C.A.R.S. in the News

CARS has generated and contributed to many award-winning news reports, and is often contacted by highly respected news media seeking expert commentary and contacts among consumers impacted by harmful auto industry practices, or their surviving family members. Among the news organizations who have published reports where CARS' president has provided expert information, leads, and perspective are:

New York Times, the Associated Press, Consumer Reports, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, ABC's 20/20, NBC's Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNN, Chicago Sun-Times, Detroit Free Press, San Diego Union-Tribune, Vox Media, Politico, Checkbook Magazine, Parade Magazine, Reader's Digest, National Public Radio, and numerous other news organizations.
 

CONSUMER ADVOCATES APPLAUD FTC FOR MOVING FORWARD WITH CARS RULE

December 12, 2023 | Press Release
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its final rule targeting deceptive conduct in the sale and financing of motor vehicles, titled the "Combatting Auto Retail Scams" (CARS) Rule.

After a decade of attempts to fix a broken auto marketplace, the FTC announced in July 2022 that it was pursuing an auto dealer rule aimed at ending bait and switch pricing tactics and junk fees in the form of worthless add-on products and services. After receiving over 25,000 comments from the public and widespread support for addressing auto dealer misconduct, the FTC has published its final rule, summarizing the comments and laying out its plan for the CARS rule.

"The time is long overdue for the FTC to level the playing field for car buyers and honest dealers," said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America. "The CARS Rule will bring some improvements to the auto market, and we look forward to working with the FTC to ensure that all consumers, especially those in vulnerable populations, are prioritized throughout the process."

The CARS Rule prohibits misrepresentations about key information, like price and cost, and requires dealers to provide the offering price, tell consumers add-ons are optional, and give information about the total payment when discussing monthly payments. The rule also prohibits dealers from charging for any add-on that has no benefit to the consumer.

"We applaud the FTC's efforts to help millions of Americans through the use of its rulemaking authority to bring a level of transparency to auto sales," said John Van Alst, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center and Director of its Working Cars for Working Families Project. "We look forward to continuing to work with state and federal policymakers to address discriminatory practices and bring transparency to the car sales and finance markets."

The Rule also includes clear protections for members of the military and their families who are targeted with deceptive information about whether dealers are affiliated with the military and face other issues specific to servicemembers.

"The FTC has taken the courageous step of addressing the top consumer complaint in the country: auto sales," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. "This rule should benefit both consumers and honest car dealers, who wrote in support of the proposed rule and complained about being at a competitive disadvantage because of unscrupulous car dealers who lure car buyers with false promises of low prices, then jack them up using sneaky tactics."

"Consumers are beyond frustrated with the deceptive practices some unscrupulous dealers use to jack up the price of cars," said Chuck Bell, advocacy programs director for Consumer Reports. "The FTC's new rule will protect consumers from shady bait and switch sales tactics and help ensure that car dealers provide fair and accurate prices for vehicle purchases."

The CARS Rule will take effect on July 30, 2024. The FTC has created new guidance for consumers to help them understand their rights when they buy a vehicle as well as guidance for auto dealers with advice to help them prepare for the rule to go into effect.

"We know all too well how car buyers across the country are ripped off by unscrupulous auto dealer sales and financing tactics," said Christine Hines, legislative director at National Association of Consumer Advocates. "We appreciate that the FTC has taken action to provide protections for consumers in this market."

"We are thrilled that the Federal Trade Commission has issued its CARS rule today bringing some badly needed consumer protections to Americans looking to buy or lease a vehicle," said Mitria Spotser, vice president and director of federal policy at the Center for Responsible Lending. "This rule will help curb dishonest sales and financing practices in the industry. The steep rise in automobile prices over the past few decades means we need to be doubly vigilant of junk charges and financing scams, especially given current interest rates."


 
 
 


"Used-car dealers keep selling vehicles despite safety recalls"
"We found dozens for sale"
"There’s no federal law to keep them from selling used vehicles with open, unaddressed recalls for defects that could kill you. What we found available might surprise you."
Chicago Sun-Times
November 26, 2023
By Stephanie Zimmerman
"Under federal law, a rental car company can’t hand a customer the keys unless all safety recalls have been repaired, but there’s no such requirement for consumers buying a used car [from a car dealer that isn't a rental car company].

Which means what’s being touted as a 'certified preowned' car on a dealer’s lot could still be a vehicle that has open, unaddressed recalls for safety issues like having a known fire risk or a problem with sudden acceleration. Those used cars could even be subject to an 'urgent, do not drive' recall because their airbag inflators might explode.
 
Cars with unrepaired safety recalls are being sold at car dealerships all across America.
 
When you buy toys, appliances, food or pharmaceuticals, you don’t face a similar risk because those can’t be sold in the United States if they’re under a recall.

'You can’t even sell a recalled consumer product at a yard sale,' says Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, which advocates for vehicle safety.

How widespread is the practice? To see, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter followed up on the newspaper’s 2019 investigation of open recalls and found dozens of used vehicles offered for sale on dealers’ websites and used-car listing websites over the past two months despite them being under recall for safety issues that the sellers hadn’t fixed....

[Under federal law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can crack down on car dealers who sell unrepaired recalled new vehicles, and rental car companies that rent or sell recalled used vehicles, but the agency lacks the authority to penalize other auto dealers who endanger car buyers and their families by selling hazardous recalled used cars. However, people who are harmed as a result, or their surviving family members, may be able to fight back under various state consumer protection laws.]

Efforts to change [the federal law that applies to car dealers] have failed amid pushback from an automobile industry that says fixing the recalled vehicles before putting them up for sale would be too burdensome and costly [even though auto manufacturers are required to provide safety recall repairs for free, for at least 15 years from when the vehicle is first sold].

Consumer advocates say that means it’s 'buyer, beware,' when you’re buying a used car.

'It’s the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night,' says Rosemary Shahan, president and founder of the nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

Cook County lawsuit pegged to recall

An unaddressed recall was the crux of the lawsuit that Ahmad Ismail filed in Cook County circuit court in August 2022 against Hyundai Motor America and a dealership that serviced the used 2013 Hyundai Sonata his father later bought.

Ismail said in the civil case that, although a recall was issued in September 2018 for a defect in the airbag control unit, it wasn’t addressed by the previous owner. The car wound up at a dealership in Indiana, where Ismail’s father bought it in April 2021, apparently unaware of the danger.

Eight months later, Ismail, then 24 and living in Orland Park, had a head-on collision on Michigan Street in Hammond, Indiana, in which the driver’s airbag didn’t deploy, according to his lawsuit. It says that, trapped in the car, he was badly injured, flown by helicopter to the University of Chicago Medical Center for surgery. As a result of the crash, he suffered 'permanent pain and suffering, disability, loss of a normal life' as well as faced medical and therapy bills, according to his lawsuit, which was settled out of court in September.

Ismail’s attorney Eugene Hardiman says he and his client won’t comment because of a confidentiality clause in the settlement.
 
....
 
Not unexpectedly, most [car dealer] websites play up the positive aspects of the vehicles. They include descriptions like '125-point inspection' or 'certified.'

Shahan says those can minimize potential dangers, that consumers are led to believe that being 'certified' or 'inspected' means a car is safe to drive even if it has a recall that poses a safety hazard.

'How can a car possibly pass this rigorous inspection if it has bad brakes or all these other [safety defects]?' Shahan says.
 
....
 
A notable exception is CarBravo.com, run by General Motors to promote its dealerships’ used-car inventories. When the site was launched last year, it promised that every car listed 'is certified and recall-free,' earning praise from the Consumer Federation of America.

Read more: Chicago Sun-Times: "Used-car dealers keep selling vehicles despite safety recalls"
 


 
Pro-consumer / auto safety organizations urge Governor Newsom to VETO
Bill backed by debt collectors and auto manufacturers
Unprecedented Attack on Low and Moderate Income Californians
NEWS for IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2023

Contacts: Rosemary Shahan, CARS, 530-759-9440
Michael Brooks, Center for Auto Safety, 202-328-7700 x 408
Megan Varvais, Public Justice, 510-566-7768
 
            SACRAMENTO, CA - A large coalition of leading non-profit consumer and auto safety organizations based in California and Washington, D.C. is urging Governor Newsom to veto legislation backed by debt collectors and auto manufacturers who seek to evade being held accountable for engaging in illegal debt collection practices or selling seriously defective lemon cars.

          The bill, SB 71, is authored by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) and co-authored by right-wing Republican Assemblymember Bill Essayli. SB 71 would significantly increase the dollar amount for legal disputes in “limited” civil courts, where consumers face numerous procedural barriers and often lack any legal representation, from $25,000 to $35,000.

          If SB 71 is enacted, millions of low and moderate-income victims of illegal debt collection practices or defective auto lemons would lose access to “unlimited” civil courts where currently they can get the legal discovery they need to prove their cases. Hapless consumers would also find it difficult or impossible to obtain legal counsel when they are up against giant corporations with legions of attorneys on their side.

          The Alliance for Automotive Innovation wrote in favor of SB 71 that it would “reduce litigation,” fulfilling one of the Alliance’s top priorities – denying auto lemon owners access to courts where the consumers almost always win.

          “No other California governor has signed legislation to weaken California’s landmark auto lemon law,” said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS). The original auto “lemon law” was signed into law by former Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970.

          Since then, Democratic Governors Jerry Brown and Gray Davis, and Republican Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger all signed legislation spearheaded by CARS to improve and expand California’s auto lemon law – including strengthening protections against lemons with life-threatening
 
 
 
 
safety defects, protecting small business owners and self-employed individuals such as real estate agents and landscapers who need safe, reliable vehicles to make a living and to keep their businesses afloat, and to protect active duty military personnel and their families who are stationed in or deployed from California, regardless where they purchased their lemon autos.

          “If Governor Newsom signs SB 71, auto lemon owners who buy defective cars in California for less than $35,000 will suddenly go from having some of the best lemon-aid in the country to having some of the worst,” said Michael Brooks, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.

          SB 71 also threatens to inflict disparate harm on Black and Hispanic consumers. According to research into California’s civil courts, "Cases filed in California courts to collect consumer debts disproportionately burden Black and Hispanic borrowers. Data drawn from civil court records show that claims to collect defaulted consumer debts are filed at a higher rate against borrowers of color than against white borrowers. The type of creditor also varies by the borrower’s race and ethnicity. Black and Hispanic litigants are also less likely to be represented by an attorney. The distribution of case participation and outcome also varies by race, with fewer answers filed and more judgments entered against Hispanic and Black defendants." 1

          Among the procedural barriers in “Limited” civil courts:
    ◦ Severe limitations on discovery
    ◦ Severe limitations on depositions (with rare exceptions, only one)
    ◦ Drastically reduced time period for filing appeals, from 60 days to 30 days
    ◦ Lack of access to appellate courts for appeals
    ◦ Lack of authority to provide injunctive relief
    ◦ Lack of access in many cases to civil penalties or punitive damages, which would otherwise serve to help deter violations of the law
    ◦ Arbitrary cap on damages that a jury or judge can award, even if appropriate damages would exceed the jurisdictional amount
The official Assembly Judiciary Committee analysis of SB 71 says that it is supposed to “provide an accessible forum for resolving minor civil disputes.” But as Megan Varvais, speaking on behalf of Public Justice, points out, “for most Californians, $35,000 is not a minor amount of money. California consumers need and deserve the full protection of the law.”

          According to J.D. Power, complaints about new motor vehicles have risen sharply, with more consumers complaining about problems due to faulty electronics and errors in software.

          Spanish-language information about SB71 and steps consumers can take to help make the case for a veto, provided by a prominent lemon law firm that represents many lemon owners.
_____________________

1 “The Unequal Burden of Debt Claims: Disparate Impact in California Debt Collection Cases,” by by Claire Johnson Raba, Debt Collection Lab, July 30, 2023, page 1. Posted at: https://debtcollectionlab.org/research/unequal-burden-of-debt-claims.

 
 
 
"California Advocates call for crackdown on sales of defective cars"
Public News Service
By Suzanne Potter
September 14, 2023
You can check if your vehicle has any open safety recalls, for free, at the NHTSA SaferCar website.
"Car dealers regularly advertise cars with unrepaired safety recall defects in California, even though it is illegal for dealers to sell or even offer for sale vehicles that do not comply with one of the hundreds of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

For example, a recent check of CarMax.com revealed a 2020 Lincoln Aviator for sale; a car under recall for intermittent failures of the backup camera which has no permanent fix.

Janette Fennell, president of the nonprofit advocacy group KidsandCars.org, is calling on the Department of Motor Vehicles, which licenses car dealers, to crack down.

'They can issue fines. They can suspend or revoke licenses. They could refer the cases to law enforcement agencies,' Fennell outlined. 'But the DMV has failed to exercise that authority. By allowing those blatant violations, they've endangered lives.'

The rule on backup cameras came about after drivers unwittingly backed up and hit children....

Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, urged people to enter the vehicle identification number into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database before they buy, to see if the car is under recall.

'Check the VIN, even if the company said that the vehicle passed an inspection, it may have a lethal safety defect that has been killing people,' Shahan stressed. 'And always insist that they fix it before you buy it. But with some of these recalls, there is no fix available yet." "

Read full report: Public News Service: California Advocates call for crackdown on sales of defective cars
 


"Consumer groups question bill to regulate car sales, repair"
Kiowa County Press
By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service
April 18, 2023
 
"Consumer groups are calling for changes to a proposed bill - needed to make sure drivers can continue to get free computer upgrades to repair serious car safety issues remotely. One of the provisions of California Assembly Bill 473 would forbid car manufacturers from competing with car dealers regarding sales or service.

Rosemary Shahan, president, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said the measure could have unintended consequences.

'So it's a concern that it could be construed to mean that consumers could no longer get over-the-air repairs from the manufacturer. They'd have to take their car into the dealership,' she said.

Over-the-air fixes are software updates that can be done remotely by the manufacturer....

The bill [is] sponsored by the California New Car Dealers Association. The group's president, Brian Maas, said he is open to amendments to make it clear that over-the-air safety fixes are allowed....

Shahan noted that car dealers are sponsoring similar legislation in multiple states."

Read full report: Kiowa County Press: "Consumer groups question bill to regulate car sales, repair"
 
 
"Is technology ready for self-driving cars? Some drivers have doubts"
KIYC-TV
April 13, 2023
By Walt Kane
Self-driving cars are using real roads as their testing grounds in many cases. Is it too soon? Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Self-driving cars are on the roads in some cities, and Congress is considering making it easier for car companies to do that. But is the technology ready? It's a glimpse into a future that's almost here.

In cities across America, fully self-driving vehicles are being road tested in pilot programs....

Automotive advocate Rosemary Shahan worries the technology is getting rolled out too fast.

“They should have to pass basic driving tests in all kinds of weather conditions,” Shahan said. “The industry is basically wanting to use us all as their guinea pigs.”

Shahan points to the well-publicized problems with Tesla's self-driving software. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating more than 40 crashes involving Tesla’s that were on autopilot, including one in Connecticut. Telsa has repeatedly said its cars are not fully autonomous, and autopilot "is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time."

View entire report: Bronx News 12: Is technology ready for self-driving cars? Some drivers have doubts.
 


"California is a hot spot for catalytic converter theft.
Will new laws make a difference?"
San Francisco Chronicle
By Grace Gedye
October 15, 2022 /updated December 14, 2022
Seth Sawyers came out to his car one day, to find that his catalytic converter had been stolen. Photo credit: Seth Sawyers via flickr, under the Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
"Catalytic converter theft has spiked across the country in recent years, from 1,298 reported thefts in 2018 to 52,206 in 2021, according to claims data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The bureau sampled member company claims data to identify catalytic converter theft trends, and a spokesperson wrote in a statement that the numbers don’t represent all thefts.....

Nationally, 37% of catalytic converter theft claims tracked by the bureau in 2021 were in the Golden State — a disproportionate share, even accounting for California’s large population. About 1,600 are stolen per month in California, per a 2021 presentation from the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair. Hondas and Toyotas, particularly older Priuses, are most often targeted, according to claims data provided by the AAA Automobile Club of Southern California....

[Among the bills aimed at curbing catalytic converter thefts] is SB986, which would require car dealers to etch a car’s unique VIN onto its catalytic converter if the converter is 'readily accessible.' It would also require a traceable method of payment for converters. [But SB 986] failed to pass a late August vote in the Assembly. That bill was sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and was aimed at making it easier for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute catalytic converter theft.

Car dealers, who would have been tasked with etching numbers onto converters, opposed the bill.

'It’s appalling that the manufacturers don’t just voluntarily put the VINs on the catalytic converters, because they know they’re a huge target,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a consumer advocacy nonprofit [that supported passage of SB 986]."

Read the full report: San Francisco Chronicle: "California is a hot spot for catalytic converter theft"
 


"Consumer Groups Slam Settlement with CarMax"
Public News Service
Suzanne Potter, Producer
December 13, 2022
 
"Auto safety consumer groups are blasting a recent settlement between 36 states and CarMax - which fined the company $1 million for claiming its cars are safe, when some of them are under manufacturer safety recalls and have not been repaired. California did not sign onto the agreement and has laws that allow consumers to sue in such cases.
 
Staff and supporters of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety protested at the CarMax location in Roseville in 2014, the same year that the lawsuit was filed (Mike Norris/CARS)
 
Rosemary Shahan is president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), based in Sacramento.

'It's going to make it easier for CarMax to get away with claiming their vehicles have passed a 125-point inspection without repairing deadly safety recall defects, as long as they don't use the word "safe" or "repaired for safety," ' Shahan said....

She added many of the defects are no small matter.

'They're being recalled for safety defects,' she said, 'such as the wheels fall off, they catch on fire, the steering wheel falls off in your lap, the hood flies up in traffic. Or it has Takata airbags, which have been killing people here in California and all over the country.'

CarMax reported revenues of $33 billion in the fiscal year that ended August 31st."

Read more: Public News Service: Consumer Groups Slam Settlement with CarMax
 


"California is a hotspot for catalytic converter theft.
Will new laws make a difference?"
Cal Matters
by Grace Gedye
October 13, 2022
 
"A disproportionate share of catalytic converter thefts happen in California. Here’s what lawmakers are trying to do about it, and why one law-enforcement backed approach didn’t make it out of Sacramento....

Catalytic converter theft has spiked across the country in recent years, from 1,298 reported thefts in 2018 to 52,206 in 2021, according to claims data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The bureau sampled member company claims data to identify catalytic converter theft trends, and a spokesperson wrote in a statement that the numbers don’t represent all thefts.

California hasn’t been immune.

Nationally, 37% of catalytic converter theft claims tracked by the bureau in 2021 were in the Golden State — a disproportionate share, even accounting for California’s large population....

In April, staff at Yolo Food Bank in Woodland realized a catalytic converter had been stolen from a Prius they use to make small deliveries. Staff used their own cars to drop off food while the Prius was out of commission, said Maria Segoviano, director of marketing communications at the food bank.

The organization paid about $400 for a shield to protect the converter and began parking the car inside its warehouse. And, because this wasn’t the first time they’d had someone break through a wire fence to get to their parking lot, they decided to invest in an heavy-duty, 8-foot fence.

It set them back $69,200 — which translates to about 81,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables, Segoviano said....

  SB 986 would require car dealers to etch a car’s unique VIN number onto its catalytic converter if the converter is “readily accessible.” It would also require a traceable method of payment for converters.

...[SB 986] failed to pass a late August vote in the Assembly. That bill was sponsored by the Los Angeles district attorney’s office [and supported by CARS] and was aimed at making it easier for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute catalytic converter theft. Car dealers, who would have been tasked with etching numbers onto converters, opposed the bill.

The bill’s author, democratic state Senator Tom Umberg from Garden Grove, said he was 'honestly shocked,' in a statement after the bill’s failure.

'I’m not surprised that the auto dealers and car manufacturers would be reluctant to take on this task to support their customers — we engaged in multiple conversations with them in the last seven months. Frankly, I’m more surprised that the majority of the California State Assembly chose the concerns of the car dealers over the cries of help from their constituents.' "

'I kind of think it's appalling that the manufacturers don't just voluntarily put the VINs on the catalytic converters because they know they're a huge target,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a consumer advocacy non-profit.

Read more: Cal Matters: California is a hotspot for catalytic converter theft. Will new laws make a difference?

Lea este artículo en español.
 
 
"Electric Vehicles Jump in Popularity; Prices Jump Too"
Public News Service
By Suzanne Potter
October 21, 2022
 
"Electric vehicles now make up almost 18% of the car-buying market in California. That's up 42% from 2021, according to the latest data from the California Energy Commission.

Right now, low-income buyers can get up to $9,500 in grants and rebates. But Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said these rebates become meaningless when dealer markups are out of control.

'Some of them are charging $50,000, $60,000 or even more, over the manufacturer's suggested retail price, the sticker price,' she said, 'and we're concerned that whatever rebates people get can just be swallowed by the dealers.'
....
 
Proposition 30 on California's November ballot would raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for more rebates on zero-emission vehicles, build more EV charging stations and fund wildfire prevention. But Shahan said more rebates could motivate dealers to raise their prices even more, unless the California Air Resources Board moves to cap prices.

'If they want taxpayers to help fund those transactions, and assist low- and moderate-income consumers into getting into cars, to make them more affordable,' she said, 'they have to [actually] be more affordable'."

Read more: Public News Service: "Electric Vehicles Jump in Popularity; Prices Jump Too"
 
 
"Consumer Group Presses for Better Protections
for Used Car Buyers"
Public News Service
July 11, 2022
by Suzanne Potter
 
"Consumer advocates are out to stop cars with unrepaired recall defects from winding up with new owners.

Federal law bans car dealers from selling unrepaired new cars and rental agencies from selling or renting them. Now consumer activists want the feds to forbid car dealers to sell at retail used cars with unrepaired safety recall defects.

The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act would allow the feds to fine dealers that sell unrepaired recalled used cars, even if no one has suffered damages or been harmed.

Rosemary Shahan, president of the California based nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said these cars are ticking time bombs.

'In the case of the Takata airbags, they've killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more,' said Shahan. 'And as time goes on, and the vehicles get older, they're much more prone to having this problem.'

Shahan singled out CarMax, the largest retailer of used vehicles in the nation, because they sell cars with unrepaired recalled safety defects, once they pass a 125-point safety inspection....

Years ago, Shahan said, her group filed a complaint against CarMax with the Federal Trade Commission, but the FTC ruled they can keep advertising the cars as 'safe' as long as they make the disclosure. 'It's very deceptive, especially when they're advertising that the vehicles have passed an inspection,' said Shahan. 'How could it possibly pass inspection, when it has unrepaired safety recall defects?'

Shahan encouraged all prospective car buyers to check the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website to find out whether the car is under recall, and if so, walk away."

Listen to / read full report: Public News Service: "Consumer Group Presses for Better Protections for Used Car Buyers"
 
 
"Used-car certifications often not meaningful"
 
"Dealers promise rigorously inspected rides and peace-of-mind warranties, but we found some consumers get rebuilt wrecks and even a former crash-test vehicle."
Consumers Checkbook
By Anthony Giorgianni
May, 2022
 
"Most used-car shoppers find the process a stressful ordeal filled with possible perils. They worry they'll end up with an unreliable vehicle, and they don't feel comfortable dealing with car salespeople: A 2022 Gallup poll found them to be the second-most-hated profession in the U.S.; only lobbyists fared worse. Worst of all, supply-chain problems for new-car factories have created a surge in demand for used ones - during the first quarter of 2022, average prices for secondhand rides were up 35 percent compared to the previous 12 months. Competition is so stiff that many used cars are purchased sight unseen by desperate buyers.

To reassure used-car buyers worried about getting stuck with a lemon, manufacturers in the 1990s began offering "certified" used cars. They're marketed as the crème de la crème of the secondhand auto world and even come with manufacturer-backed warranties.

But our research uncovered that certified labels don't guarantee vehicles won't have serious hidden mechanical or structural problems. We were astonished by some of the flaws we discovered, many that should have been noticed during promised inspections. We also found certified cars that were totaled wrecks that were rebuilt and resold, and even an SUV previously owned by the government and used in crash tests."
 
....
 
Buying a manufacturer-certified car may not be worth the extra cost. While these programs are generally well-conceived, their warranties are often lacking, and their dealers too often certify cars with serious problems....

'The term "certified" gets bandied about all the time—certified mechanics, certified cars. They self-certify to their own standards, and it's really just a way to make you feel you are getting a superior product when you're not,' said Rosemary Shahan, founder and president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS)....

Another common complaint was the sale of certified used cars with unresolved safety recalls. In a previous investigation, we found that used cars are commonly sold without first addressing known, life-threatening defects.

In 2020, Los Angeles-based consumer attorney Denise Foley settled a lawsuit that accused a Mercedes dealer of selling a used 2015 C250 sedan with an undisclosed recall involving a dangerous passenger-side airbag. The recall notice warned that the airbag could unleash metal fragments during deployment, injuring or killing vehicle occupants.

During the sale, the lawsuit said, the dealer showed the customer a two-month-old car history report that predated the recall and thus failed to show it.

The lawsuit alleged that when the customer returned after learning about the recall, the dealer acknowledged knowing about it at the time of sale but said that a replacement airbag wasn't available. Even worse, the dealer told her she'd still likely have to wait months for a repair, assuring her that the $29,000 car was safe to drive in the meantime.

The consumer, who asked not to be identified, said she and her husband continued to use the car, but only sparingly. 'That caused us tremendous anxiety, and we didn't let anybody sit in the front passenger seat,' she said.

As part of the settlement, the buyers received an undisclosed sum and returned the car."

Read the full report: Consumers Checkbook, May, 2022: "Used-car certifications often not meaningful"
 
 
New report shows which carmakers are sued the most using California's auto Lemon Law
KPBS Public Broadcasting Service, San Diego
May 24, 2022
by John Carroll
 
"In California, cars — and trucks — are king, with tens of millions out on the road. And in San Diego, many residents have to own one to be able to live and work.

But what happens when you buy a new car or truck, and it turns out to be a 'lemon?'

Today, three nonprofit public interest research groups published a report showing which auto manufacturers were sued most often under the law from 2018 to 2021. Topping the list is General Motors with one lawsuit for every 78 cars sold in the state. Toyota was sued the least with one suit for every 2,029 cars sold here....

'The auto manufacturers constantly are attacking California's Lemon Law,' Rosemary Shahan said during a webinar held on Tuesday to announce the findings of the report.

After buying a car that turned out to be a lemon back in 1982, Shahan successfully pressured lawmakers to put more teeth into California's Lemon Law. She said the automakers that are sued the most under the law are the ones who try on a regular basis to get it repealed. But Shahan added that lemon lawsuits are filed on less than 1% of the vehicles sold in California.

'When you hear from auto manufacturers that there's too much lemon litigation, it should be taken with an enormous, enormous grain of salt,' she said.

Watch report: KPBS News: "New report shows which car companies are sued most using California's Lemon Law"
 
 
"Active recalls on hundreds of thousands of Tennessee vehicles"
"News4 Investigates shows you what you need to do before buying
your next car"
WVLT (NBC) Nashville, TN
March 21, 2022
Reporting by Lindsay Bramson
"NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tens of millions of vehicles are recalled and taken off the roads every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

News4 Investigates found car dealerships in Tennessee can sell many vehicles with active recalls, and they don't have to tell you.

Jason Turnage bought a Dodge Ram from a Chrysler dealer, that had an unrepaired safety recall defect that could cause a crash.
News4 Investigates found out what you need to know before you buy your next car, and its advice Tim Rice wants others to take after his experience last year.

'It's a beautiful, beautiful car,' Rice, who bought his dream car in 2021, a black Mercedes Benz S 580 sedan, said. Rice couldn't wait to get his his hands on the car.

'Finding these cars is really, really difficult,' he said.

Just weeks after he brought it home, Rice received a letter in the mail alerting him to a safety recall related to the engine that could result in a crash.

'I have a wife and grandchildren. I don't want to be in a car I don't feel is safe,' Rice said....

'Tennessee is one of two states that has the worst auto safety laws in the country when it comes to vehicle safety recall defects,' Rosemary Shahan, President of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), said.

Shahan said in Tennessee dealerships just have to put it somewhere in the documents that there is an unrepaired safety recall.

In most states the law requires dealerships to fix cars before they leave the lot.

Currently, just in Nashville, more than 600,000 vehicles have open recalls on them, according to Carfax.

Here's what you need to do so you don't end up with a car with an active recall.

Every car has a VIN on the inside of the car door. Even if you're looking at cars online, you can take that VIN and go to the NHTSA website and find out for free if it has any recalls.

'Insist that, whether you're buying from a dealer on a private party that they get that safety recall fixed before you put your family in that car,' Shahan said."

Watch news report: WVLT-TV Nashville: "Active recalls on hundreds of thousands of Tennessee vehicles"
 


"GM's used-car megastore is poised to get a leg up on
the competition. Here's how"
Detroit Free Press
By Jamie L. LaReau
March 16, 2022
 
"General Motors is set to raise the bar in the world of used-car sales when it launches its CarBravo site this spring.

GM spokesman Sabin Blake told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday that the automaker will require its dealers to check for open recalls on a used car listed on CarBravo, not once but twice. If there is an open recall, the dealer cannot sell the vehicle until it is repaired.

'It is an unwavering CarBravo requirement for dealers to check recall status at least twice to make sure customers do not get into vehicles with open recalls,' said Blake.

To buyers, that might sound like a no-brainer, but there is no federal law prohibiting dealers or private parties from selling a used vehicle with an open recall on it...

Other giant used-car platforms such as CarMax and Carvana sell used cars with open recalls, but say they do disclose such recalls to potential buyers.

'It is unique and it's about time,' said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. 'It's great that it's GM because they're huge and they can really set the standard and I hope they really tout this and let people know that they're screening out these unsafe cars and their competition isn't. I hope it gives them a competitive advantage.'
 

Upcoming rollout

GM introduced CarBravo in January. The website will list all the used-car inventory across GM's participating dealerships as well as used cars owned by GM and its finance arm, GM Financial. CarBravo will include used vehicles of any brand too.

GM will be enrolling its 3,800 U.S. dealers in CarBravo over the next couple of months before launching the site in a regional rollout late in the second quarter.

Blake said CarBravo will require dealers to check a vehicle's recall status prior to listing the vehicle on the site. The CarBravo program will accept only vehicles without an open recall.

But, said Blake, it is possible a new recall could be issued between the time CarBravo lists a vehicle and the time a customer looks to buy it.

'To guard against that, GM dealers are required to again check for open recalls — and repair them if one turns up — before delivery to the customer,' Blake said."
 
....
 
'There is no federal law that prohibits dealers, who are not rental companies, from selling unrepaired used cars,' Shahan said. 'We're hoping to close that loophole.' "

Read More: Detroit Free Press, by Jamie LaReau: "GM's used-car megastore is poised to get a leg up on the competition. Here's how"
 
 
Why auto lenders suddenly face more legal risk
American Banker
by Polo Rocha
February 9, 2022
 
A recent action by the Federal Trade Commission may prompt more lawsuits against banks - and bigger payouts to plaintiffs - in situations where consumers have been defrauded by auto dealers.

"The FTC's move involves an obscure consumer protection rule from the 1970s, but its effects are likely to be substantial. It could result in lenders being on the hook more often for defrauded borrowers' legal costs, particularly in cases where the car dealership has shut down and customers have nowhere else to turn for a refund....

Consumer advocates hope the FTC's opinion and the California Supreme Court case will push auto lenders to vet the dealers they work with more closely.

Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said lenders should be ensuring that used-car dealers are not selling vehicles that are listed as totaled in a federal database.

'If they see a pattern there of dealers selling these totaled vehicles, that's a red flag,' Shahan said."

Read More: American Banker: Why auto lenders suddenly face more legal risk
 
 
"Battle Shaping Up over CA Lemon Law"
Public News Service
January 24, 2022
by Suzanne Potter, Producer
 
"Consumer advocates are speaking out against a proposed ballot initiative that would reform California's so-called 'Lemon Law.'

Current law allows people who have been defrauded or sold a defective product to sue for damages plus attorney's fees. The ballot initiative would limit the plaintiff's attorneys to 20% of the amount recovered.

Longtime activist Rosemary Shahan is the founder and president Sacramento-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. She said that change would hobble the victims but says nothing about the amount big companies can spend to defend the suits.

'It would make it practically impossible for consumers to get an attorney and fight back in court when they've been victimized by a really unsafe product or fraud,' said Shahan.

Read more: Public News Service: Battle Shaping Up over California Lemon Law
 
 
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CARS is a national, award-winning,
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DANGER!!!
 
CarMax sells cars with
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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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