Ford recalls 370,000 sedans over possible steering loss

Ford Motor Co. announced it is recalling about 370,000 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Cars produced between 2005 through 2011 because corrosion could cause a loss of steering. The safety recall includes about 355,000 vehicles in the U.S. and another 15,000 in Canada.

The recall is focused on vehicles in 22 states and Washington, DC, and includes about 195,000 Crown Victoria police cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been investigating multiple complaints about steering loss in 2005-2008 Crown Victoria cars outfitted for use by police.

Ford said owners in other states, who may not receive notice of the recall in the mail, could take their vehicles to Ford dealers for a check-up, and, if necessary, the cars would be repaired at no cost to the consumers. Federal law requires auto manufacturers to provide auto safety recall repairs at no cost to the owners.

Unfortunately, if the vehicles are owned by new or used car dealers who do not have a Ford franchise, they may not  be repaired before they are rented, sold, or loaned to unsuspecting used car buyers.  Auto dealers are fighting attempts in Washington, DC and Sacramento to help ensure that dealers have the safety recall repairs performed — for FREE — before they foist them off on their customers.

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled used car? If they did, CARS wants to hear from you — here’s where to contact CARS.

Read more:

NY Times report: Ford announces safety recall

Car dealers oppose having to fix unsafe, recalled used cars

 

 

 

 

 

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: 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.

 

CA Senator Boxer and U.S. Rep. Capps: Stop Renting Unsafe Cars to Consumers, Federal Workers

Are the rental cars driven by consumers and federal employees safe? Or are they prone to catching fire, having brake failures, or other serious safety defects?

CA Senator Boxer and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps call on Congress and federal agency to protect consumers and federal workers from unsafe rental cars

Lawmakers Urge Agency to Take Action Now While Congress Works on Legislation to Stop the Renting or Selling of Vehicles Under Safety Recall

Santa Barbara, CA – On August 10, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA23) sent a letter calling on Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients to take steps to protect federal workers from renting vehicles under safety recall while they are traveling on official business.

Boxer and Capps are the lead authors of House and Senate legislation – the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012 – which would ensure the safety of America’s rental car fleet by preventing rental car companies from renting or selling recalled cars or trucks. The legislation is named in honor of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed in a tragic accident in 2004 caused by an unrepaired defect in a PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise that was under a safety recall.

The two California lawmakers wrote in the letter, “This terrible accident drew attention to the fact that car rental companies are not required to repair vehicles under safety recall before they are rented or sold to the public. We have written legislation to close this loophole and are working with our colleagues in the House and Senate to enact this measure into law.

“In the meantime, we believe it is imperative that we protect people from unsafe recalled vehicles,” the lawmakers wrote. “So today we are urging the Federal government to put in place policies that will ensure that no Federal employee rents a vehicle under safety recall until it has been fixed.”

Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Capps announced the letter at a press conference at Santa Barbara Airport today. They were joined by Cally Houck of Ojai, California, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline, who along with Hertz and consumer groups has endorsed the new House and Senate rental car safety legislation.

The text of the letter follows:

August 10, 2012

Dear Acting Director Zients:

We are writing today to call on your agency to ensure the safety of all Federal employees driving rental vehicles while on official duty.

In 2004, Raechel and Jacqueline Houck of Ojai, California, were killed in a tragic accident caused by an unrepaired defect in a rental car that was under a safety recall. This terrible accident drew attention to the fact that car rental companies are not required to repair vehicles under safety recall before they are rented or sold to the public. We have written legislation to close this loophole and are working with our colleagues in the House and Senate to enact this measure into law.

In the meantime, we believe it is imperative that we protect people from unsafe recalled vehicles. So today we are urging the Federal government to put in place policies that will ensure that no Federal employee rents a vehicle under safety recall until it has been fixed.

On July 30, 2012, the California Department of General Services announced plans to amend the State’s contracts with Enterprise to include specific policies for recalled vehicles. The Director of the Department of General Services, Fred Klass, wrote “Under the terms of the amended contract, Enterprise will be required to repair all recalled vehicles prior to making them available to State employees. In addition, Enterprise will be required to call back any vehicles already being rented to State employees once a recall notice is issued so those vehicles can be exchanged for a non-recalled vehicle.”

We urge the Federal government to act now to protect Federal workers from the type of tragedy that this California family endured. We would be happy to work with you on this critical matter.

Sincerely,
Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Lois Capps
Member of Congress