Many Virginia car buyers recognize the perks of purchasing used vehicles. Unlike new vehicles (which can quickly depreciate in value), used cars can be purchased at a fairly low price, even some with low miles.
There is a drawback to buying a used car. It may come with defects that are never disclosed by the dealer. Some used vehicles could have an open safety recall that is neither fixed nor disclosed prior to purchasing.
Virginia's used car lemon laws allow buyers to return defective cars and get a refund within 18 months of purchasing. When it comes to safety recalls, however, no state or federal law currently exists requiring used car dealers to make repairs or act in good faith. Any existing laws apply exclusively to new cars.
How likely am I to buy a used car with an unrepaired recall?
According to a report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the danger is widespread. AutoNation, a used car company that considers itself "America's Largest Auto Retailer," was the focus of the study.
After surveying more than 2,400 used cars sold during the months of July and August at 28 of the company's locations, researchers found something rather alarming. Approximately 285 of the company's used vehicles were found to have unrepaired safety recalls — including the defective Takata airbags and General Motors ignition switches that were responsible for hundreds of crash fatalities.
Unrepaired recalls were found at each of the 28 locations across 16 metropolitan areas. Some of the recalls identified in the study had no available remedy. That means that car buyers would have to wait months before having a defect repaired.
How can I protect myself when buying a used car?
The study focused only on AutoNation. So, the true number of unrepaired recalls in cars being sold at used car lots is likely much greater. There ways you can protect yourself when purchasing a used car, however.
You can start with these safety tips offered by the Virginia State Police:
- Always check a used car for open safety recalls before buying.
- If you own a car, periodically check for any safety recalls that appear.
You can search for safety recalls at the NHTSA website by entering the car's vehicle identification number (VIN), which is located where your driver's side dashboard meets the windshield.
If you were involved in a crash due to an unrepaired recall, it's important that you seek medical attention. Then, speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The legal team at Davis, Davis, Davis & Davis, PC can launch a thorough investigation into your crash, fight to hold negligent parties accountable, and negotiate with insurance companies to maximize your compensation.
To schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys, contact us online or call (540) 483-5221.