Who Should Fix Recalls on Used Cars?


Automotive recalls have been a revolving theme in the auto industry for the last few years thanks to some epic fails by Toyota, General Motors, Takata, and many more. If you bought a new car recently, odds are good that you’ve received a recall notice.

Some recalls can happen for minor issues that amount to nothing more than a minor nuisance, while others can be for potentially life-threatening problems that need to be fixed immediately. Owners are usually notified about recalls through the mail or electronic communications from the automaker.

How would someone know, though, if a car he or she is considering has had a recall? People shopping for cars can check for recalls using the VIN lookup tool offered on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, though, whose responsibility is it to disclose, and repair, unfixed recall items?

A controversy is brewing between a popular used car dealer and its customers. The dealer says that customers have the responsibility to check for recalls and have them repaired, while customers say the dealer shouldn’t sell a car that hasn’t had recalls fixed.

In a story on the topic, one car buyer said,

Why would they let me drive off without fixing it? Had I not asked about the recalls, I’m pretty sure the salesperson would not have pulled up those recalls to show me.

The dealer group says it posts links to the NHTSA site and discloses needed repairs, but also says customers should get those repairs done immediately after purchasing the vehicle.

What ever happened to people advocating for themselves?

Used car dealers aren’t required to make any repairs. It’s the responsibility of the buyer to make sure the car he or she wants to purchase is satisfactory. That said, recalls are typically repaired at no charge, so it’s not a big deal to purchase a vehicle from a used car dealer, then take it to another dealer for recall work.

Don’t assume that a car is trouble-free just because it’s on a used car dealer’s lot. Check for recalls on any car you intend to purchase and have it thoroughly examined by a mechanic, then use any findings in your negotiation process.

What do you think: Whose responsibility is it to have recalls fixed on used cars?


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