Published: January 2017

Advertising recalled vehicles as ‘safe’ is bad business for consumers

Most recalled consumer products are illegal to sell until the product has been repaired or replaced. However, many recalled vehicles are allowed to continue operating on the road while a fix is pending. These cars and trucks may also be sold before the recalled repair has been done. We think that’s wrong and dangerous for consumers. Coalition advocates joined together in asking the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit auto dealers, including retail giant Car Max, from engaging in false advertising regarding the safety of unrepaired recalled cars.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Action joined coalition advocates in urging the agency to prohibit car dealers, including Car Max, Asbury Automotive Group, and West-Herr Automotive Group from advertising unsafe, unrepaired, defective recalled used cars with serious safety defects that have killed and injured people as “safe,” “repaired for safety issues,” or “subject to a rigorous inspection,” without repairing the safety defects. Even allowing confusing or misleading advertising like “the vehicle MAY be subject to recalls for safety issues that have not been repaired” is dangerous. Consumers who purchase used cars need, and deserve, to have at least the same level of protection against false advertising as consumers who purchase kitchen items and electronics. This dangerous behaviour should not be allowed by the FTC. Instead, the agency should prioritize consumer protection over greedy car dealers who fraudulently sell unsafe cars.

Lead Organization

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS)

Other Organizations

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety | Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety | California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) | Center for Auto Safety | Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (CONNPIRG) | Consumer Action | Consumer Attorneys of California | Consumer Federation of America | Consumer Federation of California | Consumers Union | Courage Campaign | Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) | Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition | Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) | National Association of Consumer Advocates | National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients) | National Consumers League | Tennessee Citizen Action | Trauma Foundation | The Safety Institute | U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG) | Virginia Citizens Consumer Council

More Information

For more information, visit CARS.

Download PDF

Advertising recalled vehicles as ‘safe’ is bad business for consumers   (FTCcommentsCarMaxFINAL.compressed.pdf)




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