GM and dealers agree to tell car buyers about recalls
You’re looking to buy a used car and want some peace of mind, so you choose a dealer that advertises rigorous, bumper-to-bumper safety inspections. You can drive off the lot with confidence, right? Not so fast.
Today the FTC announced that General Motors Company, Jim Koons Management Company, and Lithia Motors have agreed to settle charges they deceptively marketed their used cars when they made claims about their comprehensive inspections.
The issue? According to the FTC, many of the cars they advertised as having undergone thorough inspections still had open recalls for safety-related defects, including recalls for defective ignition switches — a fact they didn’t make clear to prospective buyers.
Dealers aren’t required to — and sometimes can’t — fix manufacturer recalls on the used cars they sell. But if they say they’ve done an extensive inspection on a car, the FTC says they also need to say whether there are still unrepaired recalls. That way, buyers know to get them fixed, or can decide to buy another car instead.
Under the settlement, the companies must stop making deceptive claims about their recall repair practices, and must notify recent customers who may have bought a used car subject to a recall.
When you shop for a used car, keep in mind that federal law doesn’t require dealers to fix recalls. So make sure you:
- Ask questions. Ask the dealer if the car you’re considering has a recall, and whether the dealer will fix it before you take the car home.
- Check for yourself. Take down the VIN number of a car, and enter it at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall look-up website safercar.gov. You also can get information to help you follow up with a manufacturer or dealer about a recall.
- Check out the vehicle history report. The report will tell you about a car’s title, odometer, theft, or salvage history, and might also provide recall information. Ask your dealer — they’ll often provide them for free. For links to companies that sell the reports, go to vehiclehistory.gov.