spanish, and may not understand the risks they face.

Some owners have also had bad experiences at car dealerships, and may be fearful of going to a dealership again. Unfortunately, some dealers may take advantage of the safety recalls to pressure them to buy another car, while holding their recalled car for repairs.

Where to check the safety recall status of your car, at a government website:

https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

If you own one of these recalled cars, here’s what CARS recommends:

Contact Honda directly.  Here is Honda’s toll-free number:  1-888-234-2138

Take Honda’s offer to provide you with a loaner or rental car,  and also have them tow your car to the dealership for the FREE repairs.

Read more:

CNN report: Stop driving these cars NOW.

Daily News report: Many Southern California cars have dangerous airbags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federal Judge warns children not to buy from CarMax

During a hearing before the U.S. Federal District Court in Pasadena, California, Federal Judge Wardlaw tells CarMax’s attorney, “I have to tell you, having read what CarMax does, I have told both my children, don’t you buy a ‘certified’ car from CarMax.”

Watch video: Judge warns children about CarMax

Did CarMax sell you an unsafe recalled car?  We want to hear your story.  The only way to get CarMax to stop selling cars with lethal safety defects is for courageous consumers to speak up.  Contact us at:

http://carconsumers.org/contact.htm

 

CarMax sells unsafe, recalled cars

CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, claims all its vehicles must pass a rigorous “125 point inspection.” It also advertises that all its cars are so-called “CarMax Quality Certified.”

But instead of living up to its hype, CarMax is selling LOTS of recalled cars with lethal safety defects. CarMax has a gambling addiction. It continues to play “recalled car roulette” with its customers’ lives.

Among the defects on cars waiting for sale on CarMax’s lots:

  • sticking accelerator pedals
  • catching on fire
  • hoods that fly up in traffic
  • faulty brakes
  • steering loss
  • stalling in traffic
  •  seat belts that fall apart in a crash
  • air bags that explode with excessive force and cause blindness or death

An ABC 20/20 undercover investigation found unrepaired recalled vehicles for sale on CarMax’s lot in Hartford, Connecticut. CarMax’s excuse? It can’t be bothered waiting for the FREE repairs.

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

 

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

 

ABC 30 investigation finds dangerous recalled cars for sale on dealer lots

“A record number of vehicles are getting recalled this year. Car makers have pulled about one of every five vehicles on the road, 58 million of them. But many of the potentially dangerous cars are hiding in plain sight on used car lots here in the [Central] Valley.

The truth is: they’re all over the place, and you may never know it until it’s too late.”

ABC 30 investigation finds dangerous recalled cars for sale on dealer lots

 

Honda announces new safety recall of popular Odyssey and Acura models

Honda announced it’s recalling 318,000 Odyssey minivans in the U.S. and 63,400 Acura MDX sport-utility vehicles in several nations because the air bags could deploy unnecessarily, due to electrical interference with a computer chip.

Honda acknowledged it had received complaints from owners of 2003 and 2004 model year Odyssey minivans and 2003 Acura MDX sport-utility vehicles, after the air bags popped open while they were just driving along.

Honda said that owners of the recalled vehicles should take them to Honda dealers, where technicians will install an “electrical noise filter.”

Caution:  If you are shopping for a used car, you cannot rely on the dealer to ensure that the safety recall repairs have been performed.  Auto dealers are actively opposing legislation that would require them to fix unsafe, recalled vehicles prior to renting, selling, or loaning them to unsuspecting consumers.

Read more: Dealers play unsafe, recalled used car roulette

 

 

Unsafe, Recalled Used Cars for Sale on Dealer Lots

Used car dealers across the nation persist in foisting off unsafe, recalled vehicles on an unsuspecting public. Motor vehicles rank among the most hazardous consumer products in the nation, in terms of fatalities, serious and debilitating injuries, and economic costs to our country.

Fortunately, car dealers are prohibited by federal law from selling or leasing NEW cars that are being recalled by the manufacturer. But unfortunately, there is no such law to protect USED car buyers.

Each year, about 40 million people purchase used cars. But the powerful auto dealer lobby — which received billions of taxpayer dollars during the Great Recession — has blocked attempts in Congress to protect used car buyers from unsafe, defective recalled cars being sold at dealerships.

News organizations have repeatedly identified this problem. In 2010, the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that Congress address the threat posed by unsafe, recalled used cars. But so far, Congress has failed to act. Auto dealers are not even required to report fatal or injury crashes involving recalled vehicles they sell to the public, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

CBS’ Early Show investigated sales of recalled, used cars and found unfixed, recalled cars on lots scattered across the country.  When they asked if the cars were being recalled, sales personnel assured them that they wouldn’t have them for sale if they were being recalled. If only that were true.

According to CBS’ Early Show: “A dealer in Oklahoma sold Tabitha Gordon a used Durango in 2009. She was driving with her son, Kaden, when the lights, wipers and locks went haywire.  Gordon said of the incident, “I felt like I was in a twilight zone. … The plastic that covers the speedometer had popped, and smoke started billowing into the vehicle.”

She managed to pull over and get Kaden out as the car caught on fire. [“Early Show” Consumer Correspondent Susan] Koeppen said it turns out Gordon was sold a car that had been recalled for an electrical defect.  “We were told that it was safe and it would be a safe vehicle for our family,” Gordon said. “And it wasn’t, it was far from it.

Watch video: CBS Early Show — Recalled Used Cars Up For Sale

Can you imagine how awful it would be, for your car to catch on fire, when you have your child strapped in a child safety seat in the back? What if you are driving with several children who are strapped in? Would you be able to get all of them out in time, before the car explodes?

Auto dealers complain that it’s too much bother for them to find out if a car is being recalled and get it fixed, before offering it for sale. They would rather risk your life, and your family’s safety, than take the time to call the manufacturer’s toll free number and check the car’s status, or visit the manufacturer’s website, online, and get the car fixed — for free.

CARS believes that even if you can’t afford a new car, or if you simply decide that a used car is a better deal, you and your family still deserve to be safe.

What can you to to protect yourself from unsafe, recalled used cars?  When you find a car you like,  NEVER take the car dealer’s word for it that the car does not have a safety recall pending.  As reporters have repeatedly documented, car dealers are prone to lying about safety recalls, even if you ask them face-to-face about a specific car.

Instead, BEFORE you buy, do your own research.  Note the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is stamped on a small plate on the dashboard, visible through the windshield. Call the auto manufacturer’s toll-free number and ask if all the recall work has already been done. Or check the auto manufacturer’s website, under “safety recalls,” and enter the VIN.  You can also contact a local dealership that sells that make of vehicle, and ask them to double-check for you. Since new car dealers get paid to do recall repairs on makes they sell, at least they have some incentive to tell you the truth.

Read More: CARS tips for used car buyers

 

 

 

 

 

Federal Trade Commission — private car sellers often give “more reliable information” than auto dealers

We now have an official answer to the age-old question: Are you more likely to be misled if you buy a car from a private individual or from a used car dealer? Obviously, dealers want you to buy from them — and these days, they are boasting about their record profits.

But — auto sales remain the leading cause of consumer complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies. Year after year, new and used car dealers also rank #1 among the most-complained about businesses, in terms of consumer complaints to the Better Business Bureau.

To top it all off, the leading federal consumer protection agency for America’s car buyers recently stated flat-out that you’re more likely to get accurate information about a used car’s history when you buy a car from another consumer, rather than a used car dealer.

Here’s what the Federal Trade Commission stated:

“The Commission concluded that the [Used Car] Rule should not extend to private or casual sellers of used cars because the record failed to support a finding that deceptive sales practices were prevalent in private sales. The Commission noted that in private sales, prospective customers often receive more reliable information about mechanical condition than they do from dealers…” **

    ** Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 242, Dec. 17, 2012, pages 74761-74762.

Of course, you still have to be on the lookout for “curbstoners” — dealers masquerading as consumers. Be sure to insist on seeing the title and registration, and past work orders from repairs, and make sure that the names on the documents match the seller’s name.

And ALWAYS, ALWAYS insist on getting the car inspected by an independent, reliable, trustworthy mechanic / body shop of YOUR choosing, before you buy. A good place to find an expert to perform the inspection? Car Talk’s Mechanics Files.

It’s a good idea to also check the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System and other vehicle history services before you buy. The more you know, the better. NEVER trust a car dealer to tell you the truth about a car.

Twelve tips for consumers on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without being cheated by a shady car dealer:

CARS’ Twelve Tips for Used Car Buyers

Happy, safe car buying and Happy New Year!

Buyer Beware: Auto dealers selling unsafe, recalled cars — without fixing them first

One of the reasons many car buyers purchase used cars from an auto dealer is to get a car that they think is safer. But are they really safe? Not necessarily. Each year, millions of used cars are sold, without the safety recall work being done. Many are being sold by so-called “reputable” auto dealers.

The harsh reality — dealers are prohibited from selling NEW cars that are under a safety recall, but are exploiting a loophole in federal law that allows them to sell USED cars that are under a safety recall, without fixing them first.

Their excuse? They don’t want to bother to take them out of service as loaner cars, or to another dealer, for FREE repairs. After all, that might cut into their profits or be inconvenient.

Never mind the fact they are putting their customers’ lives in jeopardy. And also creating a hazard for other motorists who share the road with the unsafe, recalled cars. This excuse is especially lame, since the repairs are FREE.  By federal  law, the auto manufacturers must pay for the repairs, in full.

According to a report issued by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, car dealers’ sales of unrepaired, recalled cars is a serious problem that urgently needs to be addressed.

In the wake of the Toyota recall scandal, and in reaction to the GAO report, Congress attempted to require auto dealers to fix recalled used cars before selling them to the public. But under pressure from the powerful auto dealer lobby, that provision was stripped from the national auto safety bill that finally passed.

Tragically, unsafe, recalled cars continue to put unsuspecting car buyers and their families at risk. One investigation by highly respected consumer reporter Joe Ducey, Channel 15 in Arizona found dozens of recalled cars for sale on the lots of major auto dealers:

Cars with unrepaired safety recall issues sold from Valley car lots

Don’t fall prey to this dangerous scam. Be aware you can’t rely on auto dealers not to sell or rent an unsafe, recalled car. In fact, the powerful auto dealer lobby is actively pushing in Congress to keep on putting their customers’ lives in jeopardy. So far, they have prevailed.

Were you sold an unsafe, recalled car by a dealer? If so, CARS wants to hear from you. The only way this reckless policy will stop is when people like you speak up and the truth gets out.

Contact CARS

Meanwhile, here are 11 top tips from CARS, for how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without even having to step foot on a car dealer’s lot:

How to buy a safe, reliable used car — without getting ripped off

 

Buyer Beware: Flood cars from states hit by Hurricane Sandy

WARNING!!

Tens of thousands of flood cars that have been submerged in salt water, and contaminated by bacteria and various toxins, will soon start to appear all over the country, even in states far from the center of the storm.  Flood cars are inherently unsafe, and pose a serious risk to anyone who drives them, rides in them, or even just comes into contact with them.

Flood cars are basically rotting from the inside out. The electronic / computer systems, which control everything including the brakes, engine, air bags, and other major safety systems, are hopelessly compromised and will inevitably corrode and fail, over time.

Bacteria, mold, and other contaminants can cause serious or fatal health problems, particularly among children and adults with asthma and people with allergies or compromised immune systems.

Tips for consumers — how to avoid flood car scams:

  • Be on the lookout for both new and used cars with tell-tale signs of having been submerged — musty smell or “over-perfumed,” silt in places like under carpeting, in the well where the spare is stored, or title histories indicating the car was in the flood area

 

  • Check federal database of total loss carsprior to purchase (this is the official website for the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, established by the US Dept. of Justice, where insurers, self-insured entities, salvage pools (auctions), and junkyards in all 50 states MUST report all total loss vehicles, within 30 days — many report daily)

 

  • If the vehicle is relatively new, or still within the factory warranty period, get the VIN number and call the manufacturer to ask if they will honor the warranty — if it’s a flood car, they won’t honor the warranty, even if it’s new. Insist on getting confirmation in writing that the manufacturer will honor the warranty, before you buy.

 

  • Keep in mind that a “clean” title is not an indication the car is OK — many cars have had the titles “washed” to remove the “flood” car brand, and many states don’t even have a “flood” car designation. Plus some insurers have admitted routinely failing to properly brand titles — increasing the price the car can command at auction, by making it easier for unscrupulous sellers to hide the car’s checkered past.  This is one reason NMVTIS is so valuable for consumers — total loss vehicles MUST be reported to NMVTIS, even if the titles have never been branded, or if they have been “washed.”

 

  • Get any car inspected by a trustworthy auto technician — for example, one who gets consistently high ratings in Car Talk’s Mechanics Files — before you buy

 

  • Test drive the car before you buy — be watchful for signs the car is hesitating, running rough, smells musty, has tell-tale signs of silt or premature rust in places where you wouldn’t expect to see rust

 

NEVER, EVER buy a car sight unseen, without an inspection and test drive. If you are interested in a car you found over the internet, buy locally and go check it out in person, in a safe, public place, during daylight hours.  It the seller claims they are the owner, make sure they show you the work orders from the repairs they had performed, and confirm the name on the work orders matches the name on the registration and title.

 

Car Dealer Arrested by Federal Agents

The former owner of a Suzuki dealership in South Carolina and eight of his former employees have been indicted and are facing federal charges. Prosecutors say they used deceptive advertising that promised low monthly payments to entice customers to buy new cars.

According to the charges that were filed, the deceptive advertising and sales scheme occurred from 2006 through August, 2008.

In TV and radio ads, plus direct mail to consumers, Gibson and his co-defendants allegedly lured customers into buying cars, promising them very low monthly payments — usually between $44 and $99 — and here’s the kicker — at the end of several months, they could trade in the car for new one, at no additional cost.. However, when the “promotional period” ended, the customers’ payments skyrocketed. They were also not allowed to swap cars. Thus, they were trapped with high payments that busted their budgets.

According to a news report in the South Carolina Herald-Journal, “one couple bought a Suzuki in March 2007, [and] agreed to make monthly payments of $47 and were soon slapped with demands for $509 a month to keep their sedan.”

Under a court order issued in 2009, dealership customers divided $2.7 million in funds established by American Suzuki Motor Corp., lenders and the company’s insurance carrier.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Stephens is prosecuting the case with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Service and the FBI.

Read more:

Spartanburg, SC Herald-Journal, Sept. 14, 2012