Entries in Recalls (4)


Millions of Recalled Cars Are Sold Without Needed Repairs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year millions of recalled cars are sold to unsuspecting buyers without the needed repairs.  

Vehicle history website Carfax just completed a study that shows that in 2012 just over two million unrepaired recalled vehicles were offered for sale online.  But that's just online and just the sites Carfax catalogued, so the actual number is probably higher.

Carfax singled out Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin because its data shows the number of recalled vehicles for sale in those states has gone up 25 percent in the past year.

Carfax can tell that the vehicles have been recalled but not repaired because the Feds make recall notices for certain makes and models available.  Manufacturers and dealers track the VIN numbers of the individual vehicles that are brought in for the needed fix.

The fact that recalled vehicles are offered for sale is bad news if you don't know it, but could be good news if you do. First, the bad: The very definition of a federal vehicle recall is that there is a safety problem with that make, model and year.  So buying a car subject to an open recall could mean you're putting yourself and your family at risk.

On the other hand, if you know the car you are looking at has been recalled, you can use that as a bargaining chip in your price negotiations.  You will be able to get the repair for free at a dealership, but you can haggle over the time you are going to have to spend.

"Before a car changes hands, there are lots of opportunities for everyone involved to check for open recalls," said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax.  "Yet this data is proof that it's not happening enough."

Fortunately, it's easy to check.  You can try the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's own website, though it's notoriously difficult to navigate.  Here is where NHTSA posts recall summaries from the past six months. The government portal for broader vehicle safety information is

However, an easier resource is the free recall check Carfax itself offers:  Another free resource about recalls and auto safety is the website of the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Some legislators in California -- the state with the biggest population and the most cars -- are introducing legislation that would require sellers to repair recalled vehicles before selling them.  Last year, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein sponsored federal legislation to require rental car companies to repair recalled vehicles before putting them on the road again.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


National Peanut Butter Recall Expanded

istockphoto(NEW YORK) – The manufacturer responsible for issuing a national recall of peanut and almond butters has widened that recall to include cashew butter, tahini and dry roasted blanched peanut products. Sunland Inc. believes those products may also have been exposed to salmonella.

The recall extends to over 100 nationally distributed products, including Trader Joe’s Almond Butter. It applies to products with Best-If-Used-By Dates between May 1, 2013 and September 24, 2013.

So far, 29 people across 18 states have been sickened by the tainted nut products. 

For a full recall list, click here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rental Car Companies Pledge Not to Rent Recalled Cars

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The nation's four largest rental car companies have banded together in a pledge not to rent out any vehicles that are subject to a manufacturer safety recall and to support legislation that would legally enforce the promise.

Enterprise/National/Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget joined Hertz in the agreement pushed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) and by Cally Houck, a California mother whose daughters died in the crash of a rental car that was under recall.

Houck's two daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, were killed in 2004 after the PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise apparently began leaking steering fluid and suddenly caught fire before crashing into an oncoming semi-tractor-trailer. As reported in a 2010 ABC News investigation, the car had been under a safety recall for the potential fire hazard and, after a lengthy legal battle, Enterprise had to pay the Houck family $15 million in damages.

WATCH ABC News Investigates: Deadly Rental Cars on the Road

Under current law, car dealerships are banned from selling vehicles that are under a safety recall, but the restriction does not prevent rental agencies from renting out recalled cars. New legislation sponsored by Boxer and Schumer, called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, aims to close that loophole.

"If this bill had been the law, and the rental companies complied, my beautiful, precious daughters would still be alive," Cally Houck said day. "My abiding hope is that it will be enacted, and other families will be spared our devastating loss."

After the 2010 ABC News report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation to see how quickly rental car companies repair vehicles that have been recalled.

With the exception of Hertz, all the major American rental car companies declined to sign a pledge this summer saying they wouldn't rent cars under recall. At the time, they said that while they supported safe rental car legislation, they wanted it to extend to other businesses that transport passengers in vehicles, like limousine and taxi companies. All the companies said then that they address safety recalls in a timely manner, and representatives for Enterprise and Avis said their policy was already not to rent cars that were under recall.

But their recent decision to sign the pledge -- along with the newfound support of several safety auto agencies -- is a "breakthrough years in the making," according to Sen. Schumer.

"Consumers will no longer have to worry about what they aren't being told when they go to the rental car counter," he said. "With the industry's full backing, we think we have a great shot to get this legislation passed before the end of the year."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rental Car Agencies Band Together Against NHTSA Study

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Three major car rental companies have sent a joint letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling into question the results of a NHTSA survey that helped lead to the recent introduction of the proposed Safe Rental Car Act.

Representatives from Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, Hertz and Avis/Budget said in the March 3 letter, "The information... does not accurately reflect the performance of our respective companies in this area."

A day before the letter was sent to NHTSA, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said he was inspired in part by the NHTSA study when he announced the Safe Rental Car Act, which would make it illegal for rental car agencies to rent out cars that are subject to a recall notice.

Under current law, auto dealers cannot sell cars that have been recalled, but the restriction does not extend to rental car agencies. The lack of regulation, he said, "boggles the mind."

"Rental car companies should be immediately barred from renting cars that would be pulled from showrooms and car dealer lots because of safety recall concerns," Schumer, D-New York, told reporters. "It's wrong, it's dangerous and it must be stopped."

In a study of 10 General Motors and Chrysler recalls launched by NHTSA between June 2006 and July 2010, after 90 days, Enterprise had fixed an average of 65 percent of the cars subject to the recall. For Avis/Budget, 53 percent of the cars were fixed within 90 days of the recall. At Hertz, only 34 percent of the recalled cars had been fixed within 90 days.

The agencies said in the letter that the data provided to the NHTSA by auto manufacturers was not correct because the information was not up to date.

"The inaccuracies in the data reported by the manufacturers are, in part, a function of an inherent limitation in the timeliness of vehicle owner data reported to the manufacturer," the letter said.

The letter does not directly address the issue of renting out cars that are under recall, but a spokesman for Enterprise told ABC News last week that under current company policy "virtually all" cars under recall are grounded until they're fixed -- except for rare exceptions in which the company chooses not to fix certain recalled cars.

"The safety of our customers is our top priority and it is the most fundamental aspect of our commitment to do business responsibly," Enterprise spokesperson Laura Bryant said. "[The NHTSA survey] is not indicative of where the industry is today."

Bryant said rental car companies receive thousands of recalls issued every year with no differentiation for the severity of the issue. Enterprise bases the rare exceptions in which cars under recall on not grounded on information provided by the car manufacturer. After the survey, Hertz told ABC News it dramatically changed its policy to ground all cars under recall.

A NHTSA spokesperson did not dispute the claims of inaccuracy in the letter, but told ABC News, "NHTSA is concerned about rental vehicles not being repaired. Through our audit query, we hope to obtain information to better understand how widespread the problem is."

The letter said that manufacturers rarely have an accurate count of the particular vehicles in a rental car fleet because they are often sold quickly and the new ownership is sometimes not registered until months later. Therefore, the letter says, the total numbers of vehicles reportedly owned by the companies while under recall will always be higher -- at times significantly -- than the actual number.

The letter also noted that sometimes an inspection or repair of a vehicle under recall goes inadvertently unreported, lowering the number of fixed cars.

But to Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, any percentage of fixed cars rented out under 100 percent is unacceptable.

"They cannot pick and choose," Ditlow said. "They're gambling with your life."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio