Why are there so many unresolved car recalls?

Published: Jun. 14, 2019 at 10:26 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - They may look like junk mail, but the recall notices you’re getting may include important items on your vehicle that need to be fixed. New research shows many of us are simply ignoring these important fixes.

New stats from CarFax show about 1 out of every 5 vehicles on the road are under some kind of recall and haven’t been fixed. That’s somewhere between 57 and 60 million total.

“Safety recalls that range from things that can cause exploding airbags to fires that increase risk of crash,” warns Chris Basso of CarFax.

If you’ve got a stack of recall snail mail sitting around, you’re not alone. Most of the recalls that go unfixed are family transportation like SUV or minivans.

“These are not aesthetics, these are dangerous problems with the car,” says Jason Levine, the Executive Director at the Center for Auto Safety.

If you’re in the market for a used car, you’re even more likely to find a car with unresolved recalls. The Center for Auto Safety studied eight CarMax dealerships and found 1 out of every 4 cars it inspected had an un-repaired recall.

In a statement, CarMax says it discloses open recalls before selling vehicles and has an easy way to check for a car’s recall status on its website, but the company isn’t required to fix them.

“Sometimes those repairs are not even available," Levine says. "So it’s a little bit deceptive and very unfair to say, well, disclosure fixes the problem. It doesn’t fix the problem and it doesn’t fix the car.”

There are easy ways to check and see if your car or one you’re looking at buying are under recall by entering the VIN number here.

CarFax also offers the MyCarFax app to track recalls on used vehicles as well.

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