By Kurtis Ming

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Some think it’s a no brainer. If a car has an open recall, used car dealerships should have to fix it before the car is sold. Auto Dealers have long said a one size fits all approach doesn’t work for them, so now they’re supporting their own bill consumer advocates say would make it okay to sell recalled cars.

“I think they should fix them. Why not?” said Angela Davidson after learning she bought a used truck recalled over a rear axle issue.

She says no one told her the 2010 Dodge Ram had a potential safety defect.

“Had they said to me there’s an open recall on it, there’s no way I would’ve purchased that car,” she said.

She was even more surprised to learn, the law does not specifically bar dealerships from selling used cars with open recalls. Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety has spent years trying to get laws passed forcing dealers to make the repairs.

Kurtis: Every effort has failed. Why?
Shahan: Well the dealers are a really powerful lobby and they seem to think they’re entitled to sell people unsafe cars.

Now California car dealers have come up with their own version of a fix they say will protect consumers.

“What this bill does, is give them information they didn’t have before hand,” said Monica Baumann with the California New Car Dealers Association.

The organization is supporting a state bill that would require disclosure of recalls in 100% of used car sales. Dealerships would have to tell you about it, and where you can get it fixed.

Same line dealerships (for example a used Ford from a Ford Dealership) would have to make the repairs before selling a recalled car. The most serious recalls, as defined by manufacturers would have to be fixed no matter which type of dealership is selling it.

Kurtis: Isn’t that an improvement?
Shahan: Not Really.

Shahan says this bill will actually allow dealers to sell cars with lethal safety defects to consumers and get away with it.
She and a growing number of consumer groups opposing the bill point out manufacturers declare fewer than six percent of recalls in that serious “Do Not Drive” category and high profile recalls like the exploding airbags are not among them.

Kurtis: This airbag issue has killed people. That car under your bill could still be driven off a used car lot.
Baumann: Well that’s true. Every single consumer who purchased such a vehicle would be aware of that fact and get that fixed when it’s convenient for them.

Car dealers have expressed concerns it may take weeks or months for used car dealerships to get a recall fixed at an authorized repair facility which is a competing dealership.

“Because car dealers are going to be at the bottom of the list,” Baumann said. “Consumers will always come first.”

Consumer advocates are also concerned the recall disclosure may come by way of piece of paper after hours of car shopping and negotiating a price. They point out recall notices are often confusing and are only written in English. The dealers say they’re open to working with consumer advocates on an appropriate time to clearly disclose the recall.

The car dealers quickly point out 60% of all used car transactions are private sales, which this bill also covers. If you sell your own car, you would have to tell the buyer of any recalls, and disclose it on the transfer paperwork with the DMV. This bill currently does not have any money built into it to educate the public they would have this obligation and does not outline a penalty for those not following the law.

“How are people going to know they’re supposed to do that?” Shahan said.

This bill would require manufacturers to pay for a rental car, if there’s a repair backlog or parts aren’t available and if a rental car is subject to recall, they’ll have to tell you before you rent it. The Auto Alliance which represents several manufacturers says it’s against this bill.  The bill’s author Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gordon would not comment on the bill, which will be heard at the capitol on Monday.

Shahan stresses she wants all recalls fixed period, before a car is sold.

“I think they’ve simply decided they’d rather have a bill that’s perfect in their eyes, than a bill that is good and is comprehensive,” said Baumann.


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