FOX25 Investigates: Recalled used cars for sale around Boston

FOX25 Investigates: Recalled used cars for sale around Boston

BOSTON — Thousands of used vehicles, with unfixed safety recalls, were sold in the Boston area in 2015 and FOX25 Investigates found more cars with open recalls for sale at used car dealerships in the area.

Consumer watchdog group, MASSPIRG, recently focused on CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, but FOX25 found the problem of identifying and fixing used cars with open recalls is even more widespread.

Undercover Visits

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FOX25's Eric Rasmussen visited used car lots in Norwood, West Roxbury and Dedham and found multiple vehicles for sale with open recalls. The recall status of each car was checked using free tools available on the federal http://www.safercar.gov/ website as well as used car history provider, Carfax.

Among the vehicles found by FOX25 Investigates was a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude. Rasmussen inquired about the SUV with a salesperson who said it was “safe to drive off the lot today” and that he would’ve been notified if it had an open recall.

Yet federal records revealed the Jeep did, in fact, have an unfixed recall involving the SUV’s body control module and windshield wipers.  The same lot also had a 2014 Subaru Impreza with an open recall involving possible brake line corrosion.

When Rasmussen returned to the dealership for answers, General Manager Jerry Cadorette was willing to look into the issue. He acknowledged there could be cars on the lot with open recalls that he didn’t know about.

“It is concerning,” said Cadorette. “I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a tedious, tough process and we try to do the best that we can.”

He also insisted a customer would be informed about open recalls if they tried to buy one of the vehicles.

“When it comes into my office, that’s the time I’ll run the Carfax on it, make sure there are no open recalls on it… to make sure we have a viable deal,” said Cadorette.

Widespread Problem

Carfax estimates one out of every five cars on the road in the Boston area  has an unfixed safety recall.  Records show almost 84,000 of those vehicles with open recalls were sold or changed ownership in 2015.

“It underscores the importance of checking for recalls,” said Carfax spokesperson, Chris Basso. “Finding and fixing open recalls is everybody’s responsibility.

While dealerships are prohibited from selling new vehicles with open recalls, it’s not illegal to sell used cars with unfixed safety recalls. Carfax says it’s working with manufacturers to alert as many people as possible, but some used car dealers say getting recall repairs completed can be a slow and difficult process because the work must be done by a manufacturer certified dealer.

Doing the “Right Thing”

When FOX25 Investigates undercover visits to local dealerships, an employee at A.S.P.I. Motor Cars in Dedham, offered to check for open recalls when Rasmussen inquired about one of the vehicles for sale.

“He did what he was supposed to do,” said owner Lou Tedeschi.

Tedeschi says he trains his staff to look for problems with cars ahead of time, but he opposes legislation that would ban used car dealers from selling vehicles with open recalls.

Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut co-sponsored the “Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act” which would require all car dealers to repair outstanding safety recalls on cars before selling or leasing them.

“That’s not the solution,” said Tedeschi. “That’s going to cripple the industry and it’s going to really effect the economy.”

However, many car owners who spoke to FOX25 say more needs to be done to make sure potential used car buyers are better informed. Sika Sullivan says she didn’t know about an open recall involving the fuel tank on her Lincoln SUV until Rasmussen told her.

“I don’t know that I was ever notified about that, but it’s certainly something I would want to take care of,” said Sullivan.