How To Protect Yourself From Buying/Leasing A Recalled Vehicle

If the car you own has a recalled part, you receive a letter in the mail. In most cases, your local dealership has the replacement part. Unfortunately, sometimes the part is in short supply. In either scenario, the manufacturer notifies the owner, but what if the person bought the car after the fact? You would hope the car you are leasing or buying has no known issues, but that is not the case. Surprisingly no laws stop a dealership from putting defective cars on the road. So, what can you do to protect yourself from buying a defective car?

Do You Recall This Investigation

As previously investigated by the Chicago Sun-times, and then followed up recently, there are thousands of open recall used cars for sale throughout the US. The most recent investigation, which targeted a large chain car retailer found used cars marked as certified but had open recalls still. The recent reports come from a consumer advocacy group, which found 1 in 9 cars made available by the chain retailer had open recalls. Since the report was done on a single chain dealership, there likely are more openly defective vehicles being sold and on the road.


In Need Of Legislation

Unfortunately, there still is no federal law requiring auto dealers to fix vehicles before selling or leasing them. In fact, the dealership may not even look to see if the car hs an open recall and no laws say they must look them up. It may seem crazy that auto dealers would sell or lease used cars with defects; certain congressional members would agree. Both in 2017 and as recent as this past July, congress members pushed for the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act. As of right now, the bill is in its beginning stages, but the chances of it passing are slim to none. 

Only You Can Protect Yourself

So, if the law won’t protect you, and auto dealers feel comfortable selling you a vehicle with an open recall, the burden is on you. Yes, it is unfair to expect the consumer to protect themselves from buying damaged goods, but it’s the world we live in right now. The best ways to protect yourself from a bad purchase include using KellyBlueBook,, or asking the salesperson before the sale or lease.

However, consumers often assume the dealership has already fixed the issue with the car, but that is not the case. On top of that, if you are driving a car with an open recall it could lead to an accident. Although recalled vehicles don’t inherently yield higher insurance rates, an accident would likely raise your insurance rates.   

Why Dealerships Won’t Do it

Used car dealerships do not think they should be responsible for fixing the car’s issue. In some cases, the part that needs fixing is in short supply or is no longer produced. This makes a quick fix difficult, which makes selling it difficult as well. On top of that, the labor costs involved may make it unprofitable or difficult to sell. Yet, allowing the defective cars on the road is dangerous. Especially since those who buy a used vehicle do not receive notices in most cases. 

Take-Home Message

The best ways to protect yourself from buying/leasing a used vehicle with an open recall are Kelly Blue Book,, and asking the salesperson. Researching the used car you want to buy/lease helps you find any defects or repairs made. Hopefully, one-day federal legislation will pass that puts the burden on auto dealers. Until then, do your homework and get any pending recalls fixed before they become a larger issue.