The Trouble With Recalls (And It’s Not What You Think)

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The Trouble With Recalls (And It’s Not What You Think)

In the wake of millions of vehicle recalls over the past few years, the U.S. Senate is advancing a proposal that bans the sale of used vehicles with open recalls. Auto dealers and consumer advocate groups are duking it out in Washington, stalling the proposal in typical bureaucratic fashion.

Are All Recalls Created Equally?

Some recalls require immediate action; others, not so much. For instance, a defective airbag that launches shrapnel into vehicle occupants is slightly more important than, say, a defective sidelight. Auto dealers are fighting for the proposal to make a distinction between inconvenient problems and serious and immediate safety issues.

While this is clearly a reasonable request, any recall that interrupts normal vehicle operation can pose a safety risk to vehicle occupants or other drivers. Even worse, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found in a 2011 report that just 65 percent of recalled cars are repaired, regardless of the severity of the recall. Preventing the sale of a defective used car could help to drive that number up.

Can Recalls Be Mandatory? Maybe.

Of course, the heart of the question at hand is whether or not recalls can be made mandatory and how mandatory recalls would be enforced. New car dealers are required to make repairs to recalled vehicles before they are sold, but used car dealers are exempt from this law. The Senate’s proposal would place the same restrictions on both types of dealers.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the National Automobile Dealers association commissioned a study, “…issued last month by J.D. Power and Associates showing that the average trade-in price would drop by $1,210 if dealers were not allowed to sell vehicles that were part of open recalls. The decline was blamed in part on the time needed to arrange for repairs.”

Some recalls, like the one issued in the wake of VW’s admission that it illegally programmed diesel cars to cheat on emissions tests, will be mandatorily enforced because the vehicles won’t pass state agency requirements. Unfortunately, other types of recalls that may pose a more immediate threat will continue to slip through the cracks. These threats to public safety will continue until lawmakers enact legislation.

Defective products pose real safety risks to you and your loved ones. If you or someone you know was injured because of a defective product, you make be entitled to compensation. The experienced defective product attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law can protect your rights and help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation at one of our offices in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville.