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Senators Blumenthal, Markey, Warren, and Klobuchar Address the >70 Million Vehicles Currently on the Road with Open Recalls


Source: Consumer Federation of America

The Used Car Safety Recall Act Will Save Lives

Washington D.C. — In the past 10 years, nearly 300 million vehicles have been recalled for potential safety defects. Only 75% of those recalls have been addressed, leaving over 72 million vehicles on the road with open recalls. “This could be the vehicle you’re driving, the one next to you on the highway, or the one you are considering buying,” said Jack Gillis, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America and author of The Car Book.

As consumers venture back into the car market, used cars remain the most popular choice with about 75% of sales. The potential danger associated with open recalls increases with the age of the vehicle with about 56% of recalled vehicles 5-10 years old having open recalls and 71% of the recalls associated with vehicles over 10 years old still uncorrected. These figures become even more disconcerting with the steadily increasing age of America’s vehicle fleet, now standing at an average of 11.4 years. “Without major intervention by the Federal Government, consumers will increasingly be put at risk,” said Gillis.

A key reason for poor recall completion rates on older vehicles is, unlike new car dealers, who may not sell vehicles with open recalls, used car dealers have no such requirement. “Even though these recalls can be addressed at no cost to the seller, used car dealers are fighting a simple requirement that would protect the 75% of us who can’t afford to buy a new car,” said Gillis. “Senators Blumenthal, Markey, Warren, and Klobuchar’s Used Car Safety Recall Act will be a giant step forward in eliminating the estimated 72 million vehicles with open recalls on the nation’s roadways. Not only will this bill protect used car buyers, but it will put significant pressure on the car companies to meet their obligation to correct the defects in the vehicles they’ve manufactured. The Used Car Safety Recall Act will put enormous pressure on the carmakers to fix their potentially defective vehicles.”

This already dangerous situation is compounded by the still ongoing COVID-19 crisis. With states and communities across the country re-opening, many consumers who previously relied on public transportation are (unfortunately) opting to purchase a vehicle. Particularly tragic is the fact that the greatest percentage of vehicles purchased by low-income consumers are used, which means that they will likely be sold a disproportionate share of open recall vehicles.

“The automobile recall program is one of the government’s most important auto safety functions, but to be truly effective, car dealers should not be allowed to sell vehicles with known and correctable defects. Simply put, profiting from the sale of any product with a known defect is unconscionable,” said Gillis. “Passage of this important auto safety legislation will close a gaping safety loophole in federal law once and for all.”

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

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