Is a car dealership allowed to sell you a vehicle that has open unrepaired recalls?
In Georgia, the simple answer is yes. A dealership is under no legal obligation to make sure that used cars sold on their dealership’s lot have had all of the open recalls/unperformed recalls fixed. Recalls are significantly more common than one might think. For example, according to autonews.com, Hyundai and Kia recalled nearly 1.7 million vehicles in the U.S., citing a problem with their Theta GDI engine that raised the risk of crashes. In Georgia, used car dealerships can sells these vehicles to a consumer who has no knowledge of the recall, and not be held liable for doing so. Below is a great example of used car dealership’s attitude towards selling cars with open recalls:
Recently, The Georgia Attorney General entered into a consent order with Carmax that dealt with Carmax selling cars with open recalls while claiming they had performed safety inspections. Carmax Board Chairman and former CEO Tom Folliard was asked a question at the Florida Tech Forum about how Carmax deals with recalls. His response was, “Right. So she asked how we do with the recalls. That’s a really good question. We’re not a manufacturer, so we can’t fix recalls. What we want to make sure we do is be completely transparent with the customer. So every single car that’s sold in our store, the salesman walks you through a process, where they have to show you how do you register with the manufacturer, how can you find out if that car has a recall, and we’ll help you make an appointment if you have to go and get that recall taken care of. So, recalls have become a much bigger story. We’ve kinda been dealing with them for a long, long, long time. But the best we can do is be super transparent. It’s not really realistic to say you won’t sell a car with an open recall. You’d be surprised how many cars on the road today have open recalls. Many of them are not really safety issues, they’re just open recalls. But because of all the consumer movement around it, they’re all considered safety recalls. So we don’t not sell a car that has a recall. We just make sure we’re transparent with the customer.”
In sum, before you are buying a used vehicle, make sure that you go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls to enter the vehicle’s VIN number and check for recalls that are still open on the vehicle and to see if that vehicle has had the recall corrected. Otherwise, you could be left with problematic vehicle and no recourse.