Used Car Buyers Beware: Don’t Buy Vehicles with Safety Recalls 

October 3, 2016 by

Be Smart when Buying a Used Car 

Buying a used car can be an exciting experience. Cars give us independence and add a sense of stability and control to our lives. Used cars are also an economically savvy option, and buying used often provides plenty of choices to fit each individual’s lifestyle. Of course, purchasing a used car can also be a big challenge as well as a source of stress and frustration. A used car can come with a lot of unknowns, which is why it’s especially important to know which cars and components have been recalled for safety defects so that you can avoid them.

Taking this step while you are shopping for a vehicle can help reduce your risk for getting involved in a car accident, and it can also ensure that you and your passengers are as safe as possible in the unfortunate event that you are hit by another driver.

Safety Recalls

A vehicle safety recall is a public report of a safety-related defect or noncompliance with one or more federal safety regulations. Car manufacturers issue recalls after working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reach an agreement on a viable solution to the problem and the terms of the recall. Every recall report must include several important pieces of information:

  • A description of the defect
  • A list of affected vehicles
  • Major events that resulted in the recall
  • A solution
  • A schedule or timeline for repairs

Recalls affect millions of vehicles across all makes and models in the United States each year. Any part of the car can be recalled if deemed unsafe, including faulty ignition switches, spontaneously deploying airbags, overheating engines that cause fires, pedals that cause unintentional acceleration, and more.

CARS, a consumer advocacy group, warns car buyers to take recalls very seriously because there is really only one reason a manufacturer will recall a car: It is fundamentally unsafe to drive. Whether you are purchasing a car from a certified dealer or a private owner, do not purchase a vehicle with existing recalls before it has been repaired. Purchasing a car with unresolved recalls puts you, your passengers, and other drivers around you at risk.

U.S. law currently prohibits car dealers from selling new cars with recalls that have not been resolved. The law goes further to prevent rental cars from being rented out with recalls until they are fixed. Unfortunately, used cars do not come with the same strict consumer protections, and even cars from certified used dealerships can be legally sold with unresolved recalls.

Protect Yourself

Until the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Congress acts to change the law regarding used vehicle sales, it is the consumer’s responsibility to make sure all recalls are taken care of prior to the purchase of a used car. Advocating for yourself as a consumer is important in every purchase situation, but it’s especially important when dealing with a private owner selling his or her used car. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself:

  • Obtain the vehicle identification number (VIN) to check whether it is affected by a recall at
  • Look at the car manufacturer’s website for up-to-date information about recalls.
  • Contact the service department of a local certified dealer to ask about recalls on the car.
  • Hire a trusted mechanic to look at the vehicle.
  • Research the car’s title history by looking up its VIN on the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an online company such as Carfax. This is especially important to ensure it is not a salvaged title.
  • Get a copy of the car’s maintenance records.

Following these steps should help you look out for the security of you and your loved ones by making sure you don’t purchase a vehicle that comes with a serious and safety-compromising defect.

The Attorneys at Hossley & Embry Are Here to Help You

We know that despite your best efforts, bad things can still happen to the safest automobile shoppers and drivers. If you or someone you love has been a victim in a car accident, an unresolved recall issue could have been the cause — or could have made the crash worse.

With offices in Tyler and Dallas, Texas, Hossley & Embry is a professional corporation of trial lawyers who deal primarily with product liability and personal injury. The attorneys at Hossley & Embry have successfully litigated hundreds of personal injury cases, and we have the experience and dedication needed to fight for the justice and compensation that victims deserve.

If you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury, Hossley & Embry offers free consultations so you can get your questions answered. Don’t wait. Call (903) 526-1772 or fill out a convenient online form to schedule your consultation.


Buying a used car. (2014, August). Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information. Retrieved from:

How recalls impact used-car buyers. (2015, August 31). Consumer Reports. Retrieved from:

How to buy a used car. (2016). Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. Retrieved from:

What is a safety recall? (n.d.). Retrieved from: