Buying a Used Car? Make Sure It Doesn’t Have Open Recalls

March 9, 2013

Make Sure Your “New” Used Car is Safe – Check for Recalls

When you buy a new car you are listed as the owner of record, and the car company from which you bought the car will send you recall notices. In response to the notice you are supposed to take your car to a dealer and get it fixed for free. The problem is, not everyone gets the recalls fixed.  This is a serious mistake, due to the fact that some of the recalls involve very dangerous issues. Recalls often involve items that are serious defects that can cause a car accident.

Used Car Dealers are Not Required to Check Recalls

New cars must have all recalls completed before they are sold, but there is no such requirement for used cars. So, if someone trades a car in and it ends up in a used car lot here in Pennsylvania, that dealership doesn’t have to check or make certain that the car has all recalls completed. The unfortunate thing here is that, since the car manufacturer is responsible for the cost of the repair, so while there is time involved in repairing the car, there is little to no cost.

Check for Recalls on a Specific Car

Fortunately, it is easy to check and see if a car has an open recall. All you need to do is get the VIN number of the car. The VIN number is located on the the dash of each car, close to the windshield.  When you are car shopping, look for the VIN number, or ask the dealer to tell you the number. Then, call a new car dealer with the kind of car you are considering and ask them to run the VIN number for open recalls. They should be happy to do so at no charge.

Check for Recalls on a Type of Car

You can check to see if a specific type of car has a recall online. CarFax offers a free recall search on its website. For Toyota, you will need to look on Toyota’s recall website here. Same for Audi, Lexus and Volkswagon. You can also sign up to track recalls on the government’s safety website. The last website is useful when you are shopping for a car, it contains a lot of safety information.

Should you Buy a Car with an Open Recall?

The cost of repairing a recall is only in the time involved. Personally, if I found out that a car had a recall on it and I were buying it from a dealer, I would insist that the recall be fixed prior to actually taking the car. The dealer should do the repair without adding any additional fees to the price of the vehicle.

However, I would also be suspicious of a used car dealer who did not bother to check and fix all recalls on his lot. I would, therefore, be unlikely to by a car from such a dealer, because I would be concerned about what else might be wrong with the car.


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