Legislation Protects Used Car Dealers but Endangers Drivers

Used Car Dealers

As if U.S. drivers don’t have enough challenges on the roadways with distracted drivers, drunk drivers, endless traffic, road rage, and construction sites that go on for miles, now there’s something else we need to worry about: used cars involved in a recall that are sold to unsuspecting drivers without being fixed first and without the car buyer being sufficiently warned about the vehicle’s defect.

After a barrage of vehicle recalls in recent years for everything from bad ignition switches to airbags that explode and send shrapnel flying into people’s bodies, used car dealers came up with a plan to avoid the certain deluge of lawsuits that would come from people hurt or killed while driving a defective vehicle that had been involved in a recall sometime before it was sold to an unsuspecting buyer.

Model Legislation—Dangerous for Car Buyers

Auto dealers created what is known as “model legislation” that would allow them to sell recalled cars as long as they disclosed open recalls to customers somewhere in the pile of sales documents required at the time of purchase. You know those documents that very few people read because they have just spent hours or even days car shopping and they’re too exhausted to even think about reading the mountain of paperwork they’re required to sign to drive the car home. Auto dealers then used hundreds of lobbyists in 43 states to get the measure passed.

According to an article in USA Today, in the past five years, versions of the model legislation created by auto dealers have been introduced in 11 states at the time of this writing: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. While only Tennessee and Pennsylvania have adopted them at this point, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York still have measures being considered.

The article explains, “The success of auto dealers’ effort is a case study in how special interest groups with deep pockets go from state to state with model legislation – copy-and-paste measures that can be handed to friendly lawmakers in any state – to get the policies they want, often with little public scrutiny and sometimes with tragic consequences.”

Basically, the legislation states that used car dealers can sell as many recalled vehicles as they want as long as they disclose in the paperwork that the car was part of a recall and that used car seller never fixed the vehicle. You can probably imagine how fine the print would be when it comes to disclosing this tidbit of information. The used car dealer then goes on his merry way knowing full well he has sold a vehicle to a nice family with what could be a deadly defect that could cause an accident resulting in multiple fatalities. Since the fact that the car was recalled is buried deep in the paperwork, the car dealer has satisfied his legal obligation to disclose the problem with the car.

Consumer advocacy groups encourage people to read about this type of legislation, and if the state in which you live has already passed this legislation or is in the process of doing so, do something to let your politicians know how you feel about these dangerous bills. Consumer advocates say the bills are a “cynical ploy” that require the “bare minimum of responsible behavior on the part of auto dealers—to disclose open recalls to customers—while leaving out any requirement for them to actually fix the defects that led to the recalls.”

The legislation lets auto dealers prevent lawsuits by saying that with recall disclosure in the paperwork required for a purchase, it’s legal to sell recalled used cars.

Lynn Fugaro About Lynn Fugaro

Lynn has been writing web content since 2007 after a lengthy career as a middle school English teacher and administrator. Writing web content seemed a natural progression following a career teaching adolescents about the beauty and the power of the written word, and she quickly got hooked on the challenge of writing SEO- and reader-friendly content that could be found on Page 1 of Google and other search engines.

Having written content for physicians and attorneys for the first few years of her writing career, Lynn has most recently produced original, informative, entertaining, and relevant content for the entertainment industry, the automotive industry, senior communities, pet rescues and numerous other businesses hoping to increase website traffic and page views for all clients looking for informative, vibrant content.