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Used Car Dealers Differ On Fixing Recalls Before The Sale

4:15 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- You buy a product, you expect it to work. But a 2 Wants To Know exclusive investigation uncovered some cars for sale in the Triad still had recall notices. That means those cars had potentially dangerous defects that still needed to be fixed.

READ:Vehicle Records Show 2 Out of 3 Triad Dealers Selling Cars With Recalls Not Fixed

Carfax.com says it's something you need to know about when shopping for a car in North Carolina. Carfax claims to have found more than 57,000 used cars for sale here last year with open recalls.               

2 Wants To Know stayed on top of this story to look into why this was happening and found some dealers take several steps to take care of the recall right away - but others don't.

We randomly checked 12 local used car dealers across the Triad. Records showed eight of them were selling vehicles with possibly unfixed recalls. Some of these were serious safety concerns like faulty wiring which could catch fire. That's why we went back to see how it happened.

When 2 Wants To Know drove on the lot of Modern Chevrolet in Winston-Salem, a 2008 Mazda 6 advertized online wasn't there. The manager sent it off to fix a recall after we called.

"In the used car business nowadays if you can't give your customer good piece of mind, then you're not going to be one of the top dealerships. So we just try to develop that process to make sure our customers have a good piece of mind," General Manager A.C. Hengler said.

Hengler added they check for recalls when a car first comes in. Then they prioritize getting repairs done. "If we notice a safety recall, we won't even put the vehicle on the front line where a customer could test drive it," he said.

This car had a non-safety recall - a tire pressure gauge light issue. Modern Chevy says it will do its best to fix things like that before a sale goes through - even if workers have to run the car around town to other dealers who are authorized to fix the different brands.

"Recalls by their nature are things that are guaranteed free service at the dealership so it doesn't cost that dealer to get it taken care of. So any reputable dealer should get it done," Hengler said.

Impex and DriveTime also told 2 Wants To Know their companies work to correct concerns before any money is exchanged. (UPDATED JUNE 28: After the story aired Terry Labonte also called to say a vehicle with an open recall may appear in their online inventory, but they won't put it on the lot for a customer to buy until it's repaired.)

Crown Honda did not returned multiple calls, and our random check showed both dealerships have cars for sale with possible recalls.

Carmax says it tries to alert customers about recalls, but it won't fix the issue for you. A spokesperson sent an email to 2 Wants To Know reading: "New car manufacturers do not give used car retailers, including Carmax, authority to diagnose recalls, complete recall repairs and report repair completion to the manufacturer."

Foreign Cars Italia also says it can't fix another manufacturer's car. It's trying to sell a 2012 Honda Odyssey - for $37,000-- and records again show a possible defect - this time where missing rivets could impact airbag performance.

The take away here - you need to look out for yourself. No federal law requires dealers to fix the recalls, and there's no industry standard - so it varies from place to place. The best way to be proactive is to visit Carfax.com. They offer a free recall check tool where you can enter in a VIN from the dealer and find out if there are any unfixed repairs.

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