Buying a Used Car? Your Obligations With Auto Recalls

car salesWhen deciding to buy a car, there are a lot of factors to consider. While price and aesthetics are important, safety should be a car shopper’s biggest concern. This is particularly true in light of the fact that 2014 was the worst year on record for car product recalls. 2014 saw major car companies recalling millions of cars due to airbag malfunctions, poor seatbelt designs, ignition switch issues, and more. If you are in the market for a new car, particularly a used car, be sure you understand what obligations fall on the seller, and what risks the consumer is taking when purchasing a vehicle from a third party.

Product Recalls in the Automotive Industry

According to federal law, used car companies are not required to repair or even notify purchasers of product recalls that may affect the vehicles that are being sold on their lots. This places the burden entirely on the consumer to determine the safety of the vehicle they are purchasing. This task can be completed by utilizing commercial services such as CarFax or free services available through the car manufacturers themselves, though there is still the question of whether these known defects should be repaired before the vehicle is resold.

Manufacturers, distributors, and even retailers have certain legal duties to the general public. If they place a product into the public’s hands, they warrant that it is reasonably safe for use in a prescribed manner and that it will not cause unreasonable harm. These companies must provide adequate warnings to consumers (consider: choking hazards for small child; flammability concerns for oven mitts; products made in a factory with peanuts) in order to fulfill their legal duty.

But in the context of used cars, what is the duty? The manufacturers have warned the consumers; the information about recalls is publicly available on websites such as General Motors which lets you enter your vehicle identification number into the website to determine if there is a recall. Manufacturers send notices to all known owners of their vehicles when a vehicle they produced has a product defect or design flaw, but this gets murky when ownership changes hands and ends up at a used car dealership.

Regardless of the legal duties of used car dealers, it is always best to stay on top of product recalls. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is tasked with the responsibility of posting all recalls so that consumers are aware of recalls and can act accordingly. It is a good idea to visit this website on a regular basis to ensure that the products used by you and your family are safe and free of any recall actions. Whether it is a car product, toy, or article of clothing, manufacturers have a responsibility to their customers to make their products safe for use. Failure to do so can lead to liability.

Boston Products Liability Attorney

If you or anyone you know has been injured due to a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. If you feel a product was misrepresented to you, improperly sold, or simply unsafe to use, you have the right to hold the company making the product responsible so such products cannot hurt others. John J. Sheehan is an experienced products liability attorney serving the greater Boston area, and he can help you navigate a products liability claim from start to finish. Contact his Boston office today to learn more about your rights after an injury from a defective product.