When shopping for a used car, you probably depend on assurances that the vehicle is safe, certified or inspected. These terms have become the hallmark of dealers who have tried for years to get consumers to place their trust in the used car industry - a historically dubious trade. Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle is a risk, and a recent legal settlement between several car dealerships and the Federal Trade Commission has just made it quite a bit riskier.
A recent decision by the Federal Trade Commission now allows used car dealers to advertise cars as safe or certified even if those cars have unrepaired safety recalls. No matter how certain the dealer is that the defect could injure or kill the driver or passengers in the car, the dealer can market the car as "inspected for safety."
Many safety advocates believe this practice will deceive many consumers into purchasing cars that are dangerous or even lethal. Some of the most common open recalls include:
- Brake failures
- Airbag explosions
- Alternator fires
- Power steering malfunctions
- Ignition switch defects
The decision to overlook these open recalls came because many used car dealerships are overwhelmed with recall defects they can't repair - such as the Takata airbags - or they do not have the parts or authorization to clear a recall. You may decide to purchase a used car from an authorized dealership, such as GM or Ford, but even they may be beginning to relax their standards for certified used cars.
Who is responsible when your pre-owned car causes injury?
Although the FTC ruling requires dealers to disclose to you any unrepaired recalls, you are still at risk when you drive the car off the lot. Cars are only recalled when the defects pose a safety hazard, and you cannot be sure that the dealer who sold you the car was even aware of the defects or recalls outstanding for that make and model.
If you or your loved ones were injured in a certified or inspected used car that had an unrepaired safety recall, you may be considering pursing legal action. Speaking with a personal injury attorney is the first step in determining who is responsible and what is the most effective course of action. Your attorney will assess your case and advise you how best to proceed.