In the market for a newer car, planning to buy used? Be mindful of cars with unrepaired (“open”) recalls that a private owner—or even a dealer—might be selling. Carfax, a supplier of vehicular history information since 1984, believes that greater than 20 percent of vehicles in the United States have an open recall against them. That’s more than 57 million motor vehicles. Many of them could be a risky purchase because the open recall means they could be dangerous to drive.
Who’s Not Fixing Their Car?
The current research, announced in late March, 2018, reveals that those living in the southern U.S. are more likely to let recalls remain unrepaired. Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas are home to some of the highest open recall percentages. It’s been estimated that one out of three Texas vehicles is being operated with an open recall. States with the greatest number of vehicles with open recalls are California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
The types of vehicles that are most likely to stay unfixed are the ones typically used by families and businesses, such as minivans, SUVs, and light trucks, suggesting that it may be an issue of not having the available time or money to get repairs done. Manufacturers usually pay for the costs of repairing a recalled vehicle, but sometimes, with a vehicle older than 10 years, you might have to foot the bill yourself.
Reasons to Take Care of an Open Recall
Recalls should be taken seriously, because all open recalls involve safety in some form. Recalls are issued only when a vehicle or vehicular equipment, including tires, has a safety-related defect or does not meet a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Unrepaired recalls can cause injuries, deaths, and, nationally, damage into the millions. Some examples of safety-related defects are:
- Air bags that could deploy incorrectly
- Steering components that could cause a loss of control
- Accelerator pedals that could stick
- Wiring defects that could cause fires
- Cooling fan blades that could break for no reason
- Fuel system component defects that could lead to fires, especially in crashes
- Seats or seatbacks that could fail without warning, causing a loss of control
- Wheels that could break or crack
- Critical vehicular components that could fall apart, separate, or break, causing a loss of control or injury to those in and out of the vehicle.
The risk is not only to you and your loved ones. Open recalls that are not repaired on others’ vehicles can cause a collision in which you or loved ones are injured through no fault of your own. Not heeding an open recall notice might be considered negligence if an injury-causing crash results.
Need Recall Information?
One of the problems with the recall system is that owners are notified only by postal mail. But people move, and people purchase vehicles from those who have moved, so the best way to find out whether a vehicle is affected by an open recall is to check the online database.
The federal government has provided a web site where you can look up any passenger vehicle online, including motorcycles, for open recalls as long as you have the vehicle identification number (VIN). However, be aware that recall notices more than 15 years old will not show up in your search, nor will safety recalls that are newer than 30 days. You can also check tires, other equipment, and car seats at the same site. Carfax does offer a free app allowing you to save information for up to eight vehicles and to receive recall alerts on your phone or other mobile device.
If you discover that the vehicle you want to buy has an open recall and a dealership is selling it, make sure they repair it properly. With a private owner, you’ll likely have to take care of it yourself. But for the reasons listed above, do not let an open recall go unfixed. Your life, and your family’s lives, could depend on it.
If you have reason to suspect that an injury-causing collision occurred because an open recall was ignored by the other vehicle’s owner, you might want to consider your legal options.
Motor Vehicle Crash? Turn to Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer
The Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler has been helping injured people in Maryland for more than two decades with all types of vehicular accidents. Steve’s thorough investigation will uncover the many potential defendants in your case, demanding just compensation for your medical expenses, rehabilitation, loss of income, and pain and suffering. If you have lost a loved one because of another driver’s—or a corporation’s—negligence, Steve can help your family recover.
You’d better believe that the at-fault party will be working hard to protect their interests. Contact Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer, to protect yours. Call us or use our online contact form today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.