How to Avoid Buying a Car With a Safety Recall

Car purchase

When shopping for used cars across Seattle, potential buyers may assume that most vehicles without obvious problems are safe and reliable. But that may not be the case. Every year, automakers issue recalls for millions of cars due to safety issues. What’s most alarming is how many of these cars never get fixed. And, unlike accidents or poor upkeep, you can’t see most of the problems associated with open recalls until it may be too late.

National Perspective

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automakers recalled 15.5 million cars in 2012. The problem for potential buyers is that some recalled cars may be traded in or sold privately before the recall notice is sent to the registered owner by the manufacturer. It’s unknown exactly how many go unrepaired, but our data show that 2.1 million cars with open recalls were for sale online in the U.S. in 2012, which means many people may have unwittingly bought these cars and put themselves in potential danger by not checking for safety recalls.

How Seattle Stacks Up

Of those 2.1 million cars with open recalls in 2012, our data show that at least 34,319 of them were in Seattle and the state of Washington. In fact, Washington state ranked 20th in the nation for the most cars with open recalls for sale online (California, Texas and Florida had the most). An increased risk of a crash, vehicle fire, and inadvertent airbag deployments are among the many problems recalled cars may face. Car buyers and sellers must share the responsibility of checking for recalls and taking steps to fix the problem to improve public safety in Seattle.

Identifying Recalled Cars

While potential dangers lay waiting on some car sale lots, car buyers can identify cars with recalls before they buy using a free recall check from CARFAX, which uses the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to do the research. Keep in mind, most sellers in Seattle will not put a safety recall sticker or otherwise identify a vehicle with a safety issue. And, it’s nearly impossible for car buyers to distinguish a car with an open safety recall from a car without one by appearance alone. The pretty, clean and nearly new car you “must have” might have a safety recall lurking in its parts. Protect yourself by doing your research and identify cars with safety issues before purchasing them.

Fixing Recall Cars

Cars with open recalls in Seattle can be easily identified by using the free CARFAX open safety recall site. And while that might come off as a deterrent, they can sometimes be free to fix. If a car you’re interested in has an open recall, take it to a local franchise dealer (one that sells and services your particular make). In most cases these franchise dealers will fix open safety recalls for free, so there’s really no reason to avoid getting them fixed.

With thousands of used cars with open recalls floating around Seattle, car owners and buyers should always make a point to keep themselves apprised of any issues with their car. With just the car’s VIN and make, car owners and buyers can help ensure the safety of their vehicles, families and Seattle roads.

Mike Orsini is the head of blog marketing at CARFAX. CARFAX is the most trusted provider of vehicle history information that is used by millions of consumers each year. CARFAX Vehicle History Reports™ are available on all used cars and light trucks model year 1981 or later.

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