Legal loophole may endanger drivers in used cars or rental cars

Conscientious consumers may value both money-saving and safety features in a motor vehicle. A used car purchase might seem to balance both of those concerns. In fact, the marketing of used cars often emphasizes those very features. For example, CarMax, which is the country’s largest used-car seller, offers a certified quality inspection to customers. Yet one item is conspicuously missing from that inspection: fixing recalls.

Unlike new car dealerships, rental car companies and used car dealers are not required by federal law to fix recall defects. In fact, they don’t even have to inform customers of a recall notice pertaining to a vehicle.

Yet it is a fact that drivers in America continue to be injured in motor vehicle accidents because a used car dealer or rental car company failed to repair a faulty part. One fatal crash involving a rental car in 2004 was particularly gruesome and newsworthy, prompting some federal lawmakers to introduce proposed legislation. However, the proposals have not yet become law.

Automakers have a responsibility to design and test their vehicles for safety. When a part is discovered to be dangerous or defective, it seems intuitive to require repairs. Yet the law imposes that requirement only on new car dealerships. Consequently, a driver injured by a defective car part in a used or rental car may be unsure how to pursue compensation for his or her losses and/or injuries. An attorney that has experience in bringing personal injury and product liability lawsuits may be able to devise a course of action for such individuals.

Source: New York Times, “Recalled Used Cars Roam the Roads as Federal Legislation Stalls,” Christopher Jensen, May 8, 2014

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