Digital tools alert used car buyers to unfixed recalls - CBS46 News

Digital tools alert used car buyers to unfixed recalls

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Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety call shopping used vehicles, some with safety recalls sitting on the sales lot, "recalled used car roulette."

Many times those vehicles aren't repaired before they're sold.

Thanks to the number of recalls this year, the parts and service division at Steve Rayman Chevrolet is busy.

"All the manufacturers have to deal with recalls," said Steve Rayman, the dealership's owner.

Rayman's dealership didn't have to, but he invested in an additional tool to read a vehicle's recall information.

"We plug it in, and it codes us to let us know exactly, if there are any recalls, last time the oil was changed, anything service related," Rayman said.

We found not all vehicle sales lots deal with recalls equally. By law, new car dealers can't let a vehicle leave the lot with airbag stickers missing or a part recall. However, a used car dealer can sell you a car with a safety recall without telling you. Right now it's perfectly legal.

An online search of metro Atlanta used car lots found vehicle after vehicle with active recalls. We found a Toyota Corolla with a defective airbag in Cumming. The Chrysler Town & Country we found in Cartersville has a faulty airbag. In Union City, our search turned up a Ford Explorer with a power steering recall sitting on the lot waiting for a buyer. At another used car lot in Marietta, we found a Camry that has a recalled power window switch. The salesman told us it was fixed.

"When they mention a recall on Carfax, that means it's already been done," said the salesman.

A search of the VIN on the manufacturer's website revealed the car hasn't been repaired, which we found out using the new recall look up tool. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now requires every manufacturer to put a tool on their own website. It's as simple as typing in the VIN, and you can check for yourself.

We tested it, and it seemed to work for many manufacturers. Volvo and Audi don't have the tools on their websites yet. GM's tool provided "incorrect and misleading results" despite having more than 30 million vehicles at risk. NHTSA recommends consumers who've used it and found no recall should check again or contact GM directly.

Better access to the Web-based tool could mean changes. In Washington, DC, there's a proposal to make it illegal to sell a used car with a pending recall. New car dealers support it.

"We just want to make sure the car is the safest vehicle they can have and that when they leave here it's all fixed and they don't have anything to worry about," said Rayman about his dealership.

Besides the manufacturer's websites, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a SaferCar app to help you stay on top of recalls. It's as simple as selecting a vehicle's make and model and clicking the search button. You can add in your vehicle's identification number and it will alert you to any recall specific to your vehicle. It can also help you file a complaint. On your smartphone, go to your app store and search for SaferCar. Here's a link to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.

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