In the Matter of General Motors LLC, File Number 152-3101
This proposed recall repair consent agreement should be called "The Car Dealer Immunity Act" since it will permit car dealers to not fix vehicles they are selling that are unsafe due to a recall, as long as they tell the consumer about it. Then, armed with the signed disclosure, the dealer can never be liable in a lawsuit for concealment or misrepresentation of the vehicle for any personal injury resulting from the unsafe, and unrepaired condition of the car that the dealer knew about but did not fix. Liability shifts to the consumer and who then is liable for his or her injuries and any other person injured in an accident with the unsafe vehicle. With such regulations Certified Cars ads will be inherently deceptive. The marketing for Certified Cars, such as Car Max's, states, -- "This vehicle has passed a rigorous 127 point inspection", and other language, give the impression that these vehicles have no problems, and are safe. However, with this proposed agreement "Certified" vehicles, or any other vehicle the dealer wants to claim has passed its rigorous and thorough inspection process, may be sold with unsafe defects as long as the buyer is "notified". Instead of fixing these unsafe cars, at the manufacturer's expense, the auto dealers will be incentivized to make it the consumer's responsibility to fix them after purchase, even though injuries from a recalled vehicle sometimes occur a few days or hours after purchase. Why would a buyer accept such a car, for which it allegedly received notice of an unrepaired defect? Because they likely do not know about it. During the purchase of the vehicle, often after hours of negotiations, the buyer is anxious to leave and then is asked to sign many pages of docs. At that point they will sign wherever they are told to sign, they are just happy to have what they think is reliable transportation, at a negotiated price, and do not read what they sign. One of the docs they will be presented, probably w/o any explanation, is a notice that the vehicle may has safety recall, unrepaired, that they need to get fixed. Then, if they wait a little to get it fixed, and are injured or killed before they can take the car back, the dealer can point the signature and say that they were told about it and assumed the risk, thereby shifting liability to the consumer. The only reason the dealers are pushing for regulations making it an option for them to fix the recall is that they face increased liability because, thanks to the safety recall database that is accessible to anyone with a computer via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, they can no longer claim ignorance about the safety recall status of used cars they offer for sale. They are being sued for selling unsafe recalled cars, causing injuries and deaths. So they are very eager to shift the liability onto consumers. They are also under fire by the FTC, over their false advertising that their "certified" cars are safe, when in fact they have lethal safety defects subject to recall. No regulation on this would be better than what is proposed. What SHOULD be passed is a mandate that dealers must fix vehicles with any safety recall before the car made be sold on the retail market. And if a fix for this unsafe vehicle is not available, then it simply should not be sold until the fix is available.