When you buy a new car, you do so with the expectation that it will be in mint condition, have little if any miles on it, have that trademark new car smell, and most importantly, be free from any defects. With the more than 15 million new cars sold across the United States, it is hard to fathom that your new car can be subject to a recall, even before you drive it off the lot.
Nevertheless, it happens; and according to a recent ABC News.com report, it happens more often than you might think. ABC’s Investigative Team highlighted a sale where the salesperson insisted that the car for sale was not subject to any recall. After the team made the purchase, they conducted a quick computer search (ostensibly through NHTSA.gov/recalls) and found that the vehicle was subject to a recall.
While this might appear to be fraud on the part of the salesperson, the law does not require them to know (or disclose) information about defects. However, the dealer is legally obligated to honor repairs that are necessary should the vehicle be recalled. This is especially important if the hazard that led to the recall is dangerous enough to cause significant injuries. If the repairs are not honored or completed, the dealer (along with the automaker) could be held liable.
So while it may not strike you to do so while you are shopping, it may be a good idea to check to see whether your potential new car is being recalled, and what the particular defect is, so that you can make an informed decision about your purchase.