C.A.R.S. in the News

 
 
"Protect Consumers from Double Taxation"
Fox and Hounds
March 6, 2020
"As the world grapples with the economic impact of the spreading coronavirus, the Trump Administration is mulling over whether to seek another round of tax cuts. Given the extreme polarization in Congress, it remains to be seen whether the Democrats and Republicans will be able to agree on any tax measure in this election year.

Will Congress provide relief from the unfair double taxation harming consumers and small businesses, including auto lemon owners?
But despite the polarization in Washington, there is one federal tax cut that has already started to attract bi-partisan support among legislators from both major parties, in California. Legislators in Sacramento are joining forces to call on Congress to end the unfair double-taxation that is hitting consumers who prevail against corporate lawbreakers."

Read more: Fox and Hounds: "Protect Consumers from Double Taxation"
 


"Safety Experts: GM put 2019 pickup owners at risk after brake issues found"
The Detroit Free Press
By Jamie L. LaReau
February 6, 2020
"General Motors is contacting about 900 customers who've complained of brake failure in their pickups to come in for an immediate fix.

GM failed to alert customers with OnStar not to use the app, to avoid brake failures.
The automaker also is warning about 160,000 owners of 2019 GMC or Chevrolet light-duty pickups to not drive the vehicles if 'Service Brake Assist' or 'Service ECS' warnings illuminate on the instrument panel.

That's because the power brakes could fail, requiring hard manual braking or holding the emergency brake to stop the vehicle.

'If you have all these telltales when you start up the vehicle, indicating brake issues, don't drive your vehicle,' said Dan Flores, a GM spokesman. 'Call your dealer.'

Nearly 1,700 GM pickup owners have complained since mid-December that their power brakes did not work after they had a recall done and then used the OnStar app to start their vehicles. GM said 162,000 owners in total had that initial recall done.

Pickup owners have told the Detroit Free Press they were terrified when the power brakes went out, in some cases saying they narrowly escaped a crash. GM has said it knows of no one injured or worse because of the problem.

GM now has a fix to that recall repair. But some pickup owners say they are angry that GM did not notify them sooner of the potential danger. Safety advocates contacted by the Free Press agreed, saying GM should have used OnStar to notify customers of the risks given GM knew of the brake problem in mid-December.

'What a terrifying defect,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a national nonprofit auto safety and consumer advocacy organization. 'GM should have warned its customers right away about the hazards.'

GM put its customers at risk by not notifying them sooner they could lose brakes and not putting a stop-drive notice on it, said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research and Strategies Inc., a Massachusetts firm that does auto testing for plaintiffs' lawyers and other clients....

'I'm not trying to trivialize what 1,700 customers are angry about and if a customer said it happened, it happened,' said Flores. 'And 1,700 customers is 1,700 too many, but we're not talking about a huge number. We understand customers are angry. But we have a fix to the problem.'

Shahan said 1,700 is a big number, especially in a month's time.

'That's a three-alarm fire,' said Shahan."

Read more: Detroit Free Press: "Safety Experts: GM put 2019 pickup owners at risk after brake issues found"
 


"Your car dealer may be quietly selling your data to your insurer"
Los Angeles Times
by David Lazarus
January 21, 2020
Car dealers make money by selling your personal data to other companies, including your insurer.
"...it's troubling from a privacy standpoint — and a bit creepy — that information about your driving is being used by various companies as a profit generator without your explicit authorization (even if it's tacitly covered in the fine print of whatever contract you've signed).

'I think that most consumers would be very surprised to learn about this,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento advocacy group.

Aaron Lowe, senior vice president of government affairs for the Auto Care Assn., a trade group for auto shops and parts makers, said it's common for dealers and manufacturers to sell vehicle information, including odometer readings counts, to insurers or their proxies.

'There's a lot of information that gets traded,' he told me. 'It's amazing.'"

Read more: Los Angeles Times: Your car dealer may be quietly selling your data to your insurer
 


"Action News Investigates questions congressman about vehicles
with open safety recalls sold at his car dealership"
WTAE Action News Channel 4
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Paul Van Osdol
November 21, 2019
 
"U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) has responded to questions about why his car dealership offers vehicles for sale with potentially dangerous defects.

Pennsylvania law allows car dealers to sell vehicles with open safety recalls. But consumer advocates say it's potentially dangerous.

US Rep. Mike Kelly thinks he can get away with selling dangerous vehicles without getting FREE repairs done to fix deadly safety recalls first.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states with a law specifically allowing the sale of these cars, as long as the defects are disclosed at the time of sale.

Earlier this year, Action News Investigates found 17 cars with open recalls for sale at dealerships owned by Kelly.

WTAE chose to look specifically at Kelly's dealership because in November 2015, he spoke on the floor of the House in favor of a bill that would have allowed car dealers to rent or loan vehicles even if they were subject to safety recalls.

'There is not a single person in our business that would ever put one of our owners in a defective car or a car with a recall. But that could happen. That could happen,' Kelly said at the time.

Kelly refused to comment when we contacted him earlier this year....


In a statement, Pennsylvania Automobile Association Vice President Chad Marsar said, 'Every day, dealers are fixing these vehicles, at no cost to the consumer, as soon as parts become available from the manufacturer.'

But Rosemary Shahan, of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said Pennsylvania's law is putting car buyers at risk. She said Kelly and other dealers should fix recalls before putting vehicles up for sale.

'When there is a safety recall, it means the car is unsafe,' she said. 'If the car has a safety recall you don't want to buy it. You want to wait until it's fixed and safe to drive.'

Action News Investigates found that five of the vehicles at Kelly's dealership with active recalls were advertised on his website as GM-certified....


Brendan Kelly, the congressman's son who oversees the dealership, did not return multiple messages from Action News Investigates.

'Anytime you go to a licensed dealer, you shouldn't have to worry they're deliberately or negligently selling you a car that's really unsafe,' Shahan said.

Watch Investigative Report: WTAE Action News: Action News Investigates questions congressman about vehicles with open safety recalls sold at his car dealership
 
 
"Sen. Blumenthal demands end to dangerous used car sales"
WTNH News 8 -- Hartford, Connecticut
by Samaia Hernandez
October 18, 2019
"Buying a used car can be a daunting process and according to new research, it can be dangerous for consumers.

Not everyone can afford to buy or lease a new 'worry-free' car. Hence the appeal of 'certified' used cars.

But the consumer group[s] ConnPIRG [and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation] recently found that one out of 9 cars sold at Auto Nation has recalls on it, including issues with brakes, steering wheels, ignitions, and airbags.

'Auto Nation, CarMax and dealerships like it are putting consumers and customers in danger before they even get home,' said Justin Landry, ConnPIRG.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal says it's a big issue here in Connecticut.
 
Sen. Blumenthal demands car dealers stop selling dangerous recalled used cars.
 
'Many of these cars with defects are labeled "certified," which leads the buyer to believe that in fact they are safe and that they have been repaired,' said Blumenthal.

Blumenthal's office conducted its own review at this CarMax in Hartford.

'One out of every 8 of these cars has a serious defect under recall,' said Blumenthal.

In a statement, CarMax said 'we share vehicle specific open recall information in-store, and online to ensure our customers know about open recalls prior to purchase.'

Still, Blumenthal says that's not good enough. He introduced [federal] legislation that would require dealers to repair [safety recall] defects [on all used vehicles] before sale.

'People driving these cars off the lot, even if they're told about the defect, pose a danger to themselves, their passengers and other motorists on the road,' said Blumenthal."

View report: WTNH News: "Sen. Blumenthal demands end to dangerous used car sales"
 


"How to Make sure a used car is safe"
"Car dealers say it's OK to sell a used car subject to a recall, as long as the customer is told. Consumer groups call that a 'dangerous' and 'unethical' practice."
NBC News BETTER
by Herb Weisbaum
October 15, 2019
"Buying a used car is always a bit risky.

You don't know how that vehicle was driven or maintained. It could have been damaged in an accident or by flood waters. Or it could be subject to an "open" recall — a safety problem identified by the manufacturer that has not been repaired.

"Car dealers endanger car buyers, their families, and others when they sell dangerously defective recalled used cars."
Don't assume the dealer has fixed the problem — or will even tell you about it, consumer advocates caution....

Corey Jackson was seriously injured by a faulty ignition switch in the 2008 Buick LaCrosse he bought at a Chicago-area used car lot in 2016....

Seven months later, he crashed head-on into a tree, but the car's airbags did not deploy. Jackson's head slammed into the steering wheel and he was knocked unconscious. He suffered a broken jaw, collarbone, wrist and ankle. His hip was shattered. He's still in pain and walks with a limp, but says he feels lucky he wasn't killed.

'I lost my job, I lost my vehicle and I'm still trying to repair my life,' Jackson said....

So what happened? [Jackson is suing the dealer and General Motors, alleging violations of various state consumer protection laws.] Jackson's attorney, Michael Serra at Langdon & Emison, claims that when the car ran off the road, the faulty ignition switch went from the 'run' position to 'auxiliary' or 'off,' which shut down the airbag system.

How widespread is the problem?

Many used vehicles sold by licensed dealers have open recalls, according to a report released on Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS).

Rosemary Shahan, founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, believes it's 'a deceptive and unethical practice' for a dealer to sell a vehicle with an unrepaired recall.

'Dealers don't know when they sell someone one of these cars, if the customer will even make it home,' Shahan told NBC News BETTER. 'There have been cases where people have been injured or killed in a [crash] caused by the defect within hours, the same day that they got the car.'"

Read more: NBC News BETTER: How to make sure a used car is safe
 


AutoNation accused of selling vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls
CBS This Morning
By Anna Werner
October 15, 2019
"A new report out Tuesday accuses one of the nation's largest car retail chains of selling used vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation looked into 2,400 used vehicles at 28 AutoNation dealerships nationwide. [They] claim 'one in nine' had safety recall issues, including problems linked to deaths and injuries...
 
Report: AutoNation sells vehicles without repairing killer safety recall defects, including exploding Takata airbags that cause horrific injuries, including blindness and bleeding to death.
 
In 2015, AutoNation said it would no longer sell any vehicle, used or new, with an open safety recall....

But a little over a year later, AutoNation reversed course and resumed selling vehicles with active recalls. Jackson told Automotive News 'with the Trump administration there's no way that that issue is going to be addressed from a regulatory point of view.'

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who's pushing [federal] legislation to outlaw the sales of used cars with unrepaired defects, said disclosure isn't enough.

'Disclosure is really no substitute for repair,' Blumenthal said. 'The dealers who say disclosure is a substitute for repairs ignore the plain fact that unsafe vehicles are a menace. Not only to passengers and drivers, but to other motorists.' "

Watch full report: CBS This Morning: AutoNation accused of selling vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls
 


America's Largest Auto Retailer Sells Recalled Cars. That Isn't Against Federal Law.
A new report found that one in nine used vehicles sold from AutoNation contained defects
Vox Media
By Terry Nguyen
October 15, 2019
 
Click the image for a full-size version.
CloseSkaret View

AutoNation Sells used cars with unrepaired safety recalls.

"AutoNation, America's largest car retailer, has sold customers used vehicles with unrepaired defects, according to a new report from the US PIRG Education Fund and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation.

The report, which surveyed 2,429 vehicles, was conducted across 12 states at 28 different dealerships in July and August 2019. Out of those vehicles, researchers found 285 unrepaired safety recalls and determined that one out of nine used AutoNation cars contained defects, which ranged from faulty ignition switches to malfunctioning airbags.

The auto retailer currently operates more than 300 dealerships nationwide....

'...the main problem is that they're selling these cars to begin with,' a spokesman wrote to Vox in an email. 'These companies shouldn't sell vehicles they know have unrepaired recalls and endanger customers.'
 
....
 
While federal law prohibits dealers from selling new vehicles with unfixed recalls, there is no [federal] law that prevents used cars with similar problems from being sold, [unless they are owned by a rental car company or auto dealer as part of a fleet of 35 or more rental or loaner vehicles]. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) reintroduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act in June 2019 to close that safety loophole. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The senators had previously pushed for similar legislation in 2015, but the proposal received pushback from automobile dealers and ultimately wasn't signed into law. There are, however, state consumer protection laws that could be applied towards dealers.

Read more at Vox: America's Largest Auto Retailer Sells Recalled Cars. That Isn't Against Federal Law
 
 
Column: "FasTrak agencies may have sold out your privacy. Now they want legal immunity"
Los Angeles Times
By David Lazarus, Award-winning Business Reporter and Columnist
August 13, 2019
 
Toll road operators are accused of violating customers' privacy and other rights, and are afraid they will lose in court. So they ran to Sacramento and got Sen. Ben Allen to carry their bill, to let them get away with violating CA's privacy and consumer protection laws.
"Transit authorities statewide have been targeted with lawsuits alleging that, among other privacy violations, information from toll-road transponders — think FasTrak — is being used to illegally market to drivers.

Transit agencies have taken the legal threat seriously enough that they've enlisted a Southern California state senator to introduce legislation giving them retroactive immunity — that is, a get-out-of-jail-free card for any past misdeeds.

At stake is potentially billions of dollars in fines.

And also your personal information.

'The transit agencies are apparently saying that there have been so many violations, if they don't receive retroactive protection, they could be wiped out,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento advocacy group.

'This bill basically says that all that bad stuff they did, it's now legal,' she told me.

Sen. Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach, Santa Monica) admits that he's carrying the bill "to be helpful to transit agencies," which face lawsuits brought by angry motorists.
"I want to be helpful to the transit agencies," he said. "That is the only reason for my being involved with this bill. I intend to keep things really tight and not screw around with privacy concerns."
 
....
 
However, not all privacy violations alleged in the lawsuits involve technical operations. Some involve questionable marketing practices, such as using people's transit data to try and sell them things.

Lori Myers, 48, who is suing several Orange County transit agencies, told me she's received numerous promotions via email for local businesses — promotions that she suspects are related to her daily travels.

'The emails always came after I used toll roads,' she said. 'It seems very suspicious.'
 
....
 
...consumer advocates think the transit agencies are asking for too much.

'Going forward, there should be strict limits on information they can collect and share,' said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a Los Angeles advocacy group.

'Looking backward,' he said, 'there shouldn't be retroactive immunity. There should be a settlement brokered that addresses past violations.'

I agree, at least in regards to possibly illegal marketing.

The transit agencies say they did nothing wrong.

So they have nothing to worry about. Right?"

Read more: David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times: "FasTrak agencies may have sold out your privacy. Now they want legal immunity"
 
 
 
 
The Safety Institute logo      MASSPIRG logo      CARS logo
 
 
 
NEWS for Release: Monday, July 15, 2019
 
 
Car Dealers Attack Massachusetts Protections
Against Dangerous Recalled Used Cars
 
          Leading consumer advocates testified before the State House Joint Committee on Consumer Protection today against a bill that would drastically weaken state consumer protection laws by allowing car dealers to sell dangerous used cars with unrepaired safety recalls. The bill, which is part of a nationwide push by car dealers and their trade associations, allows car dealers to sell recalled used cars if they merely provide a "written disclosure" (in English only) "at the time of sale" that the vehicles have an unrepaired safety recall

          HB262 / SB 179, An Act further regulating business practices between motor vehicle dealers, manufacturers, and distributors was filed by Rep. Daniel Hunt and Sen. Marc Pacheco.

          "This special interest bill poses a serious threat to the safety of everyone who shares the roads in our state - not only used car buyers and their families, but also pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists," said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director for MASSPIRG, the state's leading non-profit consumer advocacy organization. "If this bill were to pass, our state would become a dumping ground for unsafe recalled cars."

          Cars under open safety recalls can be deadly. For example, a General Motors recall for a defective ignition switch has been linked to at least 124 deaths. Defective Takata airbag inflators have been linked to at least 23 deaths and more than 230 injuries, including blindness.

          "Automakers are only required to recall if a defect represents an unreasonable safety risk to motorists. If a defect doesn't rise to this level, manufacturers issue technical bulletins or customer satisfaction campaigns. This means that every recall represents a serious safety hazard."  said Sean Kane, President of the Board of Directors of The Safety Institute, one of the nation's leading auto safety experts.

          Under the proposed legislation, dealers could legally sell recalled used vehicles with defects such as:
  • Brake failure
  • Catching on fire
  • Sticking accelerator pedals

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Steering wheels that come off in the driver's hands
  • Wheels that fall off
  • Takata airbags that explode and spew metal shrapnel into people's faces and necks, causing blindness, or making them bleed to death
  • Hoods that fly up without warning and obscure the driver's vision
"Massachusetts' consumer protection laws have helped protect consumers in the commonwealth for approximately a half a century. To allow an exception for car dealers to sell used cars without repairing known defects would drive a large, dangerous hole in Massachusetts law," said Andrew Nebenzahl, a consumer attorney in Sharon, MA, who represents victims and survivors of auto safety defects, testifying on behalf of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.

Consumers in Massachusetts and other states have been suing car dealers who sold them recalled used cars, citing various state laws, and winning in court or receiving confidential settlements. According to the Federal Trade Commission, "…state product safety, tort, and other consumer protection laws, provide important safeguards to consumers affected by defective cars." Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also cracked down on a car dealer who repeatedly sold used cars that were defective and unsafe, in violation of existing state laws against such practices.

Under current law, Massachusetts requires car dealers to warrant that the used cars they sell for over $700 are "safe to operate on the roads." State laws also prohibit dealers from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts and practices, such as claiming a vehicle has passed a rigorous inspection when in reality it has potentially lethal safety defects. In addition, car dealers are prohibited from violating express or implied warranties, acting with negligence, failing to comply with the common law duty of care, or causing wrongful death.

"This bill is an open invitation for car dealers to play 'recalled car roulette' with their customers' lives," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), a non-profit auto safety and consumer advocacy organization based in Sacramento, Calif. CARS has been on the forefront in opposing similar car dealer "license to kill" legislation in Massachusetts and other states.

Dealers have pushed similar legislation in California, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Maryland. Faced with a firestorm of opposition from safety advocates and parents of children killed by recalled cars, those bills were either defeated or amended to remove the harmful provisions in all the states except for Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The car dealers' strategy to undermine state consumer protection laws was recently exposed in a USA Today/Public Integrity report, The Multi State Push to Let Dealers Get Away With Selling You a Defective Car.

Polling by Public Policy Polling has repeatedly shown, in state after state, including Massachusetts, that likely voters overwhelmingly oppose allowing dealers to sell unrepaired recalled cars, with or without "disclosure," with over 88% opposing such legislation.

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal recently introduced legislation to add a federal prohibition against car dealers selling, leasing or loaning unrepaired recalled used cars.

Click here for full testimony and supporting organizations.

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News release issued by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey:
 
 
 
 
 
 
For Immediate Release
June 26, 2019

 
 
***VIDEO***
BLUMENTHAL & MARKEY INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROTECT CAR SHOPPERS FROM BUYING, LEASING, OR LOANING UNSAFE USED CARS

The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act would close a safety loophole that poses large risk to American drivers & families
 
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act to ensure used vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls are repaired before being sold, leased, or loaned to consumers. The bill requires used car dealers to repair any outstanding safety recalls in used automobiles prior to selling, leasing, or loaning them to consumers. Current federal law does not prohibit car dealers from selling cars with outstanding recalls despite the incredible risk posed to the safety of everyone on the road. State laws exist that prohibit the selling of unsafe vehicles, but these laws are not being adequately enforced. The legislation addresses this unacceptable gap in consumer protection that confuses car buyers who believe they are buying a product with safety assurances, and threatens the lives of everyone on our nation's roads.

Blumenthal announced his intent to introduce the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act at yesterday's U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety hearing. Full video of Blumenthal's comments highlighting the importance of the bill is available here.

"Consumers shouldn't be sold or leased used cars with unrepaired safety issues. This bill will ensure auto-dealers repair dangerous and defective used cars before letting their customers drive them off the lot and onto our roads," Blumenthal said. "This is a no-brainer measure to protect American consumers and our roads from unsafe cars."

"All cars – whether they are brand new or used – need to be safe before they leave the lot," said Markey. "I am pleased to work with Senator Blumenthal on this important legislation that will make sure unrepaired cars subject to an outstanding recall are not on our roads. Closing this loophole is a critical step toward improving safety for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.


The bill is supported by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

"Passage of this important auto safety legislation will close a gaping safety loophole in federal law. Meanwhile, consumers victimized by dealers who play 'recalled car roulette' should fight back, using existing state consumer protection laws against such dangerous practices," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

"Vehicles with unrepaired recalls are unsafe for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and everyone on the road. Whether the vehicle was purchased new or used the danger is the same from non-deploying or exploding airbags, ignition switch failures causing a loss of motive power, or preventable vehicle fires. We are glad the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act will address this unnecessary loophole millions of unsafe used cars fall through every year," Jason Levine, Executive Director, Center for Auto Safety.

"The sale, lease or loan of used cars with known safety defects is a dangerous practice that potentially puts millions of drivers at risk. Recent high-profile recalls, as well as past efforts to cover up safety defects, have led to tragic loss of life and needless injuries. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) are to be commended for introducing a commonsense measure that will keep vehicles with unrepaired recalls off the roads. We urge Congress to pass the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act to close this loophole. Second-hand cars should not mean second-rate safety," said Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

 
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"Pennsylvania law allows sale of potentially dangerous recalled vehicles
Investigation finds 17 recalled cars for sale at dealerships owned by
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly"
WTAE (ABC Affiliate), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Paul Von Osdol
April 26, 2019
"Action News Investigates has learned Pennsylvania allows used cars to be sold even if they have potentially dangerous defects.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a car dealer, argued in Congress that no car dealer would sell an unsafe, recalled car to a consumer. But WTAE found that his own dealership was selling recalled cars with ticking time bomb Takata airbags.
One of the dealerships selling these cars is owned by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

Last year, Pennsylvania legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf went out of their way to enact a new law which gives dealers codified permission to sell used cars with open safety recalls.

The car dealers' lobby pushed hard for the law. The dealers said this law actually protects consumers by requiring any open recalls to be disclosed to buyers.

But consumer advocates said the law protects car dealers from lawsuits and exposes everyone to potentially dangerous cars....

Jewel Brangman of San Diego was one of 24 people worldwide who have been killed by exploding Takata airbags, which have since been recalled. Action News Investigates spoke to her father, Alexander Brangman.

He said debris from the airbag "severed the carotid artery in her neck and killed her," adding, "It's something that should never happen because it's preventable."

A 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche and 2012 Ford Fusion had open recalls for Takata airbags when Action News Investigates found them for sale at car dealerships owned by Kelly.

They were among 17 vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls offered for sale at Kelly dealerships in early March --nine in Uniontown and eight in Butler....

Rosemary Shahan is president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. Action News Investigates asked her about the recalled vehicles on Kelly's lots.

'That is tremendously dangerous and irresponsible,' she said....

Pennsylvania's new law allowing the sale of recalled vehicles was backed by auto dealers. Consumer groups opposed it, saying the recall disclosures may get lost in the reams of paperwork that have to be signed when buying a car. Consumer advocates, including Jewel Brangman's father, said Pennsylvania is now allowing more dangerous cars on the road.

'Personally, I think it's appalling,' Brangman said.

He lobbied against the Pennsylvania law, writing a letter to Governor Wolf.

'This was a preventable tragedy that claimed Jewel's life. That bill is going to set forth and put a lot of lives in danger in the area of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas,' he said."

Read more / watch video: WTAE-TV Pittsburgh: "Pennsylvania law allows sale of potentially dangerous recalled vehicles"
 


"The Hidden Risks of Used Cars
A CR investigation found that dealers are selling used cars
with open recalls to unsuspecting consumers.
Here's how to protect yourself."
Consumer Reports
By Jeff Plungis
April 30, 2019
 
"Armando Vargas-Ortega had bought his 2002 Honda Civic just three months earlier. While driving on the outskirts of Phoenix one evening last June, Vargas-Ortega, 54, collided with a Jeep that had run a stop sign.

car rentals at the airport
A recalled Takata airbag exploded on impact and killed Armando Vargas-Ortega. Car dealers persist in violating state laws against selling dangerous recalled cars with this defect, and other killer safety defects.
His wife, in the passenger seat, survived with only minor injuries after her airbag activated, as it's meant to. But Vargas-Ortega's airbag malfunctioned. Instead of cushioning the blow, it ejected a piece of metal, lacerating the carotid artery in his neck and covering the driver's seat with 'copious amounts of blood,' according to the police report. Vargas-Ortega died in the hospital three days later....

...the systems in place to identify and fix dangerous vehicles are flawed. Vargas-Ortega's death occurred because of a safety defect that Honda had issued a recall for years earlier. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the unsafe inflator remains unrepaired in nearly 23 million vehicles....

Jared Allen, a spokesperson for the National Automobile Dealers Association, says his group encourages franchised used-car dealerships to tell consumers when a car they're interested in has an open recall, echoing comments from the trade group that represents independent dealers. Allen also says dealers should try to fix used cars with serious recalls. But he says they shouldn't be required by law to fix all recalls because replacement parts are not always available and because "not all recalls are equal" and need to be repaired before a buyer leaves the lot.

Car safety advocates disagree. 'There's only one reason it's under a safety recall, and that's because it's unsafe,' says Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a national watchdog group based in California. There's now additional protection for rental cars under federal law, Shahan says, arguing that the same protections should apply to used cars. [Shahan also pointed out that there are many state laws that exist to protect consumers from unsafe cars. Some consumers, using state consumer protection laws, have won lawsuits against dealers who sold them unrepaired recalled vehicles.]

When our secret shoppers asked directly about the Takata recall, saying that they had heard about it on the news, the dealers' responses varied, with some refusing to fix or even acknowledge the problem....

For example, a dealer at the Richmond Truck Authority in Richmond, Va., told our shopper that it couldn't do the repair on the truck because it wasn't a Ford dealer but that once the truck was sold, it would be done for the new owner free of charge. 'I can't even take it to them because being another dealer, they will charge me for it,' our shopper was told. 'But you being the owner, they will do it for free.'

But under federal law, recall repairs are free to the legal owner of a vehicle, which includes used-car dealers. And Ford spokesperson Monique Brentley says that anyone, including independent dealers, can take any Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury vehicle to an authorized dealership for a recall repair at no charge.

Several states, spurred by industry-led lobbying campaigns, have tried to protect used-car dealers from lawsuits related to recalls. Last year, Tennessee enacted a law saying dealers were, in most cases, protected as long as they disclosed open recalls. Pennsylvania has a similar law. Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York reportedly also have similar measures under consideration.

Consumer advocates, however, say simply disclosing the problem isn't good enough. 'That puts the burden on the buyer to sort through what needs to be fixed right away and what could wait,' says Wallace, CR's policy expert."

....for commercial dealers, both franchised and independent, it should be mandatory [for them to get problems fixed before they sell the car].

Says Wallace: "If there's an open defect, it has to be fixed, period."

Read more: Consumer Reports, April 30, 2019: Hidden Risks of Used Cars
 
 
"The multi-state push to let car dealers get away with selling you a defective car"
Center for Public Integrity in partnership with USA Today and Arizona Republic
April 4, 2019
By Rui Kaneya
Joe Yerardi and Pratheek Rebala contributed to this report
"Carlos Solis never knew he was driving with a "shrapnel bomb" inside his steering wheel.

Car dealers push for passage of "license to kill" legislation, so they can get away with selling hazardous cars with killer safety defects.
The 35-year-old father of two was waiting to make a left turn on a suburban road outside Houston when another car struck the front end of his Honda Accord, triggering its airbags.

Instead of protecting Solis, the defective airbags shot a piece of metal into his neck and severed his carotid artery, killing him within minutes....

For auto dealers, the string of accidents was a warning sign of what was to come: a barrage of lawsuits filed against them for selling recalled used cars without fixing them first.

Auto dealers came up with a plan to pre-empt the problem.

They crafted what's known as "model legislation" that would allow them to continue selling recalled used cars, so long as they disclosed open recalls to customers — somewhere in a stack of sales documents. They then turned to their army of lobbyists — more than 600 on call in 43 states — to help get the measure passed, one state at a time....

Lawmakers have been touting the bill as a consumer-safety measure. But it was written by Automotive Trade Association Executives, an industry group in Washington, D.C., that represents more than 100 executives from regional auto dealer associations....

But Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a California-based consumer advocacy group, said auto dealers are only interested in protecting their bottom lines, not the safety of customers.

'If the dealers can get the bill passed, they will be able to say the only duty they have is to "disclose" that there is a safety recall, which can be hidden in a stack of documents and presented to the consumer only after they have already test-driven several cars, chosen a car, negotiated the price, applied for credit, and signed a purchase or lease contract,' Shahan said. 'Too late to be effective or meaningful as a form of disclosure.'

Read more: Center for Public Integrity, USA Today, and Arizona Republic: "The multi-state push to let car dealers get away with selling you a defective car"
 


"When buying a car may result in a scary (and pointless) adverse action notice"
The Los Angeles Times
By David Lazarus
April 2, 2019
"An adverse action notice — it's something consumers want to avoid at all costs, typically indicating you've been turned down for a loan or there's something seriously wrong with your credit file.

Dealers often shop around for credit -- not to find the best rate for you, but to find a lender who will give them the biggest kickback, at your expense.
Such notices are required by federal law when credit is denied. But in some cases, including car purchases, they may not mean what they say, and in fact may be frightening people unnecessarily.

Trust me on this.

I got one of these notices the other day and, not to brag, I've got sky-high credit scores, as might be expected for someone who gives consumer tips for a living.

Yet here was a letter from a local dealer related to my recent purchase of a used car that was in considerably better shape than the 10-year-old car I traded in.

"This letter is being sent to you because you were either denied credit or offered credit at lower terms than what you applied for based on your recent credit inquiry for a vehicle," it says.

So it was more than a little surprising that I was apparently being told I'm too risky to do business with....

The letter cited vague explanations from the credit agencies that included "too few accounts currently paid as agreed" and "too many loans with recent delinquencies."

Again, I'm not showing off (much), but each of the three big credit agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — gave me a score of over 800 at the time of the car purchase. I've never missed a loan payment in my life.

So it was more than a little surprising that I was apparently being told I'm too risky to do business with.

"It's very strange," said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento-based advocacy group. "For anyone with good credit, this would be a real insult."

Read more: Los Angeles Times: "When buying a car may result in a scary (and pointless) adverse action notice"
 


"Car dealers fight to hold monopoly on new cars"
"In some states, consumers seeking a new car have no choice but to go through a dealership. Dealers hope to keep it that way"
ConsumerAffairs
March 19, 2019
By Amy Martyn
"What would buying or leasing a new car be like if dealerships didn't hold a monopoly on the market? It's a possibility that emerging car subscription services and traditional automakers alike have dangled in front of consumers in recent years, in spite of the dealership industry's attempts to slap those services away....

Polling shows that most consumers dread being forced to shop for a new car at a dealership.
The challenge of getting rid of dealers

For decades, long before Tesla and others threatened to upend the traditional car sale model, going to the dealer was the only way to purchase or lease a new car. State laws protecting franchises from manufacturers, dating back to the history of the automobile, ensured it stayed that way.

Those entrenched laws have received little attention until recently. As the cost of buying a new car continues climbing -- reaching an average of $34,000 in 2019, according to Experian -- manufacturers are considering alternative ways to get consumers interested in new cars. And they're finding that the car dealership industry isn't going away without a fight.

'I can't see existing auto manufacturers getting rid of dealers,' auto industry analyst Bob Reisner told the tech publication Digital Trends recently.

'Dealers and their associations are among the strongest political operators in many states. They as a group are difficult for state politicians to vote against.'
 
....
 
'I think the reason that Tesla hasn't had that ability [for direct-to-consumer sales] taken away from them is that they produce cars in California,' Rosemary Shahan, of Sacramento advocacy group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), tells ConsumerAffairs. 'So there are a lot of workers who are employed by them, and both sides of the aisle want to keep manufacturing in the state.'

CARS has been outspoken about the dangers of self-driving car testing, Autopilot, and other experimental car technologies that Silicon Valley is embracing. But when it comes to the dealership law, Shahan says that Tesla is being unfairly targeted by dealerships that simply don't like competition.

'We don't think you should be captive to the dealers,' Shahan adds. 'Dealers have a monopoly on the sale of new cars. If you want to buy a new car, almost everywhere, you're forced to go to a franchised car dealer.'
 
....
 
Shahan, with CARS, blames the car dealer lobby in California for numerous gutted attempts to allow more direct-to-consumer sales in the state. She compares the process of visiting a car dealer to getting a root canal.

'Dealers know that most people hate going to car dealerships,' she says. 'They know that if people aren't forced to go there, they're not going to go.'

Read more: ConsumerAffairs: "Car dealers fight to hold monopoly on new cars"
 


"Buying a used car? Here's some advice from experts"
North Jersey Record
March 4, 2019
by Melanie Anzidei
If you're careful, you can get a much better deal on a used car from another consumer, without the risks of buying from a dealer who profits from ripping you off.
"A scathing state report released this past fall has shone a light on the used car industry, prompting lawmakers to reconsider industry enforcement and to push for ways to strengthen laws to protect consumers from predatory dealers.

But, as consumers may know, buying a used car may be unavoidable....

Consumers can protect themselves from predatory sellers by educating themselves on their rights, said Rosemary Shahan, president of the California-based nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

Shahan has advocated for stronger consumer protection laws for car buyers nationwide for four decades, and was the driving force for California's auto lemon laws, which later became a model for all 50 states. She described the auto sales industry as the Wild Wild West, and said consumers are uniquely vulnerable during these kinds of transactions.

'You're at a big disadvantage because you have no idea what the condition of the car is,' Shahan said. 'The days when you could lift the hood and kick the tires and kind of know what was going on with a car are long gone.'

That's why her nonprofit put together 12 tips for buying a used car, she said."

Read more: Buying a used car? Here's some advice from experts
 


"Driver hurt by airbag shrapnel as investigation drags on"
The Associated Press
By Tom Krisher
Published in The Daily Herald
February 20, 2019
"The inflator in a 2011 Malibu exploded in a Sept. 22, 2017 crash, injuring the driver."
"DETROIT -- Nearly four years ago, the U.S. government's highway safety agency began investigating air bag inflators made by ARC Automotive of Tennessee when two people were hit by flying shrapnel after crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 8 million Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia and General Motors vehicles in the U.S. use the company's inflators. The investigation became more urgent in 2016 after a Canadian woman driving a Hyundai was killed by shrapnel from an ARC inflator.

But public records posted by the agency show little progress on the probe, which began in July of 2015 and remains unresolved.

Now another person has been hurt by an exploding ARC inflator, this time in a General Motors vehicle. Safety advocates say the slow investigation is a symptom of an agency that has done little to regulate the auto industry.

'That's really unacceptable. NHTSA should have gotten on top of it sooner,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. 'It's just really painfully obvious that it's a (safety) defect.'"

Read more: Daily Herald: "Driver hurt by airbag shrapnel as investigation drags on"
 


"Don't Let a Car Dealer's 'Yo-Yo' Financing Scam Reel You In"
Nerdwallet
February 19, 2019
By Philip Ree
a young couple buying a car
The best way to avoid the car dealers' "yo-yo" financing scam is to NEVER get your financing from the dealer. Always get your own financing from a trusted bank or credit union, before you agree to buy a car.
"If you buy a new or used car, and a few days later the dealer tells you there's been a problem with your financing, alarm bells should go off. You might be the victim of a "yo-yo" financing scam — so called because you're pulled back into the dealership to renegotiate the deal at a higher interest rate and worse loan terms....

Yo-yo financing 'is a significant problem with dealerships that cater to lower-income borrowers, and oftentimes for people of color,' says Rebecca Borné, senior policy counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending.

Rosemary Shahan, founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, calls yo-yo financing scams 'epidemic.' Often, she says, dealers target people who are vulnerable or seem uninformed: young or older people, minorities, recent immigrants and even members of the military....

'Once you fill out that credit application, they know so much about you' and can then target victims, says Shahan. So it's important for all shoppers — especially those with poor credit — to be alert to early signs of a possible yo-yo financing scheme.

If the dealer persists, or threatens you, Shahan says it's time to consult an attorney. Visit the National Association of Consumer Advocates site, which lists attorneys who specialize in auto fraud cases. When handled correctly by an attorney, the situation can be resolved without any harm to your credit, Shahan says."

Read more: Nerdwallet: "Don't Let a Car Dealer's 'Yo-Yo' Financing Scam Reel You In"
 


"For Car Buyers Who Got a Lemon, State Laws Vary Widely"
New York Times
By Christopher Jensen
February 6, 2019
Female mechanic
Got a lemon? Your ability to get a refund depends a lot on how strong your state's lemon law is.
CC BYNC-SA 3.0 IGO © UNESCO-UNEVOC/Wendy Obeng
"Motorists who live in New Jersey and have a major problem with a new vehicle have a handy tool: the best lemon law in the land. But about a third of the states have such weak lemon laws that consumers will have a tough time getting a fair deal, according to a study released this month by the Center for Auto Safety.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have 'something that is arguably a lemon law,' but too many fail consumers, said Jason Levine, the executive director of the center, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader.

In the worst states, Mr. Levine said, there might as well be no lemon law on the books....

For consumers, a related and historically worrisome issue is interstate lemon laundering, said Rosemary Shahan, the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a nonprofit in Sacramento.

When a vehicle is repurchased by the automaker, Ms. Shahan said, not all states mark the title with its lemon status. That lets an automaker sell the vehicle again without the new buyer knowing its troubled history, she said.

In 1996, the Federal Trade Commission considered requiring all states to mark the titles of lemons. But faced with opposition from the auto industry, the agency backed off.

'The F.T.C. failed to act, and still fails to act, to protect the public from lemons with serious defects,' Ms. Shahan said."

Read more: NY Times: For Car Buyers Who Got a Lemon, State Laws Vary Widely
 


"Consumers, Beware: Used car dealers are selling vehicles despite open recalls"
The Chicago Sun-Times
by Stephanie Zimmerman
February 2, 2019
"In October 2016, Corey Jackson was at a used car lot in South Chicago Heights, signing the papers to buy a 2008 Buick LaCrosse.

He was excited about the leather interior, sunroof and heated seats — but he didn't know that the used car was the subject of a safety recall because of problems with an ignition switch defect already implicated in 124 deaths nationwide.

Some car dealers, including automotive behemoths CarMax and AutoNation, are violating state laws and selling dangerous recalled used cars without repairing safety recall defects, putting lives at risk.
The used car salesperson didn't mention the recall, Jackson says.

And because the Markham man bought the car used, he never got a notice from the manufacturer, General Motors.

Seven months later, on May 16, 2017, Jackson was driving home from work at WeatherTech, the car floor liner manufacturer, when he tried to pass a car on Bluff Road in Lockport Township. He sped up but quickly abandoned the attempt because another car was coming toward him from the opposite direction on the two-lane road. Suddenly, his car veered off the road and onto the grass, crashing into a tree.

The ignition switch had failed, Jackson's attorneys say, suddenly shutting off the engine and cutting power to the steering wheel, brakes and airbags.

Jackson was knocked unconscious in the crash. He was wearing a seat belt. But, with no inflated airbag, he slammed into the steering wheel. He lost several teeth and broke his jaw. The 37-year-old still walks with a limp from injuries to his hip and a knee and a broken ankle.

Now, Jackson is suing GM and the dealer that sold him the car, FJH Cars Inc. of South Chicago Heights, blaming them for putting him in harm's way with a defective car that was under recall the day he bought it....

Rosemary Shahan, founder and president of the nonprofit organization Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, says there's something wrong that no federal law is in place to prevent used cars that are under safety recalls from being sold. Shahan says used car dealers could easily check a car's recall status, 'but they don't do that. They just go ahead and sell it anyway.'

And she says, 'Most people just assume that, of course, the dealer's fixed the recall first.'
 
....
 
In some cases, people have been killed or injured in cars they didn't know were under recall. The 2004 crash deaths of two California sisters, Jacqueline and Raechel Houck, ages 20 and 24, in a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser that was under recall led to a 2016 federal law requiring rental car companies to take recalled vehicles out of service until they are repaired.

Legislation that would have imposed similar requirements on used cars was introduced in 2017 by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, but failed under pressure from industry.

Schakowsky says she plans to try again to get a federal law passed.

'The best thing we can do to get recalled cars off the road is fix the problem before the car is on the road,' Schakowsky says. 'It's already illegal to sell a new car or offer for rent a car under recall. Used car buyers must have the simple assurances that known defects have been fixed before you drive the car off the lot.'

Some consumers have fared better in state courts, where they can sue under state laws that more broadly address the sale of defective products.

Corey Jackson, who couldn't work after his accident yet still owed payments on the totaled Buick, says he wishes his recalled car had never been put out for sale.

'It cost me my lifestyle, my job — damn near my life,' Jackson says. 'Just value the person and not just the sale.' "

Read More: Chicago Sun-Times: "Consumers, Beware: Used car dealers are selling vehicles despite open recalls"
 


" 'A child could die.' Honda Odyssey owners warned feds
about seat dangers before Kyle Plush's death"
Cincinnati Enquirer
by Alexander Coolidge
December 18, 2018
"Weeks before Kyle Plush died in his parked Honda Odyssey, federal safety regulators received a dire warning from an alarmed parent about a possible safety defect in the same minivan model.

The Oklahoma owner of a 2011 Odyssey said there was a chronic latching problem with their third-row seat and urged a federal recall. The seat wouldn't lock in place and would suddenly flip over if someone sat or leaned on it. And when the seat collapsed, the force was too much for the motorist's youngster.

'(It) does not latch properly. The seat falls backwards when my 8-year-old son sits on it,' warned the vehicle owner. 'It doesn't matter if the vehicle is in motion or not. The seat goes in a backward motion when someone is sitting in it with the pressure of their back leaning on it. I feel this could be dangerous and needs to have a recall.'

It was more than dangerous for Plush. It was deadly.

A Seven Hills high school student, Plush died on April 10 when he was trapped in his minivan after the seat unlatched and flipped over on him. Pinned upside down against the closed hatchback, the seat back pressed against his chest, making it hard to breathe. He died of asphyxiation.

But federal officials with America's top cop for vehicle safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, took no action on the report....

But multiple safety advocates were appalled NHTSA isn't digging deeper. The UC doctor's inspection of the vehicle was alarming enough to merit an investigation and a string of past complaints makes it worse.

'That's a defect. When it seems to be latched but it's not, that's a safety defect,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), a nonprofit advocacy group in Sacramento, California. 'The fact that they have a series of complaints also raises a bunch of red flags.'

Sean Kane, the founder of Safety Research & Strategies, a consulting firm in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, said a single nonfatal complaint can be enough to warrant a recall, let alone a fatal accident. He said Plush's death begs further scrutiny.

'There should be a formal defect investigation,' Kane said. '(NHTSA's) job as an agency is not to wait for bodies to stack up.' "

Read more: Cincinnati Enquirer: " 'A child could die.' Honda Odyssey owners warned feds about seat dangers before Kyle Plush's death"
 


"Report says 16.7 million faulty Takata airbags still on U.S. roads"
The Washington Post
by Tom Krisher, Associated Press
December 21, 2018
 
"DETROIT — More than three years after the government took over management of recalls involving dangerous Takata air bag inflators, one third of the recalled inflators still have not been replaced.

That's according to an annual report on the recalls released late Friday by the government and a court-appointed recall monitor.

The report touts progress made this year by 19 automakers involved in the recalls, with recall repair rates across all companies increasing 30 percent during the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But the report by monitor John Buretta says 16.7 million faulty inflators out of 50 million under recall have yet to be replaced. And 10 million more inflators are scheduled to be recalled in January.

car rentals at the airport
In a collision of only about 24 km/h, Floridian Corey Burdick lost an eye due to a faulty Takata airbag that exploded, propelling metal fragments into his face.
Safety advocates said the completion rate should be far higher given the danger associated with the inflators....

Three years ago, NHTSA started to get consent orders from Takata and automakers to speed up repairs and hold them accountable, 'except NHTSA refuses to actually enforce the orders, thus stuffing another gift in the stockings of the auto industry,' Levine said.

Levine and Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said the agency tried to hide the report by releasing it late on a Friday before Christmas. 'It's embarrassing,' Shahan said. 'They have to put out the report, so this is when they do it to bury it,' Shahan said."

Read more: Washington Post / Associated Pres:Report says 16.7 million faulty Takata airbags still on U.S. roads

Watch news report: KOTA TV - from Associated Press:Report says 16.7 million faulty Takata airbags still on U.S. roads
 

 
"It's time cellphone signal jammers were installed in people's steering wheels"
Los Angeles Times
November 6, 2018
By David Lazarus
 
"A couple of years ago, a Florida man was fined $48,000 by the Federal Communications Commission for employing an illegal signal jammer during his commutes to prevent nearby drivers from using their cellphones.

I can relate. I bet you can too.

It's illegal to have a cellphone in your hand while behind the wheel in California and at least a dozen other states. But that doesn't stop people from doing it...

Admittedly, the matter is complicated.

'If it's an option for parents to get their kids off on the right footing and develop safe driving habits, that could be a real safety benefit,"'said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento-based advocacy group.

'But if it's envisioned as a way to modify the behavior of all drivers, it seems unlikely that those who are the worst offenders in terms of using their phones would be inclined to purchase that option,' she told me.

And if such technology was mandatory, Shahan observed, 'what about being able to reach 911 in an emergency where it's not safe to pull off the road, or to use a phone to navigate or get directions?'

These are big questions. But we're facing a big problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 37,133 people died last year in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 3,000 of those deaths involved distracted drivers. Thousands more people are injured annually by drivers who take their eyes off the road."

Read more: Los Angeles Times: "It's time cellphone signal jammers were installed in people's steering wheels"
 
 
"Deadly Limousine Crash in New York
Brings Fresh Attention to Safety Regulation Loophole"
National Public Radio
October 10, 2018
By Camila Domonoske
 
car rentals at the airport
After the tragic and preventable deaths of 20 people, there's now more scrutiny of limousine safety.
"The deadly limousine crash in New York has brought fresh attention to the issue of limos and safety regulation. The 'limousine loophole' means stretch limos aren't required to be tested for safety....

AILSA CHANG, HOST: The deadly limousine crash in New York that killed 20 people last weekend is raising questions about safety regulations. Limo makers do not have to prove that their vehicles meet the same safety standards as other cars on the road, and they never have. NPR's Camila Domonoske reports.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE: Rosemary Shahan is the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. She says the onus shouldn't be on customers to figure out if a limo is safe.

ROSEMARY SHAHAN: I think it's just really grossly unfair. People - of course they always care about safety. I just think most people assume that if they're in the business, that there are minimum requirements that they have to meet."

Read more: National Public Radio:"Deadly Limousine Crash in New York Brings Fresh Attention to Safety Regulation Loophole"
 
 
"Rental Car Startups Promise to Keep Unsafe Inventory Off the Road"
Consumer Affairs
September 24, 2018
By Amy Martyn
 
"Pretending to own a Porsche for the day has never been easier thanks to several startups now hoping to "disrupt" the traditional rental car industry with sharing applications modeled after Uber.

Just one of the vehicles available from online personal vehicle sharing company Turo
But unlike Uber, which has famously tried to argue that it is not a transportation company, the rental car startups appear to be much more cooperative with lawmakers.

Safety advocates and lawmakers in California say that Turo and GetAround have thrown their support behind a new state law that will ban cars with open safety defects from being loaned out through their platforms.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, is similar to Obama-era legislation targeting the traditional rental car industry.

'To their credit, Turo and GetAround not only supported the bill, but are the official sponsors, and are setting the standard for the entire [Personal Vehicle Sharing Program] industry,' Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) said in a statement."

Read more: Consumer Affairs: "Rental Car Startups Promise to Keep Unsafe Inventory Off the Road"
 
 
"Fire risk on wheels"
"CarMax puts onus on customers to get defects repaired after purchase"
Sacramento News & Review
By Dylan Svoboda
August 9, 2018
 
"Four years ago, Angela Davidson bought a used 2010 Dodge Ram from a CarMax in Irvine. Days later, Davidson learned the vehicle had been recalled more than a year prior due to a defect predisposing it to fire. After a quick fix at a local Chrysler dealership, Davidson and her family made their way to Las Vegas.

car rentals at the airport
Angela Davidson's 12-year-old daughter was riding in the back of the Dodge Ram CarMax sold her and her husband, when it caught on fire. Her husband pulled their daughter from the truck just seconds before it exploded into flames.
Halfway through the trip, the car burst into flames. The family escaped, but the fire burned several acres of the Mojave Desert. In spite of Chrysler's faulty repair, Davidson places the bulk of the blame on CarMax for selling her what was supposed to be a "great quality car," according to the company's mission statement.

CarMax's website shows that the company continues to sell used cars that are on official safety recall lists, including for having fire-causing defects, though consumers will only learn this if they look up the cars' VIN numbers on recall sites. CarMax [claims that it] does provide customers with a written disclosure of the defects prior to a car's sale. SN&R found three examples of cars that had been recalled specifically due to a fire risk for sale at CarMax's South Sacramento dealership, among several other recalled cars for sale....

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, [argues that] state regulators do have avenues available to them if they want to restrict the sale of defective used automobiles.

'At the state level, there are regulatory provisions that arguably make CarMax's actions with respect to the sale of an unrepaired recalled vehicle in violation of those parts of the code, which range from unfair or deceptive acts or practices and the fact that you can't sell an unsafe car," Levine said. "Not only do we need new laws, but some of the existing authorities can be brought in to reign in CarMax's practices.'

Even if there are laws on the consumer's side, Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, says the used car business is just not an enforcement priority for officials at the moment. Shahan said CarMax's corporate influence and the reluctance from the California DMV, attorney general's office and district attorneys up and down the state have allowed the company to continue selling recalled cars..."

Read more: Sacramento News & Review: "Fire Risk on Wheels"
 
 
"New Jersey Car Recall Bill May Provide Less Protection in Legal Disputes"
KIYC-TV in Trenton, New Jersey
July 5, 2018
by Walt Kane / Kane in Your Corner and producer Karin Attonito
 
"A bill that purports to protect consumers from car dealerships that sell recalled vehicles could actually provide consumers with far less protection in legal disputes, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. James Beach (D- Cherry Hill) includes a section totally unrelated to recalls, which would reduce buyers' rights under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. State election records also show the bill was introduced after three years of large contributions from car dealerships to the Senate Majority PAC, including $500,000 from one car dealer alone.

Alexis Rodrigues is the kind of car buyer the bill would appear to help. She thought she was getting a good deal on her 2009 Ford Edge, until she got a recall notice saying the car had defective airbags, and replacements would not be ready until September. 'I'm spending money on a vehicle that we can't use,' she says.

Had the bill been in place, Rodriques would have had to have been informed that the car she was purchasing had an open recall. But there's something else in the bill that sponsors aren't so eager to talk about.

"It's a double whammy to consumers and a gift to auto dealers," consumer attorney Michael Galpern says bluntly...

Alexis Rodrigues is skeptical the bill would even benefit people in her situation, saying lawmakers should simply ban the sale of cars with open recalls instead. 'Even if this passes, it's still going to happen,' she says. 'They'll just slip it by you and you'll sign it. And it's just going to keep happening.' "

Watch full report: KIYC-TV: "New Jersey Car Recall Bill May Provide Less Protection in Legal Disputes"

Note: It is already illegal under various state laws in all states including in New Jersey -- with the sole exceptions of Pennsylvania and Tennessee -- for car dealers to sell unsafe recalled cars, whether they are new or used.
 
 
"Pennsylvania passes law that will make it easier for car dealers
to sell lemons, safety groups say"

"A state law that requires dealers to 'disclose' that a used car
is defective can be used against consumers, groups charge"
Consumer Affairs
By Amy Martyn
June 29, 2018
 
"A new state law signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday gives car dealers more incentive to sell unrepaired, defective cars to unwitting customers, consumer groups charge.

Stephanie Erdman was blinded in one eye by an exploding Takata airbag in a recalled Honda. Other victims have bled to death. Pennsylvania's new law makes it easier for car dealers to get away with selling recalled used cars with this life-threatening safety defect.
House Bill 1898 enjoyed broad support among state lawmakers and car dealers, who claim that the measure will protect consumers because it requires dealers to inform buyers about open recalls on their cars.

The law mandates that dealers provide 'formal disclosure' to vehicle purchasers about open recalls. Such a disclosure 'alerts [buyers] to the existence of a condition that the vehicle manufacturer, through their dealer network, will correct free of charge,' according to testimony given last year by Pennsylvania Automotive Association Executive Vice President Mark Stine, who supported the bill.

But that 'formal disclosure' could very well be buried in the fine print of a purchase, according to car safety groups. Advocates suspect that vehicle dealers are only throwing their support behind the 'disclosure' law because it could be used as a defense should they face a lawsuit relating to a defective vehicle they sold.

And for many recalled cars, such as cars with defective airbags, there is such a long backlog for repairs that consumers are left with no choice but to wait.

The law will 'give dealers in Pennsylvania a new 'safe harbor, for selling dangerous recalled used cars,' Ralph Nader wrote in a letter to Pennsylvania's governor, before the bill was signed into law. Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, The Consumer Federation of America and several other car safety groups also wrote to the governor urging him to veto the bill....

...in a measure that is strikingly similar to the bill in Pennsylvania, Honda in 2014 reportedly began pushing dealers to have buyers sign paperwork stating they were aware that their used car had a defective airbag that had not been repaired.

'I believe it takes away the liability,' a Honda dealer told Automotive News at the time."

Read more: Consumer Affairs: "Pennsylvania passes law that will make it easier for car dealers to sell lemons, safety groups say"
 
 
"Pink-slip Car Loans: Quick Cash, High Price Tag"
San Francisco Chronicle
June 21, 2018
By Carolyn Said
 
"Carlos Smith needed rent money while he was between construction jobs, so he tapped his biggest asset — a paid-off 2008 GMC Sierra Denali pickup truck. He pledged it to a storefront lender as collateral for a $4,000 "auto-title loan" with a 70 percent interest rate.

Car title loans are legalized thievery
That 2013 transaction led to a three-year ordeal during which Smith's debt mounted even as he made payments. When he'd fall behind, the lender would send out a tow-truck driver to repossess his pickup. He'd catch up on payments plus fines and storage fees, then fall behind again, and soon find the repo man at his door or his phone ringing with the debt collector. He started to feel stalked.

'At the beginning they talked real nice, like, "You can pay it back in four months, there shouldn't be much interest, and everything will be fine,' he said. 'But immediately after I signed the documents it seemed they were intent on getting my truck.'

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have outlawed or capped interest rates for the short-term pink-slip loans, which consumer advocates say are as predatory as payday loans. But California has few restrictions on "cash for cars" lending, which has surged in the Golden State — as have the number of repossessions.

....About 17 percent of Californians with pink-slip loans have their cars seized, according to the state Department of Business Oversight, which collects data from the industry. Last year, the cars of 20,280 borrowers were repossessed, out of 118,431 outstanding title loans, the report said. More than half the seized vehicles (12,687) were sold at auction.

'These loans are like legalized car thievery,' said Rosemary Shahan, executive director of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a consumer advocacy group. 'They're extremely high risk for consumers' who can end up losing their cars, plunging deeper in debt, and dinging their credit with a repossession. In fact, she said, many consumers might be better off selling their cars and buying less expensive ones because they wouldn't rack up extra debt through interest and fees."

Read full report: San Francisco Chronicle: "Pink-slip Car Loans: Quick Cash, High Price Tag"
 
 
"Many Auto Dealers Routinely Deny Loaner Cars
To Customers Waiting For Fix To Deadly Airbags"
Forbes
May 8, 2018
By Diana Hembree
 
"When Robert Torres of La Habra, California, bought a used Mustang from a car dealer in 2014, he didn't expect it to come with a potentially deadly defect.

car rentals at the airport
Ford and some other manufacturers refuse to provide safe loaner cars to customers stuck with cars equipped with deadly Takata airbags
In May 2016, Ford issued a safety recall for the Takata airbag on the driver's side, which had been linked to serious injuries and deaths. When Torres took in his car for repairs, the dealer made changes to the airbag but told him replacement parts were unavailable. In July 2016, Ford issued another recall, this time for the defective Takata airbag on the passenger side. In December 2017, Ford sent a notice to Torres warning him not to let anyone sit in the passenger seat until it was repaired.

A Ford dealer promised Torres a loaner car, but despite repeated calls and letters from Torres and others to the dealer and to Ford Motor Company, it never materialized.

Torres says that he called the dealer regularly to ask when parts would be ready, but he was told there were no parts and that he just had to wait....

'Outrageous' is how Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), describes Ford's response to Torres and other consumers seeking loaner cars.

Discussing vehicle owners waiting for replacement airbag parts, Shahan said, 'Automakers should provide all of their customers with safe loaner cars and ensure that they are free from safety recall defects,' she says. 'They should also ensure that the car owners don't run into barriers in getting safe, no-cost alternative transportation.' "

Read more: Forbes: "Many Dealers Routinely Deny Loaner Cars to Customers Waiting for Fix to Deadly Airbags"
 
 
"Airbnb for cars is here. And the rental car giants are not happy"
The Washington Post
March 30, 2018
By Peter Holley
 
"Turo allows its 200,000 members who are car owners to post vehicles online and rent them out for as little as $10 a day. Turo officials say their company is a technology platform that allows car owners to earn extra cash, not a rental car company. Because Turo doesn't own any vehicles, they say, the company shouldn't be subject to the same regulations as traditional rental companies....

Turo's website offers the promise of cars that are better than the big rental companies.
In Maryland, a bill introduced by Enterprise would force Turo to collect sales tax, introduce safety inspection and remove cars with recall notices from their site. The bill under debate would also force Turo to abide by the same permitting process at airports as rental car companies.....

Without access to vehicle titles and VIN numbers, Peacock [Turo's head of government relations] says, Turo doesn't have access to recall notices. And in Maryland, safety recalls don't prohibit vehicles from being legally driven, she said.

But Rosemary Shahan, president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability, said Turo's leadership is ignoring the potential disaster that awaits if a single recalled car on the Turo platform results in a deadly crash.

Shahan said the company should, at the very least, force users to check their VIN number before they can join the platform. Oftentimes, she said, car owners don't know their vehicle is subject to a recall and by the time they find out there's a "body count."

'All it takes is one high-profile crash and their name — that's what they'll be known for,' she said. 'I hope they can learn from the experience of other companies. Whatever they think they're saving, it isn't worth it.'"

Read more: Washington Post: "Airbnb for cars is here. And the rental car giants are not happy"
 
 
"Federal Car Safety Officials to Be Grilled about Delays in Fix to Exploding Takata Airbags"
Forbes
March 19, 2018
by Diana Hembree
 
"If you buy a vehicle from a used car dealer, you may get a great deal -- or a timebomb.

Jewel Brangman was talented, beautiful, and only 26 years old when she was killed by an unrepaired recalled Takata airbag. Dealers like CarMax sell cars with this lethal safety defect, putting their customers' lives in danger.
That's because many dealers are selling cars subject to a safety recall without fixing them, even though they advertise the cars have passed a rigorous inspection. According to consumer groups, this means you may get a vehicle with a hidden safety defect that could cause the brakes to fail or the car to catch on fire on the highway.

This problem will be highlighted Tuesday, when the U.S. Senate holds a hearing about defective recall cars that puts Trump administration car safety officials on the hot seat. Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be grilled on why it's taking so long to supply replacements for defective Takata airbags, which can explode instead of inflating.

'Dealers continue to sell cars with Takata airbags in high volume and suggest to consumers that they can get them repaired at their local dealership, which is often false, due to massive parts shortages,' said Rosemary Shahan, founder and president of Citizens for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS)....

Consumers did score a victory in a recent court decision in a California state court of appeals. In a case brought by Tammy Gutierrez of Bakersfield, Calif., against CarMax, one of the country's largest used car dealers, the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled that Gutierrez had a valid complaint and that she could proceed with a suit alleging that CarMax acted illegally when it sold her a car with an unrepaired safety recall defect."

Read more: Forbes: "Federal Car Safety Officials to Be Grilled about Delays in Fix to Exploding Takata Airbags"
 
 
"California case questions CarMax's policy on informing customers about recalls"
Richmond Times-Dispatch
February 27, 2018
By Tammie Smith
 
"A state appellate court in California recently ruled that a woman who sued CarMax because the chain sold her a vehicle with an unfixed safety recall has a valid claim to file a lawsuit.

CarMax victim Angela Davidson protests CarMax's selling her family an unsafe recalled pickup that fell apart on the freeway and caught on fire, nearly killing her 12-year-old daughter.
'They said she can go forward with the process. They didn't say she will win,' said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

The recent decision reverses a lower state court ruling that had dismissed Tammy Gutierrez's suit against the California subsidiary of Goochland County-based CarMax.

'There's now an appeals court decision that can be cited in other cases saying CarMax, you can't sell these recalled cars this way,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety....

And the court found that they didn't provide full disclosure, and they also kind of opened the door for future consumers to say that these cars don't even comply with what is known as the implied warranty that the car is merchantable,' Shahan said.

Gutierrez maintained that CarMax sold her a 2008 Hyundai Elantra in 2013 without informing her that the stop lamp switch — which activates a light that comes on when the break is pressed — was under a manufacturer recall. Hyundai in 2013 recalled thousands of Elantras for the problem.

A trial court in January 2016 sided with CarMax, stating that the Gutierrez's complaint failed to allege sufficient facts to constitute breach of warranty, a misrepresentation that was not remedied or limited by the terms of the express warranty and breach of contract....

The opinion could potentially expose CarMax to liability for not disclosing safety recalls when selling used cars, Tobias said.

'The California court says that the plaintiff may be able to state an implied warranty claim under two California statutes. I expect CarMax will appeal to California Supreme Court, which could rule differently. If the lower court ruling holds up, courts in other states may rely on the opinion, especially if their states have statutes similar to the two in California,' Tobias said."

Read more: Richmond Times Dispatch: "California case questions CarMax's policy on informing customers on recalls"
 
 
"Lawsuit Says CarMax Had Duty to Disclose Used Car Recall"
Complaints.com
February 26, 2018
by David A. Wood
 
"A CarMax lawsuit alleges a California dealer sold a used car that had been recalled but hadn't been repaired, even though CarMax advertised the Hyundai Elantra as passing a 125-point quality inspection....

CarMax sold safety advocate Sean Kane this dangerous Jeep without repairing the safety recall defects -- catching on fire, bad brakes, and stalling in traffic
Plaintiff Tammy Gutierrez says she purchased a 2008 Hyundai Elantra in May 2013 from a California CarMax dealership where the company said the Elantra came with a 30-day limited warranty. According to the plaintiff, CarMax sales staff told her the Elantra was in great condition because it passed a "rigorous 125-point quality inspection."

Gutierrez says CarMax never told her the car had been recalled for a stop light switch and never repaired....

The court ruled the plaintiff made a valid claim that CarMax may have violated California's Unfair Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act. The case will now go back to the lower court to be debated.

CarMax has been in trouble before for selling used cars with unrepaired safety recalls, but consumer advocates claim federal actions taken against the company have been hollow...."

Read more: CarComplaints.com: "Lawsuit Says CarMax Had Duty to Disclose Used Car Recall"
 
 
"California Green-Lights Cars without Drivers"
San Francisco Chronicle
February 26, 2018
By Carolyn Said
 
"California on Monday gave a green light to allowing robot cars with no drivers on state roads within weeks.

Tesla with autopilot technology collided with a parked fire truck in the fast lane of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles
'This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,' Jean Shiomoto, director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said in a statement. 'Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.'....

The new rules for driverless cars leave judging the cars' safety to the companies and federal regulators. Some consumer advocates said they are concerned that driverless cars are not yet ready for real-world roads.

Companies must self-certify that their cars can handle themselves without a human in the driver's seat, and they must comply with all federal safety regulations. Cars that lack steering wheels, accelerators and other manual controls will need waivers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Cars — such as the ones currently being tested with backup drivers — that have those controls plus the addition of extra hardware and software to navigate autonomously may not need that extra approval.

There currently are no federal motor vehicle safety standards specific to autonomous cars, said Rosemary Shahan, executive director of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. That means there are no federal rules about keeping the vehicles safe from hackers, or requiring them 'to operate safely in all types of weather, or in construction zones that lack lane markings, or other road conditions that commonly arise,' she said in an email."

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle: "California Green-Lights Cars without Drivers"
 
 
"Groups Warn that Tennessee Could Become Dumping Ground
for Dangerous Cars"
Public News Service
January 11, 2018
 
Stephanie Erdman was blinded in one eye by an exploding Takata airbag in a recalled Honda. Other victims have bled to death. Tennessee's new law makes it easier for car dealers to get away with selling recalled used cars with this life-threatening safety defect.
"NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There's one more reason to read the fine print when buying your next car in Tennessee.

A new law in the Volunteer State allows used car dealers to sell vehicles that are under a safety recall, as long as the buyer signs a disclosure form.

The Motor Vehicle Recall and Disclosure Act is the first and only one of its kind in the country – after similar bills failed in four other states.

Andy Spears, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, is concerned about the potential impact on consumers.

"Dealers are incentivized to send their cars they know are dangerous to Tennessee, because if you're making a car deal and you can convince someone to sign this form, and there's no requirement that this has to be done at any time in the process," Spears states. "After you've already agreed to everything and you've worked out the financing – and then, they hand you a form and say, 'Yes, sign this form' – and most people don't read those documents."

Spears says his isn't the only group concerned that the state will become a dumping ground for dealers in other states to send cars they're unable to sell.

He cites the Takata airbag recall as one example of serious potential problems. It affects more than 1 million cars...."

Read full report: Public News Service: Groups Warn that Tennessee Could Become Dumping Ground for Dangerous Cars

Read more, including how to avoid being victimized by dealers who sell unsafe, defective recalled cars
 
 
"Law Could Turn Tennessee into Dumping Ground for Dangerous Cars"
News Channel 5
January 10, 2018
By: Sarah McCarthy
 
"NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A new law could put countless dangerous cars on Tennessee roads by allowing dealers to easily sell cars under safety recall, according to consumer advocates.

'It basically makes Tennessee a dumping ground for unsafe cars that will kill people,' said Andy Spears with Tennessee Citizen Action. 'And now there's an incentive for dealers in other states to ship their dangerous cars here to our dealers, because now we have a way to get rid of those cars.'

The Motor Vehicle Recall and Disclosure Act allows used car dealers to sell vehicles under safety recall as long as the buyer signs a disclosure form. But advocates like Spears argue a majority of buyers will overlook that sheet of paper, which will likely be lumped in with the dozens of other forms a person is asked to sign while buying a car.
 
News Channel 5: "Law Could Turn Tennessee into Dumping Ground for Dangerous Cars"
 
 
Spears said the law reverses important protections for car buyers and puts every driver on the road at risk....

'This is the first state in the nation to pass a law this dangerous,' Spear said. 'These types of laws were denied in California, Maryland, and Virginia. So other states have seen this law but rejected it when they found out what the law does.'

Spears said the only way for Tennessee consumers to protect themselves now is to do your own research. Run the VIN number of any car you want to buy through www.safercar.gov.

If you find a dealer willing to sell you a car under safety recall, Spears said to walk away from the business altogether."

Read more, including how to avoid being victimized by dealers who sell unsafe, defective recalled cars
 
 
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
forced arbitration
to get away with cheating customers
Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
See the billboard CARS displayed
right next to Mossy Toyota's car lot,
and read more about how Jon finally won.

 
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