Three franchised new car dealers in CA sold a 2004 PT Cruiser with the same safety recall defect that caused this tragic crash, that claimed the lives of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20. None of them fixed the safety defect. The 3rd dealer sold it to a teenager as his first car.
"Is Your Used Vehicle a Timebomb? Loophole Lets Auto Dealers Sell Millions of Recalled Cars as 'Safe'"
by Diana Hembree
March 27, 2017
"Consumer advocates have been pushing to close the loophole that makes this possible. The fight intensified this February, when six consumer groups sued the [Trump Administration] Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a consent order involving General Motors and two of the country’s largest auto dealers. The FTC had issued complaints against the three for failing to disclose that their used cars were recalled for safety problems that were never fixed. In its December 2016 consent order, the FTC allowed the companies to continue selling used cars that were recalled and never repaired as “safe” or “certified” – as long as they disclosed that the recall repairs had not been made.
FTC would allow dealers to advertise recalled cars with lethal safety defects, including catching on fire, as "safe."
Auto safety advocates lambasted the FTC’s decision.
'The consent order is crazy; it’s insane,' says Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), one of the consumer groups suing the FTC. 'It lets car dealers put death traps on the road. It’s worse than nothing because it actually gives car dealers a safe harbor if they sell a used and recalled car that hasn’t been fixed.'
....All the major car manufacturers had previously forbidden their dealers to sell used cars with unfixed recalls, says Shahan, but after the consent order Ford reversed gears and began selling them.
And Trump’s presidency makes it even less likely these loopholes will be closed, as the case of AutoNation suggests. AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealership, had pledged not to sell vehicles with open recalls, but, quietly backpedaled after Trump’s victory and resumed sales of vehicles with open recalls. According to Automotive News, CEO Mike Jackson concluded the change in government meant the death knell for legislative action on used vehicles with open recalls."
Read more: Forbes: "Is Your Used Vehicle a Timebomb? Loophole Lets Auto Dealers Sell Millions of Recalled Cars as 'Safe'
"Very Safe, Except for One Thing...
Legal Clash with FTC on Marketing of Used Cars"
by Paul Feldman
March 27, 2017
"Can a used car be marketed as 'safe' or 'certified' even if it has defective air bags, a faulty ignition switch or other potentially lethal problems?
FTC would allow dealers to advertise cars are "safe" when they have killer safety defects that have not been repaired.
Yes, so long as the used car dealer discloses that the vehicle may be subject to a pending safety recall.
That stance, taken by the Federal Trade Commission, is at the heart of a recent legal settlement with General Motors and two used car dealers over deceptive advertising practices. But it is now being put to the test in a federal court in Washington, D.C., by auto safety activists....
'The sale of "certified" used cars as "safe," "repaired for safety issues," or "subject to a rigorous inspection," when such vehicles are in fact not safe because they are the subject of pending safety recalls, is extremely detrimental to consumers who buy used cars—particularly poor, unsophisticated, and non-English speaking consumers,' declared the Center for Auto Safety and other safety groups involved in the case....
Under the consent order, the agency said dealers who market a vehicle as safe must have completed repairs on recall issues or disclosed clearly that the vehicle [may remain] subject to an open recall.
That, however, can amount to a 'death sentence' for used car buyers who unwittingly purchase vehicles with unrepaired recalls, while also posing a direct threat to others on the road, said Rosemary Shahan, founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, one of the advocacy groups involved in the new legal challenge."
Read more: Fair Warning: "Very Safe -- Except for One Thing"
CARS and other leading consumer / safety organizations oppose
allowing CarMax and other car dealers to engage in
false advertising regarding the safety of "certified" used cars with
lethal safety defects as "safe," and "repaired for safety"
On behalf of a coalition of leading consumer and safety organizations, CARS filed comments, opposing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's dangerous proposed consent orders with CarMax, Asbury Automotive Group, and West-Herr Automotive Group.
FTC would allow CarMax to advertise so-called "certified" cars with this defect, that caused Stephanie Erdmann to lose her eye, as "safe" and "repaired for safety" and passing a "rigorous inspection."
The groups warn that:
"As the FTC states, 'Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety ... defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers.'
We agree with the tragic truth of this statement.
Yet, despite the FTC's acknowledgment of the imminent hazards that can be posed by unrepaired recalled vehicles, the proposed agreements would allow [CarMax and the other car dealers] to advertise unsafe, unrepaired, defective recalled used cars with serious safety defects that have killed and injured people as "safe," "repaired for safety issues,"
or "subject to a rigorous inspection,"
without repairing the safety defects. They could do so if the advertising merely includes a contradictory, confusing, inadequate, and misleading disclaimer that the dealer sells cars that "MAY be subject to recalls for safety issues that have not been repaired" and the dealer subsequently provides other information that is also inadequate and much too late in the sales process to compensate for the initial false impression."
Fed. Trade Comm'n, Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment, 81 Fed. Reg. 93931, 93933 (Dec. 22, 2016).
Read more: Comments filed by CARS and many consumer and safety organizations, opposing FTC's dangerous proposed consent orders
Federal Trade Commission to America's used car buyers: Drop Dead
Agency ignores pleas by safety groups, parents of children killed by recalled cars,
and safety champions in Congress, and approves
anti-consumer, anti-safety consent orders with GM and car dealership chains
FTC says it's OK for dealers to advertise that cars like this recalled PT Cruiser, which killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, are "safe."
Consumer and safety organizations blasted the FTC Commissioners' decision, announced today, to finalize consent orders with GM and the Lithia and Koons auto dealership chains that will allow them to advertise that unrepaired recalled used cars with lethal safety defects are "safe," have been "repaired for safety," passed a "rigorous inspection" and qualified to be sold as "certified" cars without repairing the safety defects, if they merely disclose that the cars "may" have an open recall.
The consent orders may lower the standard for the industry regarding how unrepaired recalled used cars are advertised, and will be in effect for 20 years, unless they are overturned in court or preempted by federal law. The dangerous behavior allowed by the FTC is worse than GM and other manufacturers say that they allow among their franchised dealers. It would also be worse than the current practices among many dealerships, which are constrained by state laws and also are concerned about their reputations.
The consent orders are also worse than existing law in all 50 states. Under state laws, dealers who engage in such practices face charges of negligence, wrongful death, punitive damages for fraud, violations of common law, and other serious sanctions. In each state where auto dealer trade associations have attempted to change the laws to make it legal for them to sell unrepaired recalled used cars with "disclosure," their efforts have been rejected by lawmakers, including in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee.
Quotes from consumer advocates and parents of children killed by unrepaired recalled cars:
"This is tragic. The FTC's reckless action will result in more people being killed and injured because of unsafe, defective used cars," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, which has been leading efforts to oppose the agreements. Shahan vowed to sue the FTC to get the consent agreements overturned.
"The FTC is supposed to protect consumers. Instead, they are protecting unscrupulous car dealers," said Cally Houck, mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20, who were killed by an unrepaired recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser that caught fire and caused them to crash head-on into an 18-wheeler. Subsequently, Houck won a unanimous jury verdict, rendered under state law, awarding over $15 million in compensatory damages, based on claims of negligence and wrongful death.
Unrepaired recalled Honda Civic killed Jewel Brangman, age 26.
"This would be catastrophic to consumers. When I met with each of the Commissioners, and urged them not to do this, what struck me was how clueless they were about how dangerous recalled cars really are," said Alexander Brangman. He is the father of Jewel Brangman, who was only 26 when she was killed by an unrepaired recalled Honda Civic with a faulty Takata air bag that exploded with excessive force, spewing metal fragments that severed an artery in her neck, causing her to bleed to death.
"The FTC is literally giving car dealers license to kill," said Taras Rudnitsky, a Florida attorney who has represented the surviving families of victims who were killed by the defects in unrepaired recalled used cars.
"This isn't just 'weak' consumer protection from the FTC. It is the FTC actively harming consumers, giving dangerous new protection to car dealers who fraudulently sell unsafe cars. We have won cases for consumers cheated by sleazy car dealers that did things very similar to what the FTC is now permitting, with courts and juries finding their conduct to be 'fraud' and deserving of heavy penalties," said Bernard Brown, a Missouri attorney who has represented victims of unscrupulous car dealers who sold them unsafe vehicles.
Comments filed by consumer groups and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, opposing the consent agreements:
Results of nationwide polling, which found that the American public overwhelmingly agrees that allowing dealers to advertise that unrepaired recalled cars are "safe" or "certified" is deceptive:
FTC's proposed consent agreement with GM – see especially page 4, A (2):
Letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez from U.S. Senators Schumer, Nelson, Blumenthal, Markey, and Durbin, blasting the FTC's proposed agreements as "anti-consumer" and "anti-safety":
http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2016 07 14 Letter to NHTSA FTC re Deceptive Used Car Advertisements.pdf
Letter from U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky to FTC Chairwoman Ramirez, calling on the FTC to revise or reject the proposed consent orders:
Recent actions by the FTC, acting more aggressively to curb false advertising about the ingredients in sunscreen and dog food than about cars with lethal safety defects:
Don't let car dealers trick you into buying
an unsafe, defective recalled car
1) Do NOT pay extra for a car that is "certified." That just means you are paying too much, particularly since the Federal Trade Commission allows dealers to advertised that cars are "safe," "repaired for safety" and qualified to be sold as "certified" cars -- without getting the killer safety defects repaired.
2) NEVER trust what a car dealer or salesperson says about whether a car is safe. Do not trust any car dealer advertising or any claims they make, whether they are in writing, or verbally, about the safety of the cars they offer for sale. It's unfortunate, but this is the new reality.
3) Check the safety recall status of any car yourself BEFORE you agree to buy. Here's how to check:
Get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which should be on a plate on the dashboard and also on a sticker on the driver door jamb.
Enter the VIN at the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at:
If you do not have access to the internet, or wish to talk with a person, call the toll-free number for the manufacturer of the car. Here's a list of toll-free numbers for each manufacturer:
4) If a car has an unrepaired safety recall, WALK AWAY. Your life is precious. So is the safety of your family and friends, and others who share the roads.
CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his wife Cleofe Lastrella, and their daughter, Mahala, age 13, and her uncle Chris Lastrella, were killed by a runaway Toyota Lexus hours after a Lexus dealer loaned them the car.
5) If a dealer tells you the defect is not serious, do NOT believe them. Many dealers lie about the risks posed by recalled cars. Some people have been killed by a defective car within hours of when they were handed the keys. One horrific example of what can happen: In San Diego, a Highway Patrol officer, his wife, their 13-year-old daughter, and her uncle were all killed within hours, after they were loaned a defective Lexus. The defect? The car had a problem with the floor mat that caused it to accelerate out of control, reaching speeds of over 120 mph.
6) If a dealer tells you that you can get a safety recall repaired right away, for free, do NOT believe them. For millions of recalled cars, it is impossible to get repairs because of a severe shortage of repair parts. It may take years before the car can be made safe to drive. If it was so easy to get the car repaired, the dealer should have gotten the repairs done, before offering the car for sale.
7) You can often find a safe car and a better deal by buying directly from another consumer, but you still have to be careful how you buy. Here are CARS' tips for how to get a good deal on a safe, reliable used car without having to go to a car dealership:
Tragic Crash in Texas
Exploding Takata Air Bag in 2002 Honda Claims
Life of 35-year-old Father of Two Teenagers
"Buyers of Used Cars are Left to Find Safety Recalls on Their Own"
New York Times
January 31, 2015
By Hiroko Tabuchi
A 2002 Honda like this one uses airbags from Takata.
"Buying a used car in the United States can be a dangerous proposition — if the vehicle has an unadvertised safety defect.
This month, Carlos Solis died after the airbag in a used car he bought last year from a Texas dealer exploded, sending a piece of metal into his neck. Mr. Solis, 35, was not aware when he bought the vehicle that its airbags could be defective and had been recalled, according to a lawsuit filed by his family on Friday.
A New York Times review of other vehicles listed online by the dealer, All Stars Auto Sales in Cypress, Tex., shows that close to half of those cars have also been recalled for safety defects but have not been repaired."
Read more: NY Times: "Buyers of Used Cars are Left to Find Safety Recalls on Their Own"
Read more: CARS leads efforts to stop dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers
"Fatal Houston Fender-Bender Shows
Shortcomings of Recalls"
The Washington Post / Bloomberg News
February 2, 2015
by Jeff Plungis, Jeff Greene, and Harry R. Webber
A police report photo of the deployed airbags.
"The death of [Carlos Solis], the 35-year-old father of two teenagers [in a recalled 2002 Honda Accord with a faulty air bag] highlights what critics say is the ineffectiveness of a system in the U.S. where, on average, a third of repairs still aren’t complete within 18 months of a manufacturer issuing a recall. As cars changed hands and automakers lose track, motorists often don’t know they are driving a car with a deadly defect.
An estimated 46 million cars with unfixed recalls were on the road at the end of last year and as many as 5 million of those, like Solis’s, changed ownership in 2014, according to Carfax Inc., which tracks vehicle sales and accident history....
In fact, dealers aren’t required by [a specific federal] law to get recall repairs done before selling a used car -- though they should be, said Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento, California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. [ However, dealers are prohibited from deceptive sales of unsafe, recalled used cars under broader federal and state statutes, and under common law.]
Solis’s death stemmed from a “relatively minor collision resulting in minimal damage to both vehicles,” according to a lawsuit his family filed Jan. 27 in Harris County, Texas, against Honda, Takata and All Stars.
The front air bag in the Accord deployed and the inflator exploded, sending bits of metal into Solis’s neck, according to the lawsuit.
He died at the scene. Solis left two children, a 14-year- old boy and a 13-year-old girl.
'Used car dealers have a responsibility to make sure they are selling safe vehicles, which includes identifying open recalls and working to get them repaired,' said Steve Jordan, chief executive officer of the National Independent Automobile Dealers in Arlington, Texas....
AutoNation voluntarily stopped selling used vehicles with unrepaired recalls at the end of June last year and the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company holds the models until they are fixed...
Even while there’s no regulatory requirement for dealerships to conduct repairs on recalled vehicles or parts, it doesn’t get them off the hook for lawsuits over injuries or deaths, said Robert Ammons, the Solis family attorney. 'They have a common law duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety of consumers,' Ammons said in an interview. 'There aren’t regulations on everything.' "
Read more: Washington Post / Bloomberg News: "Fatal Houston Fender Bender Shows Shortcomings of Recalls"
"Do Used Car Dealers Know about Open Airbag Recalls?"
Good Morning America (ABC News)
November 18, 2014
By Gerry Wagschal, Stephanie Wash, Conor Ferguson, and Elizabeth Strassner
"There are approximately 8 million cars subject to an airbag recall today, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ten automakers in total have been affected by the recalls. Stephanie Erdman, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, was a driver of one of the affected cars. The 29-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, bought a used 2002 Honda Civic in 2006. Erdman says she was never made aware that a few years after she purchased the vehicle, the airbags were recalled. Then, in September, 2013 she got into an accident in her car which severely injured her.
'The airbags deployed and I had a massive strike on my right side,' Erdman said of the accident. 'I just blinded out on that side and I just felt this dripping blood… It was absolutely horrible.'
Erdman later found out it was a piece of twisted metal that struck her, which she says shot out of the airbag and into her face. 'It’s an airbag,' she told ABC News. 'It’s supposed to protect me.'
....While automakers are required by law to notify their new car dealers and the car’s registered owner about any recalls at the time they are issued, there is currently no [specific] federal law stopping car dealers from selling cars with open recalls, or requiring used car dealers to check for them. [However, there are broad federal and state statutes that prohibit dealers from engaging in false advertising or unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or committing fraud, as well as laws against reckless endangerment, negligence, or wrongful death.]
So ABC News producer Gerry Wagschal went undercover into nine used car lots in New York, New Jersey, and Alabama, to see what salespeople would say when we asked them about specific cars that we knew had open airbag recalls. Of the nine dealers ABC News went to, five told our producer they didn’t know if there was an airbag recall on the car, while four dealers told our producer there was no such recall."
See the full report: Good Morning America: Do Used Car Dealers Know about Open Airbag Recalls?
"Cars with unfixed safety recalls sold at dealerships"
WSOC-TV Channel 9, Charlotte, North Carolina
November 19, 2014
by Blake Hanson
"An Eyewitness News investigation found cars with unfixed, potentially dangerous airbag recalls are being sold on Carolina car lots and it's not against [a specific federal] law... [However, there are broad federal and state statutes that prohibit dealers from engaging in false advertising or unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or committing fraud, as well as laws against reckless endangerment, negligence, or wrongful death.] "This vehicle has a potentially dangerous recall that could cause a fire if it's left unfixed" ...
A few cars later we found a driver, Jenny Rorie, has a car that is one of millions nationwide with the Takata air bag recall. "If it deploys, it could actually explode and shrapnel can come at you" ... "Yeah, that's kind of dangerous to me," said Rorie. "It's kind of scary."
Eyewitness News sent producers to several dealerships. At Journey Auto Sales, the salesman gave us an outdated CarFax report on a Mazda 6 that was printed in June, prior to the latest recall."
See the report: WSOC-TV: cars with unfixed safety recalls sold at dealerships
Dealers are selling unsafe, recalled used cars equipped with defective air bags that can explode
and propel sharp metal into your face. Some consumers have been blinded or killed.
CarMax sold this recalled Dodge Ram to the Davidson family. Just 11 days later, it fell apart on the freeway
and caught on fire. (More details below)
Ad published in Sacramento News & Review warns consumers: CarMax sells unsafe, recalled cars
ABC 30 investigation finds dangerous
recalled cars for sale on dealer lots
Channel 30 (ABC) Fresno
November 17, 2014
by Corin Hoggard
"A record number of vehicles are getting recalled this year. Car makers have pulled about one of every five vehicles on the road, 58 million of them. But many of the potentially dangerous cars are hiding in plain sight on used car lots here in the Valley.
The truth is: they're all over the place, and you may never know it until it's too late."
ABC 30 News investigation finds dangerous recalled cars on dealer lots
Stop auto dealers from playing
"recalled used car roulette"
CarMax is the largest used-car retailer in the U.S. You've probably seen their ads claiming that every car they sell passes a rigorous "125+-point inspection.” What they don't tell you is that CarMax fails to get the safety recall repairs done before they sell cars to consumers.
CarMax sells ticking timebomb cars with safety defects like: catching on fire, brake failure, exploding air bags, axles that break, ignition switches that make cars die in traffic and disable the air bags, and other life-threatening safety defects.
CarMax says they're not authorized by auto manufacturers to perform safety recall repairs. So instead of taking recalled cars to other dealers who are authorized to do the repairs, for free, CarMax dumps the unsafe cars onto their customers.
Last year, CarMax took in over $10 Billion. They can easily afford to get recalled cars repaired for free or sell them to dealers who are authorized to perform safety recall repairs. They just don't care enough about their customers' safety to do the right thing.
CarMax needs to hear from consumers. Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers without getting the free repairs done first:
CarMax: Stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers
About the photo at the top:
On May 19, Angela and Clarence Davidson bought a used 2010 Dodge Ram from CarMax in Irvine, CA. With children at home and in college, and a 5-year-old grandson, they wanted a safe car. Because the car was "CarMax Quality Certified," they believed it was safe.
But after they bought it, Chrysler told them the truck was recalled over a year ago. The drive shaft was defective and likely to separate from the rear axle. CarMax had failed to get it repaired before selling it to the Davidsons.
When they tried to return it, Carmax refused, and told them it was now their problem, not CarMax's. So they took it to a Chrysler dealer for the safety recall repairs and thought it was fixed.
But on May 30, without warning, the truck fell apart on the freeway and caught on fire. The couple and their 12-year-old daughter barely escaped before the truck exploded into flames. It also caused a brush fire that closed down the freeway for about 4 hours.
They owned their “CarMax Quality Certified” truck just 11 days. Then it almost killed them.
Safety Groups Seek Federal Trade
Commission Curbs on CarMax Over
Sales of Recalled Used Cars,
For immediate release: June 24, 2014
Eleven major national consumer and safety non-profit organizations are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, over its sales of recalled used cars. In a petition filed at the FTC on Monday, the groups charge that:
CarMax advertises on its website, on television, in newspapers, and at its dealerships that each of the used vehicles it offers for sale are “CarMax Quality Certified” and has undergone a rigorous, “125+ point inspection.” However, CarMax fails to ensure that safety recalls are performed prior to selling used cars to consumers. As reported by the New York Times, “CarMax, the nation's largest seller of used cars, offers a “Certified Quality Inspection,” which does not include fixing [safety] recalls.”1
“Car dealers shouldn't sell used cars that have a safety recall to consumers, period. Far too many times we have seen the tragic and often fatal consequences when deficient cars are allowed on the road, and it's time for the FTC to do everything it can to put a stop to it,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York).
“CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers' lives,” said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), which spearheaded the petition. CARS is a national non-profit auto safety and consumer advocacy organization based in Sacramento, California.
Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers. CarMax recently played a major role in killing first-in-the-nation legislation2
that was pending in California, to prohibit car dealers from selling recalled used cars to consumers unless the safety recall repairs have been performed. In a letter to California legislators, opposing the bill, CarMax wrote that “Manufacturers safety recalls should be taken seriously by manufacturers, dealers, and consumers.” But CarMax stopped short of saying that it ensures that safety recalls are performed on vehicles they offer for sale. Instead, CarMax said that it “carefully advises its customers to register their vehicles with its manufacturer as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can be apprised of any future
recalls.” (Emphasis added.)
CarMax complained in their letter that “Unfortunately, manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls. Further, the manufacturers do not even grant independent auto dealers like CarMax access to their internal databases in order to search a manufacturer's website... This system is broken.”
Tyler Kidd, Counsel for CarMax, testified on Tuesday, June 17, before a legislative committee in Sacramento, and repeated CarMax's claim that the safety recall system for handling used cars “is broken.” He called for federal legislation to force auto manufacturers to allow non-franchised car dealerships like CarMax to perform auto safety recall repairs.
Under federal law, auto manufacturers are responsible for performing safety recalls, and work closely with their franchised dealers to oversee the repair process, often including providing specialized training for their dealers' auto technicians. CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers. The fact that CarMax is not permitted to make the repairs itself is no excuse for selling consumers unsafe, recalled cars-- particularly when CarMax advertises them as “Quality Certified” and as having passed a rigorous inspection.
In addition, CarMax's claims it cannot find out about vehicles' safety recall status ring hollow. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is easy for car dealers to check the safety recall status of used cars. In addition, as CarMax concedes in its letter opposing SB 686, NHTSA issued a final rule that takes full effect this August 14, to require ALL auto manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 vehicles a year to provide free, publicly accessible, VIN-searchable safety recall data on their own Websites, updated at least every 7 days.
On May 19, the CarMax store in Irvine, CA, sold Clarence and Angela Davidson a used 2010 Dodge Ram. The couple had chosen to buy from CarMax because they have a 12-year-old daughter and 5-year-old grandson, and wanted a truck that was safe. But within days, when the Davidsons contacted Chrysler about a feature they wanted, the manufacturer's customer service representative informed them that their newly purchased truck was under a federal safety recall and had a serious safety defect.
Chrysler recalled the truck in 2013 because it was prone to literally falling apart on the road. Chrysler notified truck owners that “The rear axle pinion nut on your vehicle may loosen...[and] cause the rear axle to seize or cause the driveshaft to separate resulting in a loss of motive power. Either situation could cause a crash without warning.”
When they tried to return the truck, CarMax told them they owned it, and it was up to them to get the safety recall repaired. “I feel like CarMax is saying that our lives aren't worth anything, because we're not buying a new car,” said Angela Davidson.
The Davidsons took the truck to a Chrysler dealership to have the safety recall repairs performed. A few days later, on May 30, when the Davidsons were riding in the Mojave Desert with their 12-year-old daughter in the back seat of the cab, the truck fell apart and caught on fire. Clarence pulled their daughter out of the back seat just seconds before the entire truck exploded into flames. The fire burned several acres and authorities closed the highway for about 4 hours. The charred remains of the truck have not yet been inspected by an expert, so it's not clear at this time whether the safety recall caused the incident. However, it is clear CarMax sold the Davidsons an unsafe, recalled truck.
CARS warns used car buyers to always check the Vehicle Identification Number of any used car they are considering BEFORE they agree to anything. Consumers can find up-to-date safety recall information on most auto manufacturers' websites, or by calling the manufacturer's toll-free number or a local dealer, and providing the VIN.
Links to documents, video of hearing:
US SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER URGES FTC TO CRACK DOWN ON USED-CAR DEALERS WHO CAN SELL CARS UNDER SAFETY RECALL TO UNWITTING CUSTOMERS
Consumer groups' petition to FTC:
Recall notice Chrysler issued regarding the Davidson's Dodge Ram:
Videotaped testimony of CarMax's Counsel before the California Assembly Business and Professions Committee:
Video of entire hearing on SB 686 (Jackson):
CarMax's letter of opposition to SB 686:
1 “Recalled Used Cars Roam Roads as Legislation Stalls,” New York Times, front page, May 9, 2014, by RachelAdams and Christopher Jensen. (Emphasis added.)
2 SB 686, authored by state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored by CARS. Due to opposition by CarMax, the California New Car Dealers Association and other independent auto dealers, SB 686 was defeated by a 3-4 vote, with 7 members refusing to vote (same as voting “no”).
Stop auto dealers from playing
"recalled used car roulette"
Pass SB 686 (Jackson)
Prevent car crash injuries and deaths
Create over 1,000 new jobs for Californians
Actor Damien Snow and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.
A Nissan dealer in Southern California sold Damien Snow this
unrepaired, recalled 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser with the same safety defect that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck,
as his first car, when he turned 18.
California new and used car dealers keep getting caught selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers. News reports by the New York Times, Good Morning America, and many local TV stations throughout the state have documented case after case where dealers are putting their customers' lives at risk in unrepaired recalled used cars.
At the same time, dealers are opposing legislation to stop this indefensible practice. Statewide polling
found that a whopping 88% of California voters favor banning car dealers from selling recalled used cars. So -- who will legislators listen to? Multi-millionaire car dealers who schmooze with them and contribute campaign cash? Or California voters?
Make your voice heard -- tell Sacramento politicians to stop car dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers
Senator Boxer, Cally Houck (Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck) and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps. All major rental car companies took Sen. Boxer's pledge, and are now working with Cally Houck and CARS to enact federal safety legislation.
Who is FOR this popular legislation? Consumer groups, safety organizations including SAFE KIDS California, State Farm Insurance Company (the nation's largest auto insurer), Hertz, Enterprise Rental Car Co., the Latino Business Association, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ((IAMAW), whose members include automotive technicians who perform safety recall repairs. According to the IAMAW, enactment of SB 686 will "create at least 1,000 new jobs for automotive technicians in California, performing safety recall repairs on the millions of vehicles that still have outstanding safety recalls pending."
Read here: Who is for, and who is against, protecting the public from unsafe recalled used cars?
California Car Dealers Caught on Camera
Selling Recalled Used Cars
Dealers selling used cars with open safety recalls
Good Morning America
April 2, 2014
Credit: Good Morning America (ABC News)
Good Morning America undercover investigation features Damien Snow of Beverly Hills, who bought a used 2004 PT Cruiser from a major franchised new car dealership in Los Angeles, when he turned age 18, as his first car. Before he bought it, Chrysler had issued a safety recall for that car, because it had the exact same defect that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck -- a power steering hose that was prone to igniting an under-hood fire, and causing a loss of steering. After Chrysler issued the safety recall, the PT Cruiser was owned by major new car dealerships for Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan. Then the Nissan dealership sold it to Damien. None of the dealerships bothered to get the safety recall repairs done.
Good Morning America also finds car dealers selling unsafe, recalled used cars, claiming they are safe -- including the Chevy Cobalt with the ignition switch defect that led to GM's massive safety recall and hearings before the US House and Senate.
Watch the story:
Priced to sell, but are recalled cars safe to drive?
2 Investigates found vehicles with open safety recalls being sold at several Bay Area used car lots.
KTVU-TV (Fox, Oakland and Bay Area)
May 12, 2014
They included vehicles with ignition switch recalls, recalls for power window switches that could catch fire and recalls for a tailgate that could break.
Recalled cars for sale
KOVR - TV (CBS, Channel 13, Sacramento)
February 3, 2013
KOVR News: Call Kurtis finds unfixed, recalled cars on
"CBS13 took its hidden cameras to used dealership lots in Sacramento to find out how commonplace these open-recall cars really are. A CBS13 producer easily found a dozen recalled cars at the three used car lots randomly checked in Sacramento. We found a Honda CR-V with a potentially dangerous airbag, a Toyota 4Runner with an accelerator pedal that could get stuck, and a Chevrolet Cobalt with fuel part prone to leak — a potential fire hazard.
Watch and read more:
CBS 13 finds a dozen recalled cars on used car lots in Sacramento
Used Cars Being Sold with Unfixed Safety Recalls
KABC-7 Los Angeles
December 3, 2012
ABC Eyewitness News finds cars for sale with unfixed recalls
"On a used car lot in Hawthorne recently, Eyewitness News found several cars that were for sale with unfixed recalls. One Cadillac Escalade had three unfixed recalls, a Nissan Altima had four and a Chevrolet Silverado had 15.
Experts said some dealers do go the extra mile. "Many dealers will bring a used car up to speed on its recalls before they sell it and actually if they do it's a sign they take really good care of their cars and probably really good care of their customers," said Jeannine Fallon of Edmunds.com.
The National Automobile Dealers Association said the responsibility is on vehicle owners and used car buyers to get recalls fixed. "To improve safety, The National Automobile Dealers Association urges vehicle owners to have recalled vehicles fixed as soon as possible," it said.
Watch ABC News Report: ABC 7 Eyewitness News
CARS asks -- So -- WHY buy from a dealer, when they don't even take care of safety recalls???
Los Angeles Times: California bill would require recalled cars be repaired before sale
By David Undercoffler and Jerry Hirsch
May 13, 2014
"Used cars that get recalled by manufacturers need to be fixed before they're sold. That's what a bill pending in the California Legislature would require of all new and used car dealers in the state. And with 2014 on pace to break the auto industry records for most recalls in a year, the bill is taking on more urgency, supporters said Tuesday at a news conference. A vast majority of those recalls involve older vehicles.
"This bill is absolutely critical for consumer safety, it's good for the economy and it puts California at forefront for car safety," said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill's sponsor
Her bill (SB 686) would prohibit new and used car dealerships — regardless of size — from selling a used vehicle "if the dealer knows or should have known" that it had been recalled by its manufacturer. The dealer would be required to have the issue fixed — a cost covered by the automaker — or sell it to another dealer."
Read more: LA Times: California bill would require recalled cars be repaired before sale
Los Angeles Times: OPINION
When car recalls don't achieve what they're supposed to
May 9, 2014
"As the New York Times reports, the U.S. recall system has a significant gap with serious consequences for consumers....One would think that car dealers and resellers would, as vehicles pass through their hands, check to ensure that manufacturer recall repairs have been made. But there is no law compelling them to do so, The Times reports...."
Read more: L.A. Times
Safety Recalls Don't Keep Used Cars Off the Road
National Public Radio -- Here and Now
May 9, 2014
by Robin Young and Paul Eisenstein
ROBIN YOUNG: "It's HERE AND NOW.
With all the outrage about ignition problems in GM vehicles, you'd think that the last thing a dealer would want is a recalled, un-repaired car. But think again. Used car dealers and rental car agencies are not required by [a specific federal] law to fix vehicles that have been recalled for safety reasons....[ However, dealers are prohibited from deceptive sales of unsafe, recalled used cars under broader federal and state statutes, and under common law.]
YOUNG: And we have been following this story in amazement. Do you find people shocked by this?
EISENSTEIN: I think they are shocked. If they knew about this problem they would be even more shocked. I think a lot of people just expect that when they buy a car or rent a car, that it is as safe as possible. Meaning if there's been a recall it's been repaired.
YOUNG: Well, in fact, we are reading in The New York Times today, which writes about this, that CarMax -- which is the country's biggest seller of used cars -- does have a certified quality inspection. But that doesn't include fixing recalls....
EISENSTEIN: It's really curious isn't it? Because when you look at NADA, National Automobile Dealers Association website, you'll find a statement from them that essentially says they support a law that would call for the recall and repair of vehicles before they were sold by, on the used car site. And yet, NADA has been fighting the bill, so it's both sides of the mouth.
They have all sorts of explanations for this, none of which are particularly good. Some of them say, Well, sometimes they say the law isn't written well and what have you.
And then they claim, well, it would be an extra burden for them when that corner used car lot and the like, they don't have to be subject to these mandatory recalls.
YOUNG: Well, but there - but...
EISENSTEIN: It seems to be a pretty weak, weak explanation."
Read More / Listen:
"National Public Radio: Safety Recalls Don't Keep Used Cars Off the Road"
Recalled GM cars still pose danger
New York Times
April 9, 2014
By Rachel Adams and Hilary Stout
"The rising debate over whether the cars pose a continuing danger reflects not only scattered episodes like Mr. Hughes’s accident but also a growing uncertainty and impatience about the timetable for repairs and the simple fact that for all the publicity...most of the unrepaired cars are on the road....
Malisa Norman, a 35-year-old home health aide in Latta, S.C., was unaware of the recall when she bought a used 2007 Cobalt in February - days after the recall was announced.
A few weeks later she was driving near her home when she says the car suddenly stopped running, veered off the road and hit a tree. The air bags did not deploy, and Ms. Norman says she and her 18-year-old son were injured in the accident.
Ms. Norman purchased the car from E-Z Credit, a used-car dealership in Dillon, S.C. She said she was never told that her car had been recalled. She happened to have only a small angel ornament hanging from her key ring, but she said she had not been told there were any issues with items on a key chain. Drivers have been told by G.M. that extra weight on the car’s key ring can make a shutdown more likely.
When she returned to the dealership to complain, Ms. Norman said she was told to watch the news for recall information.
“I was like, ‘I didn’t get the car from the news,' ” she said. “Why should I get this from the news when I ain’t paying the news?”
Debate Over Risk of Driving GM's Recalled Cars
Texas ranks first in used cars sold with unfixed safety recalls
February 3, 2014
by Deanna Dewbury
Texas ranks first in used cars sold with unfixed safety recalls.
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not 'have the legal authority to require used car dealers or individual consumers to have recalled vehicles fixed before resale,' the agency told the NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit...Last October, the DeSoto Fire Department rescued a family after a fire started in a pickup truck parked outside of the house and quickly spread to the home. 'I do really believe without DeSoto police department and fire department and the paramedics we would not be here,' said Rosalind O’Neal-Smith, who was rescued from the burning home along with husband and son....The pickup was a 2001 Ford F-150.
...investigators zeroed in on the cruise or speed control deactivation switch. The switch was the reason Ford recalled 16 million vehicles over a decade. Ford won’t discuss this specific case with us. The carmaker issued a recall for this truck one year before the Smiths bought it. And nobody ever fixed it."
Watch the video and read the article at NBCDFW.com
Auto dealers to California legislators:
Don't stop us from selling, renting, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars
Auto dealers and their lobbyists stalled popular, common-sense auto safety legislation in Sacramento aimed at stopping them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers. They complained that it's impossible for them to know whether the used cars they offer for sale to the public are subject to a federal safety recall. They told legislators that it's too much bother to check the safety recall status of used cars. They said it would take too much effort to get unsafe, defective used cars fixed, prior to sale -- even though the repairs are FREE. They also complained about having to delay sales if parts for repairing the safety defects are temporarily unavailable.
Their lobbyists refused to answer pointed questions posed by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), a former lemon law attorney with decades of experience representing owners of unsafe lemon vehicles. He asked them: "You sell them to people? Is that what you do? You sell a car that you know may be unsafe to someone?"
Dealer lobbyist: "But the part isn't available to fix. So is your suggestion..."
Dickinson: "Wait, wait. No. Answer the question."
Car dealers try to kill safety recall bill: caught on video
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the author of the measure, SB 686, spoke passionately about why it's important to ensure that used car buyers are provided the same protections afforded new car buyers. Under federal law, auto dealers are prohibited from dumping recalled NEW cars onto the public, until they're fixed, but there is no similar federal prohibition against dumping them on purchasers of USED cars. While there are broad, general federal and state statutes against engaging in such practices, some dealers continue to violate those laws. A more specific law that is easier to enforce is needed to get dealers to stop putting lives at risk by selling cars with lethal safety defects.
Fe Lastrella testifies about the horrific crash that claimed the lives of her
daughter, son, granddaughter, and son-in-law, and urges lawmakers to
enact SB 686, to help prevent other families from suffering such tragic losses
Tragically, even new car buyers are not safe. As Fe Lastrella of Vallejo, CA testified at the hearing, she lost four family members who were killed by an unsafe Lexus that Bob Baker Lexus in El Cajon, CA loaned to her son-in-law, CHP officer Mark Saylor. Earlier, he had purchased a new Lexus IS 250 sedan. On the fateful day of August 28, 2009, he dropped his new car off for repairs. The dealership loaned him a used 2009 Lexus ES 350. Three days earlier, another customer had complained that the Lexus had surged out of control. Yet the dealer failed to fix it.
Later that day, Mark Saylor was riding with his wife Cleofe Lastrella Saylor, their daughter Mahala, age 13, and his brother-in-law Chris Lastrella enroute to a soccer game. The loaner Lexus accelerated out of control and sped down the freeway, reaching speeds of 120 mph. Chris Lastrella called 911. That call has now been heard around the world. He told the dispatcher that "our accelerator is stuck." He reported that "we're going 120" as the runaway loaner car approached an intersection, where the freeway ended. The killer car hit another car, crossed the curb, hit a dirt embankment, became airborne, and then rolled into a dry creek bed, where it burst into flames. All four perished. At the very end of the call, Chris's voice is heard telling his family to "hold on" and "pray, pray, pray."
A car dealer in San Diego loaned this Lexus to CHP Officer Mark Saylor, while his new Lexus was being repaired. Hours later, he and his family were killed, when the loaner car accelerated out of control.
Dealers argue that even if this car had been under a safety recall, it should be perfectly legal for the dealer to loan it out -- without getting the safety recall repairs done first. Credit: NBC San Diego
Fe Lastrella, a retired school teacher, and her husband Cleto, who retired as a Command Master Chief from the U.S. Navy, lost their daughter, Cleofe, their son Chris, their granddaughter Mahala and son-in-law Mark Saylor in the crash.
According to investigations by the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an oversized, rubber, all-weather floor mat was in the driver's side foot well of the loaner Lexus. The mat was designed for a Lexus sport-utility vehicle, an RX 400H, and was longer than the mats designed for the ES 350 sedan. The investigations found that the floor mat was fused to the accelerator pedal.
Who is working to get the safety recall bill, SB 686, made into law?
Who is trying to kill the safety recall bill?
- Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (official sponsors, taking the lead in working with Sen. Jackson for enactment)
California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of SB 686, is working with CARS and other safety organizations to stop auto dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers
- Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
- California Public Interest Research Group
- California Nurses Association
- Center for Public Interest Law
- Children's Advocacy Institute
- Consumer Action
- Consumer Attorneys of California
- Consumers Union
- Consumer Federation of America
- Consumer Federation of California
- Consumer Watchdog
- Courage Campaign
- Enterprise Holdings
- Firefighters Burn Institute
- Hertz Corporation
- Latino Business Association
- National Consumers League
- SAFE KIDS CA
- State Farm Insurance Co.
- Trauma Foundation
- Retired New Car Dealer Salvatore Cerrito
- California New Car Dealers Association
- California Chamber of Commerce (their current president, Fritz Hitchcock, is a mega-dealer in Southern California)
- AutoNation (the country's largest auto dealership chain, which took in over $15.6 billion last year. AutoNation is based in Florida and owns many dealerships throughout California. One of AutoNation's largest investors is Bill Gates.)
Senator Jackson vowed to keep on fighting to outlaw auto dealers from engaging in "recalled used car roulette." The soonest SB 686 can be revived is next January. Meanwhile, the smartest thing to do is NEVER trust a car dealer to make sure any car you buy is safe. They have testified that they don't have a clue, and it's too much bother to check.
Should car dealers be allowed to sell, rent, or loan unsafe recalled used vehicles to consumers without bothering to get them fixed first?
According to a recent California statewide poll, a whopping 88% of the public says NO.
How can you get a good deal on a safe, reliable used car -- without having to set foot on a car dealer's lot? CARS tips
More news coverage:
Fatal Accident Sparks Debate at State Capitol
ABC 30 KFSN-TV Fresno, CA
Mother of Crash Victims Testifies in Support of Senate Bill
Fox 5, San Diego
Calif. Lawmakers slam brakes on used-car safety bill
NBC - KCRA-TV Channel 3 Sacramento
Bill spawned by CHP Officer's death stalls
San Diego Union-Tribune report