Recalled Used Cars – Are you driving an unfixed car?

Millions of cars are recalled a year. Thousands go un-repaired, and can even end up back on the market with a dangerous safety defect.

Nicolette Schleisman looked into what it takes to keep your family safe behind the wheel.

22 million vehicles were recalled in 2013. The recalls come from dangerous safety defects, that could turn deadly.

“These are safety related issues that can cause fires, crashes, inadvertent airbag deployment, real issues that can put people’s lives at risk,” said Christopher Basso, the Public Relations manager for Carfax.

General Motors made headlines this year for recalling 2.7 million cars for a faulty ignition switch, which caused 13 known deaths and at least 31 crashes.

Randy Peavler has been working on cars for 35 years.

“There’s been literally hundreds of recalls that I’m aware of,” said Peavler.

Carfax estimates about 35% of recalled cars go unfixed. “There’s actually hundreds of thousands, if not millions more cars on the road in Kansas and nationwide that have unfixed recalls,” explained Basso.

A manufacturer initiates a recall when it identifies a safety defect. The manufacturer reports the problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, which oversees the recall notices. The NHTSA also investigates safety defect complaints from vehicle owners. They say the risk is much greater than the fix.

If a manufacturer initiates a recall, they must notify:
– All Registered owners and purchasers of the affected vehicles of the problem,
– Give an evaluation of the risk,

– Explain to consumers the potential safety hazards,

– Instruct owners how to correct the problem,

– Remind them that the fix is free,

– Inform them when the fix is free,

– How long it will take to fix,

– And contact information if there is a problem obtaining the free recall work.

“It’s really senseless to not fix a recalled car.”

A manufacturer finds the names of the affected vehicles’ owners through state motor vehicle offices before they send them out by mail. In February, the NHTSA announced a new mandatory label to help owners identify a recall notice in the mail. But just because the notification has been sent out, does not mean the problem will be fixed.

Most used car dealerships have a system in place to check if a car being sold is under a recall. According to the NHTSA, dealers have a legal obligation not to sell a new car after they have been notified of the recall by the manufacturer until the defect has been fixed. But,the NHTSA does not have the authority to require a used car dealer, or individual consumer, to have recalled cars fixed before they are sold.

According to Carfax, last year about 35,000 used cars with an unfixed recall were for sale online in Kansas, and if you have not done your research on a used car, you could be sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that has a safety defect that has not been fixed.

To find out if there is a recall on your car, log on to There, you can find a comprehensive list of all the recalls on your vehicle. Just select the make, model and year.

“With the communications we have today, there’s no reason a recall can’t be done,” said Peavler.

If you notice a recall on that list that you have not received information on, call your manufacturer and give them your Vehicle Identification Number to see if your car is affected.

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