Consumers for
Auto
Reliability and
Safety
 
 
 
 
Governor Brown turns deaf ear to
consumer, civil rights groups
Signs bill backed by toll authorities and auto dealers
 
SACRAMENTO: California Governor Jerry Brown ignored pleas from consumer and civil rights groups and signed AB 516 into law, despite the fact the author had rejected amendments offered by law enforcement and consumer groups to address the serious problem of innocent people being pulled repeatedly over and ticketed, and having their cars impounded, when their vehicles have not been properly registered, through no fault of their own.

Such incidents are destined to increase under the bill, as law enforcement will be able to readily scan the temp tags and target people whose tags have expired, and who have not received their permanent plates.

"The Democratic governor’s decision Monday comes over the objection of social justice activists who say it will lead to more fines and create economic hardships for poor people." -- KPIX-TV News report

Read more: LA Times report: New law will require temporary license plates in CA
 
 
What happens when you can't get your car registered?
NBC Bay Area report
"Dealer can't register car. Woman wants refund."
July 19, 2016
by Chris Chmura, Christine Roher, and Joe Rojas
 
"Dori Hess sums up her situation in a made-for-TV sound bite. 'I bought a car I can’t drive,' she said. Mechanically speaking, her new car is perfect. But legally, it’s not drivable.

Hess bought a 2011 Acura TSX for about $18,000 in September [over 8 months ago]. 'I paid for it in full,' she said. And yet, the car is still unregistered. What’s the hold up? The dealer. Hess says AutoNation Acura of Stevens Creek agreed to title and register the TSX for her. Her paperwork even lists a $29 service fee. But the dealer hasn’t titled or registered the car. The expired plate is proof....Hess's Acura is screaming for a ticket.

'The DMV investigator told me I could be pulled over, and the car could be towed,' Hess said. Hess said the dealer didn’t offer an explanation; it was stalling....

Rosemary Shahan, the consumer advocate who leads Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, is lobbying the Legislature to give drivers a break when dealers are careless with paperwork. 'You get penalized if they don’t do their job,' she said."

NBC Bay Area report: "Dealer can't register car. Woman wants refund."

Unless Governor Brown vetoes a bill (AB 516) that is being backed by toll authorities and the California New Car Dealers Association, more innocent car buyers like Dori will be unfairly penalized when dealers sell them cars they cannot get properly registered, through no fault of their own.

Read more: Can’t get your car registered? Stopped by Police? You are not alone.
 
 
 
 
 
For Immediate Release
July 14, 2016
 
 
BLUMENTHAL, SCHUMER, MARKEY, NELSON, DURBIN: FTC SETTLEMENTS ALLOWING USED CAR DEALERS TO ADVERTISE CARS WITH UNREPAIRED RECALLS AS ‘SAFE’ ARE ANTI-CONSUMER & ANTI-SAFETY
 
Recent proposed settlements between the FTC and used car dealers allow dealers to continue advertising used cars as certified and “safe” even if those vehicles have unrepaired safety recalls

Senators today called on FTC and NHTSA to redraft the proposed settlements to ensure consumers have the information they need to stay safe


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure used car dealers cannot advertise a car as ‘safe’ if it has an unrepaired safety recall. Recent proposed settlements between the FTC and used car dealers allow dealers to continue advertising used cars as certified and “safe” even if those vehicles have unrepaired safety recalls. The Senators today called on the FTC and NHTSA to redraft the proposed settlements to ensure consumers have the critical safety information they need when buying a car.

“Congress has long debated whether dealers should be allowed to sell used cars subject to open safety recalls,” the Senators wrote. “We firmly believe that the law should prohibit such sales, as it currently does for new cars with open safety recalls. These proposed settlements wade into this contentious public policy debate, and we believe they would establish an anti-consumer, anti-safety precedent with far-reaching policy implications. Accordingly, we urge you to work together, and in good faith, to leverage your respective agency’s expertise and redraft the proposed settlements so they ensure that consumers receive meaningful information regarding the safety of their potential used vehicle purchases and that public safety is not compromised.

The text of today’s letter is available here and below:

Dear Administrator Rosekind and Chairwoman Ramirez:

       We write with serious safety concerns regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent proposed settlements with General Motors Company, Jim Koons Management, and Lithia Motors Inc, regarding their failure to adequately disclose unrepaired safety recalls when advertising their used car inspection programs. The proposed settlements would allow dealers to continue to advertise used cars as “safe,” “repaired for safety issues,” and having been rigorously and extensively inspected, including that they are certified—a term that connotes safety—even if those vehicles have unrepaired safety recalls. As such, in their current form, these proposed settlements would fail to address the wrongdoing at hand.

       We understand that, at our behest, your two agencies have discussed these proposed settlements. Nevertheless, we remain concerned that this important public safety and public policy matter has not received the heightened scrutiny it deserves. Congress has long debated whether dealers should be allowed to sell used cars subject to open safety recalls. We firmly believe that the law should prohibit such sales, as it currently does for new cars with open safety recalls. These proposed settlements wade into this contentious public policy debate, and we believe they would establish an anti-consumer, anti-safety precedent with far-reaching policy implications. Accordingly, we urge you to work together, and in good faith, to leverage your respective agency’s expertise and redraft the proposed settlements so they ensure that consumers receive meaningful information regarding the safety of their potential used vehicle purchases and that public safety is not compromised.

       The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has publicly stated time and time again that all recalls are safety recalls that need to be fixed. In 2011, a spokeswoman for NHTSA said, “All safety recalls resulting from defects present an unreasonable risk to safety and we believe it is inappropriate to suggest that some defects are not risky enough to require repair.”[1] In a 2013 hearing, former Administrator David Strickland testified, “All NHTSA safety recalls address an unreasonable risk to safety and should not be ignored.”[2] In addition, NHTSA’s current FAQ on vehicle recalls explicitly states, “A recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards.”[3] There is no question that any vehicle with an outstanding recall is an unsafe vehicle.

       In contrast to NHTSA’s longstanding position, the FTC’s proposed settlements would allow dealers to continue committing the same wrongdoing that was the impetus for the Commission’s actions. Car dealers would still be able to represent that a pre-owned vehicle is “safe,” has been “repaired for safety issues,” and has passed a “rigorous safety inspection” or to label a pre-owned car as being certified even when it is being sold with an unrepaired safety recall. A certified used vehicle with an unrepaired safety recall is inherently misleading. Perhaps more alarming, the proposed settlements would only require dealers to make a blanket statement that their rigorously inspected and certified used vehicles “may be subject to unrepaired recalls.” Consequently, this “disclosure” arguably amounts to nothing more than a legal disclaimer that could absolve dealers from their responsibilities and would likely do little, if anything, to meaningfully convey to consumers the existence of an open recall and dissuade them from purchasing such vehicles due to their safety risks.

       The sale of any car with an unrepaired safety recall is a threat to public safety. We support the concerns raised in the comments recently filed by a number of consumer groups that no dealer should be able to advertise that a car is certified or any similar terminology connoting safety, if the car is subject to an outstanding recall.[4] Please report back by August 10, 2016 on how you intend to cooperate and work together to amend the proposed settlements and ensure that car dealers cannot mislead and deceive consumers about the safety of their prospective purchases.

                     Sincerely,
 
###
 
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________

[1] Christopher Jenson, Faced With Recalls, Rental Companies Sometimes Decide to Wait, N.Y. Times Wheels, Apr. 19, 2011, http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/faced-with-recalls-rental-companies-sometimes-decide-to-wait/.

[2] Hearing on S. 921, the “Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013” Before the Subcomm. on Consumer Protection of the S. Comm. Commerce, Science, and Transp., 113th Cong. (2013) (statement of David Strickland, Adm’r, Nat’l Highway Traffic Safety Admin., available at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/492dcbd0-de37-4ea6-9810-8b72d07bb4c0/F2BA003C793F45BA47EB84D6116C92BD.strickland.pdf.

[3] Nat’l Highway Traffic Safety Admin., Vehicle Recalls: Frequently Asked Questions, Safercar.gov, https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/faq.jsp (last visited June 10, 2016).

[4] Letter from Consumer Groups to Federal Trade Commission (Feb. 29, 2016), available at https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_comments/2016/02/00011-100830.pdf.

 
 


The fatal flaw in the FTC's proposed
consent agreement with General Motors
 

The FTC's proposed consent agreement states that General Motors:

"shall not, in any manner, expressly or by implication:

A. Represent that used motor vehicles that
[GM] advertises are safe, have been repaired for safety issues, or have been
subject to a rigorous inspection, unless:

1. The used motor vehicles are not subject to any open recalls relating to
safety, and the representation is otherwise not misleading, OR

2. [GM] discloses, clearly and conspicuously, and in close proximity to
such representation, any qualifying information related to open recalls,
including but not limited to: i.the fact that used motor vehicles that it advertises may be subject to recalls for safety issues that have not been repaired...


Read more: FTC's proposed consent agreement -- see page 4
 
 
 
 
 
NEWS: For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Contact: Rosemary Shahan, President, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, 530-759-9440
 
 
New Federal Safety Recall Law Takes Effect
 
       As the nation's travel season heats up, motorists and their families now have a new level of protection from unsafe, recalled cars. Today, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act takes effect. The Act, named for two sisters, ages 24 and 20, who were killed by a recalled rental car, makes it a violation of federal law for rental car companies with fleets of 35 or more rental or loaner cars (including some car dealers), to rent, loan, or sell defective, unsafe recalled cars until the safety defects have been repaired.

       The new law is the first major expansion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's authority over safety recalls since the agency was created in the 1960's. For the first time, NHTSA will be able to crack down on covered rental car companies and car dealers, and issue fines or invoke other sanctions, to help prevent tragedies like the crash that claimed Raechel and Jacqueline's lives.

       “I'm thrilled that the Safe Rental Car Act named for my beautiful, treasured daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, is now the law of the land. But I'm worried about the loaner car loophole for car dealers and remain committed to closing that dangerous safety gap,” said Cally Houck, Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline. The Houcks filed a lawsuit against the rental car company under state laws against negligence and wrongful death, and won a unanimous jury verdict.

       “If this law was in existence when my cherished, beautiful daughter Jewel rented a car, she would still be alive today,” said Alexander Brangman. In 2014, his 26-year- old daughter Jewel died while driving a rented 2001 Honda Civic. Tragically, the recalled car had an unrepaired and defective Takata airbag, which exploded in her face during a low speed chain reaction fender bender. Passengers in the other vehicles were able to walk away from the crash site without injuries. However in Jewel’s case, the shrapnel from the defective airbag sliced an artery in her neck, causing her to bleed to death. The small rental car company in San Diego, CA that rented the Honda to Jewel had approximately 55 vehicles for rent, and would be covered under the new Act.

       U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the principal author of the Act, said, “This law is going to save lives, period. Families heading out for vacation or businesspeople on travel should never have to wonder if their rental car is under recall when they drive it off the lot. Thanks to this bill, the millions of people who rent cars every year will have peace of mind that rental car companies can't rent or sell cars that they know are unsafe.”

       “I am so proud that the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act takes effect today so that the public can be assured when they rent a car, it cannot be under recall,” said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a leading champion for the Act. “It is outrageous that some loaner vehicles were exempted from the law and we must act to close this dangerous loophole.”
 
 
 
 
 
       “When consumers and families drive a rental car off the lot, they should be able to do so with the confidence that car is safe to drive, and our legislation will help achieve that peace of mind,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, former Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. “Companies like Honda and GM, as well as the rental car industry and consumer and safety advocates rallied support for our commonsense plan that will help ensure any rental cars subject to recall are grounded, and that companies violating that law are held accountable.”

       “Implementation of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act is an important consumer safety measure that is long overdue,” Rep. Lois Capps said. “If a car is deemed too dangerous to sell, it is too dangerous to rent — it’s that simple. Thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates like Cally Houck, we have now made our roads safer. This commonsense, bipartisan law will undoubtedly protect public safety and prevent more unspeakable tragedies from occurring.”

       “The Safe Rental Car Act will save lives and assure Americans that the vehicles they rent are free of known defects,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “Rental car companies should never rent out cars that are unsafe. Sadly, for far too many families these vital protections come too late. But thanks to the hard work of family members who channeled their grief and anger into advocacy, we now have a law to prevent future deaths. We must continue to work to ensure that every vehicle bought or rented is safe.”

       Rental car companies are the largest purchasers of new cars in North America. They are also among the largest sellers of used cars. So under the new federal law, millions of used cars will also be required to be repaired, in addition to existing state laws that prohibit dealers from selling unsafe products to the public.

       However, thanks to a last-minute loophole added by the Republican House of Representatives at the behest of auto dealers, and carried by Rep. Roger Williams (R), a Texas car dealer, the Act applies only to companies with a fleet of 35 or more rental or loaner vehicles, on average – exempting many auto dealers. If a dealer who is not covered by the new law rents, loans, or sells an unsafe recalled car, it would still be a violation of various state laws, such as laws against false advertising, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or violations of express or implied warranties, or – if someone is injured or killed as a result -- negligence or wrongful death, but NHTSA is not able to enforce those laws.

       The leading Congressional champions for passage of the Act were U.S. Senators Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill, Nelson, and Blumenthal, and Representatives Capps, Schakowsky, Butterfield, and Jones. The Senate measure was also co-sponsored by Senators Casey, Feinstein, and Gillibrand. U.S Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, M.D. also advocated strongly for its passage. The DOT's request to Congress, for enactment of the FAST Act, included provisions calling for NHTSA to have authority to curb rental car companies and car dealers' illegal sales of ALL recalled rentals / loaners or used cars.

       In a commendable move, the rental car industry, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Dollar- thrifty, Alamo, National, and the American Car Rental Association, as well as many smaller rental car companies, helped persuade lawmakers to vote for the Act, and worked alongside Cally Houck, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and other supporters for passage of the new law. General Motors and Honda broke ranks with other auto manufacturers and also supported the bill.

       The Senate and House both rejected attempts by some auto manufacturers and by the National Automobile Dealers Association to kill the bill, or to legalize rentals and loaners of recalled vehicles with “disclosure” -- shifting liability onto the victims of unsafe vehicles.

       In contrast to the position of the Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that recalled cars should not be rented or sold to consumers, unless the safety defects have been repaired, the Federal Trade Commission is on the brink of approving settlements with General Motors and the Lithia and Koons auto dealership chains that would allow them to advertise that defective recalled cars are “safe,” have “been repaired for safety,” or have passed a “rigorous inspection” and qualified to sold as “certified” cars without repairing the safety recalls, if they merely disclose that the “certified” used vehicles may be subject to a safety recall.

       Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, many other consumer groups, and Cally Houck are actively opposing the FTC's proposed consent agreements, which would undermine existing state consumer protection laws. If they are finalized, the consent agreements would be in effect for 20 years. Meanwhile, they could be used by unscrupulous auto dealers in litigation, against victims injured or killed by recalled cars, and as grounds to oppose any further improvements in federal law.
__________________
 
 
 
 


Parents of daughters killed by unrepaired recalled cars to
National Automobile Dealers Association Chairman:
His claim only 6% of auto safety recalls are "hazardous"
Is "Dangerous, irresponsible, and dead wrong"
 
National Automobile Dealers Association Chairman Carlson: killer defect NOT "hazardous"
Parents of children killed by unrepaired recalled cars are calling on the new Chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), car dealer Jeff Carlson, to retract his dangerous claim that "only 6% of recalls are 'hazardous.'"

The parents include:

Cally Houck, mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were only 20 and 24 when they were killed by a recalled PT Cruiser that caught on fire and lost steering. Read Cally's letter.

Alexander Brangman, father of Jewel Brangman, who was only 26 when she was killed by a recalled Honda Civic with an exploding Takata air bag. Read Alexander's letter.

Laura Gipe Christian, birth mother of Amber Marie Rose, who was only 16 when she was killed by the GM ignition switch defect that has killed over 124 people, and injured more than 274 others. Read Laura's letter.

In a letter to the NADA Chairman, Cally Houck and Alexander Brangman wrote:

Jewel Brangman, in this photo with her father, Alexander, was killed by a recalled Takata air bag, in a low-speed collision
"As parents of precious, beautiful talented daughters killed by recalled cars with lethal safety defects, we are appalled that you would claim that 'only 6% of recalls are "hazardous."' Our daughters were driving or riding in cars with the very defects that you claim are not hazardous, and therefore acceptable for your car dealer members to sell to the public without repairing the defects first. Not only is your assessment of the risks posed by auto safety recalls totally false, but it is dangerous, irresponsible, and dead wrong."

Alexander's daughter Jewel Brangman was only 26 when she was killed by a recalled Takata air bag that severed an artery in her neck, after a low-impact collision, causing her to bleed to death. According to Carlson, a Colorado auto dealer,  because Honda chose not to issue a voluntary, discretionary “stop drive” warning at the time, that defect was not “hazardous.”

In a report provided by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the AAMA found that auto manufacturers chose to issue a "do not drive" warning in only  6% of safety recalls. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency lacks the authority to mandate that auto manufacturers issue such a warning.


Recalled PT Cruiser that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 20 and 24. NADA Chairman claims this defect was NOT "hazardous"

Cally's daughters Raechel and Jacqueline were only 24 and 20 when they were killed by a recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser with a steering hose defect. According to NADA's Carlson,  because Chrysler chose not to issue a voluntary “stop drive” warning at the time, their deaths do not count either, when it comes to how he and the National Automobile Dealers Association decide which safety defects are “hazardous.”

The parents also wrote that Carlson shows "a stunning disregard for the individuals and families across the nation who have suffered profound losses due to defects such as exploding Takata air bags, which remain in millions of vehicles across the nation. Those ticking time-bombs have already killed at least eleven people, most recently a 17-year-old teenager in Texas. They have also blinded a military officer and a young boy, and caused many other serious injuries."

Laura's daughter Amber's crash was attributed to a faulty ignition switch in her GM Chevrolet Cobalt, which apparently shut off the engine while the car was in motion – affecting the steering and braking, and cutting power to the air bags, which didn't inflate when the car hit a tree in Dentsville, Md.

Amber Marie Rose. age 16, was killed by a faulty GM ignition switch
Laura Gipe Christian wrote to NADA's Carlson: "I am absolutely appalled by your callous comments concerning auto recalls. To say that only 6% of all safety recalls is hazardous is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. As a parent of a child who died because her daughter’s vehicle wasn’t recalled, this type of rhetoric is a slap in the face. There are hundreds of other parents in this country who have been impacted by our broken recall system. Numerous lives have been forever changed because auto manufacturers and auto suppliers like Takata were focused on cover-ups instead of safety.

Given your position, policymakers as well as consumers view you as an industry “expert” and they take your word seriously. But, your remarks down play the seriousness of a very scary situation here in our country. Frankly, you should be ashamed."
 

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) queries Dr. Rosekind,
Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
about NADA President Jeff Carlson's appalling statement:
 
 
 
Other lethal safety defects affecting millions of vehicles, where manufacturers chose not to issue a "do not drive" warning:

Raechel and Jackie's Mother asks: "Don't Raechel and Jackie's deaths count?"
  • GM ignition switches that turn to "off," causing a loss of braking and steering, and the air bags to fail to inflate when needed, in a crash
  • brake failures
  • sticking accelerator pedals
  • steering loss
  • catching on fire
  • axles that break
  • wheels that fall off
  • safety belts that fail in a crash
  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • hoods that fly up while you're driving, obscuring vision

Read more: Automotive News: National Automobile Dealers Association Chairman Jeff Carlson says "only 6% of recalls are 'hazardous.'".

Letter from Cally Houck and Alexander Brangman to NADA Chairman Jeff Carlson.

Letter from Laura Gipe Christian, Mother of Amber Marie Rose, to NADA President Carlson.

Alliance of Auto Manufacturers' report to NHTSA: how often do manufacturers issue a "do not drive" warning for a safety recall?.

NHTSA letter to Sen. McCaskill and Boxer regarding "do not drive" recalls.

New York Times: NHTSA lacks authority to mandate "do not drive" warnings for safety recalls.
 
 
Consumer - Auto Safety Groups Call on
Federal Trade Commission
To Halt Dealer Sales of Unsafe Recalled Used Cars
 
Will Federal Trade Commission protect used car buyers, or unscrupulous dealers?
Just because you can't afford a new car, doesn't mean a car dealer should be able to get away with selling you a ticking automotive time bomb with a lethal safety defect, under the guise of "disclosing" that it had an unrepaired safety recall.

That's the core message consumer and auto safety groups are sending to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, urging the agency to step up its game in protecting the American public from unsafe recalled used cars. The groups are responding to the FTC's proposal to settle cases brought against GM, Jim Koons Management, and Lithia Motors, Inc. over sales of "certified" used cars. Their advertising claimed all the cars had passed a rigorous inspection, before they could qualify to be sold as "certified". However, the dealers had failed to get the safety recall defects repaired.

According to the FTC's announcement of the settlements, “Under the proposed consent orders, which would remain in effect for 20 years, the companies are prohibited from claiming that their used vehicles are safe or have been subject to a rigorous inspection unless they are free of unrepaired safety recalls, or unless the companies clearly disclose the existence of the recalls in close proximity to the inspection claims. The proposed orders also would prohibit the companies from misrepresenting material facts about the safety of used cars they advertise.” [Emphasis added.]

The groups pointed out that "The proposed settlements would allow car dealers to sell 'certified' vehicles, advertised as having passed rigorous inspections, if the dealers merely “disclose” to prospective car buyers the existence (or potential existence) of unrepaired safety recalls. Such settlements could unfortunately do more harm than good. They could perversely encourage even more unethical and unscrupulous car dealers to engage in reckless practices and play “used car roulette” with the public's safety."

Instead, the groups urged the agency to "prohibit dealers from selling any 'certified' vehicle to a consumer if it has unperformed safety recalls. The consent orders should not rely on mere disclosure of a safety defect at all, but it would be particularly harmful to rely on disclosures of open safety recalls when a vehicle is advertised as having passed an inspection, or being “certified,” or safe.
 
The American public agrees: "Certified" cars must mean they are safe.
 
       A nationwide poll of likely voters conducted by Public Policy Polling on February 16-17 of this year found that a whopping 92% of voters who responded agreed that they would expect a car advertised as passing a rigorous inspection to be safe; 87% would expect the car to be without any serious safety defects; 77% would expect it to be free from any unrepaired safety recalls.

       An overwhelming 89% believe that when a dealer advertises that a car was thoroughly inspected and qualified to be sold as a “certified” car, but fails to repair a safety recall defect, that is deceptive. Only 21% agreed that car dealers should be allowed to advertise that a car was thoroughly inspected and qualified to be sold as “certified,” if they disclose in writing that there is a safety recall, while 75% agreed that disclosure of the recall is not enough, and that the safety recall should actually have been fixed.
 
Nationwide Polling results (Commissioned by the CARS Foundation)
 
Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20,
were killed by an unrepaired recalled car
Cally Houck of Ojai, CA, sent a similar message. Her daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, were ages 24 and 20 when they were killed by an unrepaired recalled car. She told the FTC: "I oppose the FTC's proposed settlements with GM, Lithia and Koons. Allowing dealers to sell “certified” used cars with “disclosure” would make it “open season” on car buyers and their families, by legalizing the deceptive sales of deathtrap cars. Make no mistake. Allowing the sales of recalled used cars with 'disclosure' would protect car dealers, not consumers. Not only are such practices illegal, but they are totally irresponsible and reckless, and show an utter disregard for human life."

Cally Houck's message continued:

"If the FTC's proposed settlements had been in effect when my daughters were buying a car, they would not have saved my daughters. Had they even noticed and read a “disclosure” about the recall, my girls, in their early 20's, with no engineering or mechanical experience, and no awareness of other fatalities associated with that defect, would not have been equipped to accurately assess the risk involved. If they had been told verbally that the defect did not pose a serious hazard, in all likelihood they would have believed it. And after their deaths, there would have been no way to prove what they were told."

Read more: Consumer Groups to FTC: Stop Dealers from Selling Unsafe Recalled Used Cars

Read more: Letter from Cally Houck to the FTC
 
 
Car dealer bill to legalize sales of unsafe
recalled used cars fails in Virginia
 
Richmond VA. Update: In another major win for consumers and public safety, Virginia legislators rejected car dealers' attempt to legalize selling unsafe, defective recalled used cars to consumers, without getting them repaired first.
The lawmakers faced mounting pressure from consumer advocates and safety organizations, and the potential for increased public exposure in the media. Car dealers sought changes to the law in Virginia, which prohibits them from selling unsafe recalled used cars, and protects car buyers and their families.

The biggest loser was CarMax, which has made it a practice to deliberately sell consumers vehicles that the company knows are unsafe. This victory was all the more remarkable because CarMax has its headquarters in Richmond, and has a lot of political sway. CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the country. CarMax advertises that all its vehicles must pass a "rigorous 125+ point inspection," in order to qualify to be sold as "CarMax Quality Certified" cars. But the company doesn't bother getting the safety recall repairs performed prior to sale.

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1YQkysD15g
 
 
Virginia Car Dealers to Used Car Buyers: DROP DEAD!!
Brazen Attempt to Legalize Sales of Unrepaired, Unsafe Recalled Cars with Lethal Safety Defects
 
Virginia auto dealers are mounting a sneak attack aimed at making it legal, for the first time, for car dealers in VA to get away with selling unsafe recalled used cars without fixing the potentially lethal safety defects first. The car dealers are backing two bills, SB 709 (authored by Republican Senator Ryan McDougle) and HB 1232 (carried by Republican Delegate Greg Habeeb).

The bills were introduced without fanfare, at a time when car dealers nationwide are facing increased scrutiny by federal regulators over their deceptive sales of unsafe recalled used cars and mounting pressure by the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration. In addition, CarMax, the nation's largest used car dealership chain, with headquarters in Richmond, VA, is also under fire over its deceptive and misleading sales practices, which have been the target of numerous media investigations and reports issued by the CARS Foundation and PIRG Education Funds in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Over 97,000 people have signed a petition calling on CarMax to stop selling unsafe recalled cars. https://www.change.org/p/carmax-stop-selling-unsafe-recalled-cars-to-consumers-2

It is already illegal, in all 50 states, for dealers to sell unsafe new or used vehicles to consumers. Dealers who sell unsafe recalled used cars face severe penalties and sanctions, including loss of their license to conduct business, punitive damages that may cost them millions of dollars, major fines, and other penalties for violations of state laws. For example, a jury unanimously awarded the Houck family $15 million after Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed by an unrepaired recalled car. Their parents sued under state laws that prohibit negligence or wrongful death. Dealers also face legal sanctions for violating laws against engaging in unfair or deceptive acts and practices, violating express or implied warranties, or engaging in fraud. Any dealer who fails to disclose a "material" fact -- concealing information that is important -- may be guilty of criminal fraud. Findings of fraud have sometimes led to hefty jury verdicts against dealers, helping deter other dealers from engaging in such practices.

Depending on how dealers advertise their cars, their sales of unrepaired recalled used cars may also be a violation of federal law. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission announced a crackdown against GM and its dealers, Lithia Motors, and Jim Koons Management Company, which is based in Virginia, over their advertising and sales of unrepaired recalled used vehicles as so-called "certified" cars. Typically, manufacturers and dealers advertise "certified" vehicles as being superior to other vehicles, using terms like "nearly new" and telling consumers to "expect perfection." They also charge extra for "certified" cars and claim they must pass a "rigorous" inspection of many specific components, claiming they inspect 125+ or 170 or more different points / components.

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission issued this press release, announcing the proposed legal settlements. Note: the FTC is also seeking public comments regarding the proposed settlements, and consumer / safety non-profits will push hard for the FTC to outlaw these dangerous, inherently deceptive practices. FTC News Release: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/01/gm-jim-koons-management-lithia-motors-inc-settle-ftc-actions

According to the Daily Press in Richmond, the car dealers deny that their bills are anti-consumer. Don Hall, president and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, downplayed alarms raised about the bills, and even claimed that "the vast majority of recalls are for minor things."

However, that is false. In fact, that is exactly the type of misleading, irresponsible statement that could trick car buyers into the mistaken notion that a recall may not be serious, when it may actually pose a serious risk of death or devastating injuries. It may also lead car buyers into believing there is no urgency need to getting their car's safety recall repaired.

GM similarly downplayed the threat posed by faulty ignition switch defects for over a decade, while hundreds of its customers were injured or killed. One of GM's victims was Lara Gass, a beautiful, talented, young woman and beloved daughter. Ms. Gass, an honors student and law review editor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., was driving on Interstate 81 in Virginia one Tuesday morning. According to a report in the New York Times, "On March 15, three days before the accident, Ms. Gass’s parents received the recall notice from G.M. with its warning not to drive with any objects on the key chain. Mr. Gass scanned it into his computer and forwarded it in an email to Lara, who was in Washington with friends running a half-marathon...Ms. Gass, 27, was killed after crashing into a tractor-trailer on her way to work as an intern for a federal judge."

NY Times report: After a G.M. recall, a fiery crash and a payout.

Typical types of safety defects that lead to safety recalls:
  • Seat belts that fail in a crash
  • Air bags that explode with excessive force and spew shrapnel into faces and necks, causing blindness and bleeding to death
  • Axles that break
  • Wheels that fall off
  • Child safety seat anchors that fail to latch
  • Components that burst into flames
  • Fuel leaks that cause carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Ignition switches that cause a loss of steering and braking, and also disengage the air bags
  • Sticking accelerator pedals
  • Brake failure
  • Stalling in traffic
Richmond, VA. CARS President Rosemary Shahan participates in news conference with US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind, Richmond, VA Mayor Dwight Jones, and allies from the rental car industry.
Secretary Foxx and Administrator Rosekind called upon auto dealers to stop foisting unsafe recalled rental, loaner, or used cars onto the public.
 
Daily News Report: Sudden Disagreement: Is car bill good for consumers, or bad?

    http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-ga-automobile-recall-20160207-story.html


The car dealers' legislation in VA is even worse than similar legislation that was defeated by consumer and labor organizations in California and New Jersey.  That's because it also would impose a new, unprecedented burden on consumers to get the safety recalls on their vehicles repaired. For most people, that means having to time from work, losing income due to lost hours of work, and hassling over getting an appointment to have the repairs performed. Most dealers only perform repairs during regular business hours and on weekdays, making the logistics difficult for many working families. Plus if there are no repair parts available, there could be lengthy delays -- months, or even years -- before it is possible to get the defects repaired. Meanwhile, the consumer would have little choice other than to keep driving an unsafe vehicle.

Here are links to letters of opposition to the bill in CA. The same arguments also apply to the bills in VA:

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Consumers Union

National Association of Consumer Advocates

Consumer Federation of California

James Sturdevant and Former NHTSA Administrator Joan Claybrook

Consumer Attorneys of California

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Consumer Action, CALPIRG, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, Courage Campaign, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Consumer Watchdog

Other opponents include: Trauma Foundation, Center for Auto Safety, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
 
 
Sweet Victory for Consumers
President Obama Signs Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act
Work still needed to close car dealers' "Loaner car loophole"
 
Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed by a recalled rental car
After over 5 years of battles, the U.S. Congress passed the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act in the federal Highway Bill, known as the "DRIVE Act," and President Obama signed it into law. The Act is scheduled to take effect next June. It will prohibit nearly all rental car companies, including many car dealers, from renting, loaning, or selling recalled vehicles until the safety defects have been repaired. Existing federal law prohibits dealers from selling recalled new vehicles, but there was no similar federal law regarding rentals and loaner cars.

       The new law is a major new expansion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's authority over safety recalls. For the first time, the agency will be able to police used vehicles provided by rental car companies, including car dealers, as rentals or loaners. Nearly all vehicles rented or sold by rental car companies will be required to be safe. Rental car companies are the largest purchasers of new cars in North America. They are also among the largest sellers of used cars. So this means that millions of used cars will also be safer, when they re-enter the used car market. However, thanks to a last-minute loophole added at the behest of auto dealers, the Act would apply only if the company rents or loans a fleet of 35 or more vehicles, on average – exempting many auto dealers. If a dealer rents, loans, or sells an unsafe recalled car, it would still be a violation of various state laws, but NHTSA is not able to enforce those laws.

Cally Houck has been a tireless advocate for improving rental and loaner car safety
        “I'm thrilled that we've finally passed the Rental Car Safety Act named for my beautiful, treasured daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline. But I'm worried about the loaner car loophole for car dealers and remain committed to closing that dangerous safety gap,” said Cally Houck, Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were ages 24 and 20 when they were killed by a recalled rental car. The leading champions for passage of the Act were U.S. Senators Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill, Nelson, and Blumenthal, and Representatives Capps, Schakowsky, Butterfield, and Jones. The Senate measure was also co-sponsored by Senators Casey, Feinstein, Gillibrand, and Markey. The Obama Administration was also strongly supportive of passage.

Sweet Victory! Greg Houck, Cally Houck, and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer commemorate passage of Raechel and Jackie's law. Sen. Schumer was a leading champion of the law.
       Thanks to the new law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be able to police rental car companies and dealers who have fleets of 35 or more rentals or loaner vehicles, and fine them if they violate the law – preventing tragedies like the crash that killed Raechel and Jackie.

       The Senate and House both rejected attempts by the auto manufacturers and car dealers to kill the bill, or to allow rentals and loaners of recalled vehicles with “disclosure,” which would merely shift liability onto the victims of unsafe vehicles. The rental car industry, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Dollar-thrifty, Alamo, National, and the American Car Rental Association, as well as many smaller rental car companies, helped persuade lawmakers to vote for the Act, and worked alongside Cally Houck and CARS for passage of the new law. The lone exception was the owner of Rent-a-Wreck, Jack Fitzgerald, a car dealer, who actively opposed the bill and lobbied against its passage.

        US Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), a car dealer, introduced a special-interest amendment to exempt car dealers from the bill, and to allow them to rent or loan unrepaired recalled vehicles regardless how unsafe they are, or how many people they have maimed or killed, without having to worry about NHTSA enforcement. U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) argued against the dealer loophole on the House Floor, pointing out that the amendment would mean that consumers who take a recalled car to a dealer for repairs could be loaned another recalled car with the exact same defect. Despite polling showing that the public overwhelmingly opposes this loophole, the Williams amendment passed near midnight, with few Representatives left on the House floor to cast votes, by a voice vote, with some voting “No.”

Greg Houck, Cally Houck, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Pamela Gilbert (who represents CARS in Washington, DC), celebrate passage of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. Sen. Boxer was a leading champion of the law.
       While Rep. Williams claimed that the loaner loophole would apply only to minor problems that do not affect safety, it would actually apply to ALL safety recalls, including defects such as catching on fire, brake failures, loss of steering, stalling in traffic, wheels that fall off, axles that break, child safety seat anchors that fail, seat belts that break apart in a crash, and air bags that spew shrapnel that blinds people and slices into their necks, causing them to bleed to death.

       Rep. Williams also claimed that no dealer would loan or sell an unsafe vehicle. However, many news reports have exposed cases where dealers have handed customers the keys to vehicles with potentially lethal safety defects, causing crashes and even catching a home on fire. In one tragic crash, four family members were killed by an unsafe Lexus loaner car. In Texas, Carlos Solis was killed by a recalled used car with an exploding Takata air bag when a dealer failed to get the car repaired prior to sale. CarMax, the largest retailer of used cars in the nation, openly admits that it sells large numbers of unsafe recalled vehicles without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.

       According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “All safety recalls resulting from defects present an unreasonable risk to safety and we believe it is inappropriate to suggest that some defects are not risky enough to require repair. For the safety of the motoring public, all recalled vehicles should be fixed promptly.”1

SCally Houck, Rep. Lois Capps, Greg Houck, and Pamela Gilbert (who represents CARS in Washington, DC), commemorate passage of Raechel and Jackie's Law. Rep. Capps was a leading champion of the law.
       Recently, the Campaign Legal Center urged the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to review Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams' conduct in authoring a special-interest amendment that would benefit his own business, as a car dealer.

       The Act will improve both rental car and used car safety, by reducing the numbers of recalled rental and used cars that re-enter the used car market. However, Congress failed to close the used car safety gap, due to heavy opposition from the National Automobile Dealers Association.

       To its credit, AutoNation has publicly announced that they guarantee a recall-free vehicle, including used cars. They have also announced that they will not penalize consumers who trade in a vehicle with an open recall by dinging them over the price.

Read more: LA Times: One mother spent over a decade after her daughters' deaths changing car rental laws
 
 
 
 
 
NEWS for immediate release: December 1, 2015
Contact: Rosemary Shahan, President, CARS, 530-759-9440
 
 
Congress Nears Passage of Rental Car Safety Act in Highway Bill
Safety advocates seek to close dangerous loaner car loophole
 
      After over 5 years of battles, the U.S. Congress is nearing passage of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act in the federal Highway Bill that is expected to be voted upon this week. The Act would prohibit nearly all rental car companies, including many car dealers, from renting, loaning, or selling recalled vehicles until the safety defects have been repaired. Existing federal law prohibits dealers from selling recalled new vehicles, but there is no similar law regarding rentals.

Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed by a recalled rental car
      Passage would be a major new expansion of NHTSA's authority over safety recalls. For the first time, the agency would be able to police used vehicles provided by rental car companies, including car dealers, as rentals or loaners – but thanks to a last-minute loophole added at the behest of auto dealers, the Act would apply only if the company rents or loans a fleet of 35 or more vehicles, on average – excluding many auto dealers.

      “I'm thrilled that we're finally close to passage of the Rental Car Safety Act named for my beautiful, treasured daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline. But I'm worried about the loaner car loophole for car dealers and remain committed to closing that dangerous safety gap,” said Cally Houck, Mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were ages 24 and 20 when they were killed by a recalled rental car.

      The leading champions for passage of the Act are Senators Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill, Nelson, and Blumenthal, and Representatives Capps, Schakowsky, Butterfield, and Jones. The Senate measure was also co-sponsored by Senators Casey, Feinstein, Gillibrand, and Markey. The Obama Administration has also been strongly supportive of passage.

      Thanks to this provision, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be able to police rental car companies and dealers who have fleets of 35 or more rentals or loaner vehicles, and fine them if they violate the law – preventing tragedies like the crash that killed Raechel and Jackie. Currently, it is a violation of state laws for rental car companies or dealers to engage in such practices, but generally those laws are not enforceable by individual consumers or their survivors unless they have suffered damages, such as property damage, personal injury, or death. NHTSA will be able to act without having to wait for a crash to occur.

      The Senate and House both rejected attempts by the auto manufacturers and car dealers to kill the bill, or to allow rentals and loaners of recalled vehicles with “disclosure,” which would merely shift
 
 
 
 
 
liability onto the victims of unsafe vehicles. The rental car industry, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Dollar-thrifty, Alamo, National, and the American Car Rental Association, as well as many smaller rental car companies, helped persuade lawmakers to vote for the bill. The lone exception was the owner of Rent-a-Wreck, Jack Fitzgerald, a car dealer, who actively opposed the bill and lobbied against its passage.

      US Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), a car dealer, introduced a special-interest amendment to exempt car dealers from the bill, and to allow them to rent or loan unrepaired recalled vehicles regardless how unsafe they are, or how many people they have maimed or killed, without having to worry about NHTSA enforcement. U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) argued against the dealer loophole on the House Floor, pointing out that the amendment would mean that consumers who take a recalled car to a dealer for repairs could be loaned another recalled car with the exact same defect. Despite polling showing that the public overwhelmingly opposes this loophole, the Williams amendment passed near midnight, with few Representatives left on the House floor to cast votes, by a voice vote, with some voting “No.”

Cally Houck has been a tireless advocate for improving rental and loaner car safety
      While Rep. Williams claimed that the loaner loophole would apply only to minor problems that do not affect safety, it would actually apply to ALL safety recalls, including defects such as catching on fire, brake failures, loss of steering, stalling in traffic, wheels that fall off, axles that break, child safety seat anchors that fail, seat belts that break apart in a crash, and air bags that spew shrapnel that blinds people and slices into their necks, causing them to bleed to death.

      Rep. Williams also claimed that no dealer would loan or sell an unsafe vehicle. However, many news reports have exposed cases where dealers have handed customers the keys to vehicles with potentially lethal safety defects, causing crashes and even catching a home on fire. In one tragic crash, four family members were killed by an unsafe Lexus loaner car. In Texas, Carlos Solis was killed by a recalled used car with an exploding Takata air bag when a dealer failed to get the car repaired prior to sale. CarMax, the largest retailer of used cars in the nation, openly admits that it sells large numbers of unsafe recalled vehicles without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.

      According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “All safety recalls resulting from defects present an unreasonable risk to safety and we believe it is inappropriate to suggest that some defects are not risky enough to require repair. For the safety of the motoring public, all recalled vehicles should be fixed promptly.”1

      Recently, the Campaign Legal Center urged the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to review Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams' conduct in authoring a special-interest amendment that would benefit his own business, as a car dealer.

      The Act will improve both rental car and used car safety, by reducing the numbers of recalled rental and used cars that re-enter the used car market. However, Congress failed to close the used car safety gap, due to heavy opposition from the National Automobile Dealers Association.

      To its credit, AutoNation has publicly announced that they guarantee a recall-free vehicle, including used cars. They have also announced that they will not penalize consumers who trade in a vehicle with an open recall by dinging them over the price.
__________________
1   Official statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, April 4, 2011
 
 
 
 


Car dealer Congressman's loophole for dangerous
recalled rental and loaner cars
Leads to call for ethics investigations
 
Defective Lexus loaner car kills 4 family members within hours of when Bob Baker car dealership hands CHP Officer Mark Saylor the keys
A nationally recognized government-ethics watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C., the Campaign Legal Center, is urging the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to review Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams' conduct in authoring a special-interest amendment that would benefit his own business, as a car dealer. He pushed the amendment through near midnight during debate on the House Floor over the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. The amendment would grant car dealers a special exemption from the Act, allowing them to rent or loan unsafe recalled vehicles to the public, without having to wait to get the safety defects -- such as exploding Takata air bags, catching on fire, faulty brakes, or steering loss -- repaired first.

The Center stated in a news release: “Members creating carve-outs that directly benefit their own business interests severely undermines the public’s belief that Members of Congress are acting in the public interest,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director. “The specific actions of Rep. Williams must be reviewed for compliance with current rules, but even if he did clear his amendment with the Ethics Committee, his actions are a prime example of why the current rules are both too weak and in need of further clarification.”

The Center issued a letter to Ethics Committee Chair Charles Dent (R-PA) and Ranking Member Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and OCE Co-Chairs David Skaggs and Judy Biggert, urging a review of Rep. Williams’ conduct. The Center also asked the Committee to recommend changes to clarify House rules concerning recusal [removing oneself from participating in the debate and / or vote] and conflicts of interest by Members.

Read more: Legal Center calls for review of loaner car loophole amendment by U.S. Rep. Williams

Read more: Campaign Legal Center letter seeks ethics review
 
 
 
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Buyer beware!  
NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done -- for FREE.

Plus -- dealers are actively opposing legislation in Washington, DC and in California that would prohibit them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed first.

CARS’ tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers playing “used car roulette” with customers’ lives — and opposing legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car? We want to hear your story. Contact CARS

 
Buyer Beware! Auto dealers' one-
sided contracts can ruin your life
Even if the dealer breaks the law, you might not be able to get justice. Forced arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print can keep you tied up for years. The dealer even gets to pick the arbitrator who hears your case. Here's what happened to a car buyer in San Diego:
Think this is outrageous? Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and urge them to vote for the Arbitration Fairness Act. More about the AFA, now pending before Congress:
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org
 
Here's what we're doing to bring
more attention to Jon's plight:
UsedCarNightmare.org
 
Used Car Nightmare logo

Jon Perz has started a new petition
on the Change.org website
 
You're invited to check it out and send a message letting Mossy Toyota know what you think.
used car nightmare petition


 
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