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 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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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
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