CARS logo
NEWS for immediate release: Thursday, November 4, 2021
Contact: Rosemary Shahan, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, 530-759-9440
Consumer/Safety Groups Appeal Federal Court Ruling that Lets FTC Continue To
Enable Car Dealers to Lie about the Safety of Hazardous Recalled Used Vehicles
          Washington, DC: Today, leading auto safety / consumer advocacy non-profit organizations Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), the Center for Auto Safety, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) filed a notice of appeal in their ongoing battle to protect the public from hazardous recalled vehicles, upping the ante in their challenge to the Federal Trade Commission's Consent Orders with General Motors and the publicly traded mega-car dealership chains CarMax, Lithia, Koons, Asbury, and West-Herr that allow them to engage in dangerously deceptive advertising about the safety of recalled used vehicles with deadly safety defects.

          The FTC's consent orders, finalized before any of the current Commissioners were seated, allow GM and the car dealership chains to advertise that hazardous, defective recalled used vehicles are "safe," "repaired for safety," passed a rigorous inspection, and qualify to be sold at an inflated price as so-called "certified" vehicles, without getting the free safety recall repairs done first, if they merely disclose (in English only) that the vehicles "may" have an "open recall."

          "Under the FTC's Consent Orders, a car dealer can get away with advertising that a used car is 'safe,' 'repaired for safety,' 'passed a 172-point inspection,' and qualifies as a 'certified' vehicle - even if it has the exact same safety recall defect that killed my daughters. That's appalling," said Cally Houck, mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were ages 20 and 24 when they were killed by an unrepaired recalled rental car. A unanimous jury eventually awarded Raechel and Jacqueline's parents $15 million in compensatory damages for negligence and wrongful death, under existing state consumer protection laws. The federal Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act is named in their memory.

          "Under state laws, such deceptive advertising has historically been viewed by numerous Courts as being clearly illegal. But the FTC's consent orders make it more difficult for victims of unscrupulous car dealers to use some of the most important existing state consumer protection laws,"said Bernard Brown, a nationally renowned attorney who specializes in winning litigation against car dealers who engage in fraud involving seriously defective used cars and teaches other attorneys about auto fraud litigation. Brown also serves on the Board of Directors of CARS.
          The legal appeal filed today seeks to have the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal overrule a federal court decision issued on Labor Day, September 6, ruling in the safety groups' case against the FTC before the U.S. District Court that the groups lacked legal "standing" to sue, without ruling on the merits of the case.

          When the FTC first proposed the orders, they were opposed by a large coalition of the nation's leading auto safety, consumer, and injury prevention organizations, who filed detailed and authoritative comments calling on the FTC to modify the proposed Consent Orders before they were finalized, arguing that "The kind of contradictory doublespeak that would be allowed by the proposed agreements is dangerous and inherently false and misleading. Such advertising has been found repeatedly by courts to be unfair, deceptive, and/or fraudulent."

          Leading pro-auto safety champions in Congress U.S. Senators Schumer, Durbin, Blumenthal, Markey, and Nelson and Representative Schakowsky also joined in urging the FTC to reject the Orders. When the FTC finalized them despite the Congressional opposition, Senators Blumenthal and Markey blasted them for being "anti-safety" and "anti-consumer."

          When the FTC announced the Consent Orders, the agency itself admitted how dangerous the recalled vehicles are, stating "Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety... defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers."

          "It's vitally important for Congress to enact The Used Car Safety Recall Act, S 1835, sponsored by Senators Blumenthal, Markey, and Warren, to provide the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to crack down on dealers who endanger lives by selling unrepaired recalled used vehicles, without anyone having to suffer economic damages or be injured or killed," said Rosemary Shahan, President of CARS.

          As this legal action demonstrates, we remain determined to do everything we can to protect the motoring public from dangerous recalled cars, whether they are new or used," said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.

          Unless the FTC's Consent Orders are overturned in the Courts, or Congress enacts safety legislation that overrides them, they will be in effect for 20 years from when they were finalized - until 2036. Other mega-dealers are now engaging in the same deceptive practices, and the Orders have become the standard among car dealerships, including AutoNation (the nation's largest new car dealership chain) and relatively new market "disrupters" such as Carvana and Vroom.

          Consumers victimized by car dealers' deceptive sales of unrepaired recalled used vehicles should consult an attorney familiar with state consumer protection laws. Some state laws may still apply, despite the FTC's consent orders. For example, Indiana law makes it an unfair and deceptive act or practice for any merchant to sell a recalled product. Some victims and surviving family members have won confidential settlements, alleging violations of express warranties or the implied warranty of merchantability, a breach of the dealer's common law duty of care, or negligence or wrongful death.

          The consumer groups are represented in this action by the public interest law firm of Eubanks & Associates, PLLC.

- # # -
BEWARE: Your family's safety is at risk
Greedy car dealers threaten lives, downplay the risks posed
by deadly safety recalls
Don't be tricked into buying a deathtrap on wheels
When car dealers want to make a killing by selling you a dangerously defective car at top dollar, can you trust them to tell you the truth about how hazardous it is?

Nope. Car dealers know that if you are aware how serious the safety recall defects are, chances are very good you won't buy that car, and that would cut into their profits.

So if a car dealer tells you anything at all about the safety recall defects, they usually try to trick you into thinking they're nothing to worry about. Just something minor. But don't fall for it. In reality, safety recall defects are often deadly. They injure and kill car buyers and their children, other family members, and other victims at an alarming rate.

But that doesn't stop car dealers from seeking to profit from selling the hazardous cars without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.
CarMax: Multi-billion $$ Scamster

CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. It's a multi-billion $$ company that routinely sells vast numbers of hazardous recalled cars and has some of the worst practices in the used car industry.
In a shocking video, CarMax's former CEO / current Board President Tom Folliard minimizes the risks posed by safety recalls, while speaking at a public forum hosted by Florida Tech that included many college students, who are at high risk of being injured or killed in a car crash. In fact, for most of them, a car crash is the most likely cause of death for their age group.

After boasting about his lucrative career at CarMax, Folliard (estimated net worth: "at least $125 million") took questions from the audience. When asked about how CarMax handles safety recalls, his response was stunningly reckless and misleading.

First, he said that because CarMax is not a manufacturer, they can't fix safety recalls.

Is that true? Yes and no. It's true that CarMax isn't a manufacturer. But it's false to say that means that CarMax can't get safety recalls fixed. All CarMax has to do, is hire some more employees to take the recalled cars to nearby dealerships that are authorized by the manufacturer to perform safety recall repairs. And get this: the repairs are free, for at least 15 years from when the recall was issued. So there's really no excuse for CarMax to neglect this vitally important step, especially when they advertise that all their vehicles must pass a rigorous inspection. They're just too cheap to hire enough employees to do the job.

Worst of all, Folliard downplayed the risks posed by safety recall defects, telling the audience:

"Many of them are not really safety issues, they're just open recalls. But because of all the consumer movement around it, they're all considered safety recalls."

Is that true? NO!!!
Let's look at the facts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ALL safety recall defects are serious.
Tragically, unrepaired safety recall defects continue to cause thousands of horrific, debilitating injuries and kill people.

Typical safety recall defects include:
  • catching on fire - some people have burned to death
  • loss of steering, including steering wheels that literally come off in the driver's hands
  • faulty brakes that can cause a crash
  • sticking accelerator pedals that cause cars to speed out of control
  • seat belts that fail to work when they're needed in a crash
  • child safety seat latches that come undone in a crash
  • Takata airbags that explode with excessive force and propel metal shrapnel into drivers' and passengers' face, neck and torso, often causing blindness or bleeding to death
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about the hazards posed by unrepaired auto safety recalls

"Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety. Car manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recalled tens of millions of vehicles in each of the last several years for defects that pose significant safety risks to consumers. In 2015, for example, recalls affected 51 million vehicles nationwide. And defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers."

Source: Statement of the Federal Trade Commission Concerning Auto Recall Advertising Cases (December 15, 2016)
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns: "Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety."
Mike Jackson --- New 10-16-14
Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, talks candidly about safety recalls.   Source: Tramel33166 at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Who else warns about how dangerous safety recalls are? It isn't only government officials and safety experts. It's also industry insiders, such as the CEO of CarMax's #1 competitor, AutoNation, the largest new car dealership chain in the U.S.
Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, told Automotive News:

"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers."
-- AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, quoted in Automotive News, "Used-Car Loophole Tightens up," February 8, 2016.
Infrastructure bills in Congress fail to include vital protections for America's used car buyers
Due to behind-the-scenes opposition from auto dealers, the infrastructure legislation moving in the U.S. House and Senate fails to include one of the most important auto safety measures, S1835, championed by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), and Warren (D-MA). CARS deeply appreciates their leadership in the battle for saving lives and preventing needless tragedies. S. 1835 is also supported by a widespread coalition of auto safety, public health, consumer protection, civil rights, and economic justice organizations, who sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, urging that the legislation be included in the Infrastructure legislation. However, no Republican member of Congress has been willing to stand up to the powerful, influential car dealer lobby and sponsor S 1835, and no similar measure has been introduced in the House.

At a time when the price of used cars has skyrocketed, and dealers are raking in record-breaking profits, millions of used car buyers are paying exorbitant prices for cars that are dangerous and have deadly safety recall defects.

Federal law prohibits car dealers from selling unrepaired recalled vehicles when they are new. In addition, the federal law spearheaded by CARS, working closely with Cally Houck -- the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act -- also prohibits rental car companies with fleets of 35 or more vehicles from renting, loaning, or selling recalled used vehicles. That Act, sponsored by Senator Schumer and Rep. Capps and signed into law by President Obama in 2015 as part of the FAST Act, is named for Cally's two daughters, who were 20 and 24 when they were killed by an unrepaired recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser with a defective steering hose. After they visited their parents in Ojai, California, they were returning to Santa Cruz when the defect occurred, causing an under-hood fire and loss of steering. The rental car veered across the median, collided head-on with an 18-wheeler, and exploded into flames, killing Raechel and Jacqueline at the scene of the crash.

Car dealers and auto manufacturers opposed passage of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, but polling showed that among likely voters, passage had over 90% support, and even the most right-wing Republicans were reluctant to vote against it, or speak against it at hearings.

CARS believes that whenever you buy a car from a licensed car dealer, even if you can't afford one that is brand new, you shouldn't have to worry the dealer is deliberately selling you a hazardous, defective recalled deathtrap.

State consumer protection laws in all 50 states except Pennsylvania and Tennessee, such as laws against violations of express or implied warranties, engaging in unfair and deceptive acts and practices, committing fraud, acting with negligence, failing to comply with the common law duty of care, or causing wrongful death, mean that dealers who sell dangerous recalled used cars face serious liability. But those laws tend to apply only when their victims have suffered economic damages, injuries, and / or death. Enactment of S1835 would empower the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to crack down on scofflaw car dealers who sell dangerous recalled used cars without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first, giving NHTSA the authority to investigate and issue fines, helping deter such reckless behavior, without anyone having to suffer economic damages, be injured, or die.

In Australia and the United Kingdom, it is already a serious violation of law for dealers to offer for sale or sell recalled used vehicles. If someone is injured or killed as a result, car dealers face tough criminal sanctions. As a result, compliance with auto safety recalls is higher in those countries than in the United States.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
Americans for Financial Reform
Center for Auto Safety
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Federation of California
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Kids and Car Safety
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Consumers League
Public Citizen
Safety Research and Strategies
The Trauma Foundation
June 15, 2021

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Commerce
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Roger Wicker
Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: S 1835, Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act
Introduced by Senators Blumenthal, Markey and Warren
Dear Chairperson Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker:

          On behalf of the organizations listed above, which together represent tens of millions of American consumers, workers, and their families, we urge you to vote to include S.1835, The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act, as originally introduced by Senators Blumenthal, Markey, and Warren, in the Surface Transportation Investment Act.

          This lifesaving Act is long overdue. A decade ago, in the wake of the Toyota sudden acceleration debacle, Congress directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the status of motor vehicle safety recalls and make recommendations to Congress. Among the GAO's findings, issued in June, 2011:

          "NHTSA [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] cannot require used-car dealers (or franchised dealerships that sell used vehicles) to... get the defect remedied prior to sale... With over 35 million used cars sold by used and franchised dealerships in the United States in 2009 alone, this could pose a significant risk to the safety of millions of vehicle drivers and may have a negative impact on recall completion rates." 1

          Unnecessary delays in granting NHTSA the authority called for by the GAO have already cost too many precious lives, and caused too many serious and debilitating injuries. Yet another GAO study, instead of a prohibition, would be a death sentence for vulnerable American used car buyers and their families. Delays cost lives.

          The very fact that the National Automobile Dealers Association is actively opposing this lifesaving bill, claiming that safety recall defects are trivial and do not pose a significant threat to consumers, is evidence that the bill is desperately needed, because car dealers continue to mislead the public - including their own customers -- about the hazards posed by dangerous recalled used vehicles. Car dealers commonly downplay the risks and fail to get free recall repairs done before selling hazardous ticking time-bomb vehicles to retail consumers, jeopardizing the health and safety of used car buyers, their families, others who share the roads, and those harmed by collateral damage, such as vehicle-caused wildfires.

          Tragically, car dealers fail to value human life enough to get free repairs done to fix deadly safety recall defects, even when the repairs are readily available and can be performed in a matter of hours.

          Consumers of color, recent immigrants, and teenagers and young adults buying their first vehicles are particularly vulnerable to being victimized by unscrupulous car dealers, as they frequently cannot afford the brand new vehicles that car dealers are required by federal law to repair – even though the used cars have the exact same safety defects.

          The following cases are only a small sample to illustrate why Congress must act now, to provide NHTSA the authority to crack down on car dealers who sell dangerous recalled used vehicles:

          In 2019, a car dealer in Connecticut sold a Black teenager who was buying his first car on his own a 2011 Hyundai with 11 unrepaired safety recall defects – a deathtrap on wheels. Fortunately, he found out about the recall defects and sued the dealer under state law and won a refund, plus his attorney's fees. But others are not as fortunate.

          Corey Jackson was seriously injured by a faulty ignition switch in the unrepaired recalled 2008 Buick LaCrosse he bought at a Chicago-area used car dealership in 2016. Months later, the defect occurred and he crashed head-on into a tree. The car's airbags did not deploy, due to the safety recall defect. Jackson's head slammed into the steering wheel and he was knocked unconscious. He suffered a broken jaw, collarbone, wrist and ankle. His hip was shattered. He lost his job and his car. Years later, he was still in pain and walking with a limp.
1   United States Government Accountability Office: Auto Safety: NHTSA Has Options to Improve the Safety Defect Recall Process, Issued June 2011, page 40. (emphasis added).
          The former Chairman of the NADA claimed that "only 6% of recalls are 'hazardous'," but the reality is far different. 2 Typical auto safety recall defects include:
  • Faulty brakes
  • Loss of steering, including steering wheels that come off in the driver's hands
  • Catching on fire
  • Seat belts that fail when they are needed in a crash
  • Sticking accelerator pedals
  • Ticking time-bomb Takata airbags that explode with excessive force, propelling metal shrapnel into the faces, necks, and torsos of drivers and passengers, causing serious injuries including blindness, and causing many victims to bleed to death. This deadly defect exists in tens of millions of recalled vehicles.
          This false car dealer claim is even belied by auto dealers within the NADA's own ranks. Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the largest franchised new car dealership chain in the U.S., with over 300 franchised new car dealerships coast-to-coast, described the seriousness of auto safety recalls this way:
"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers." 3
          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." 4

          In addition, the NADA is making false claims about the bill and using outdated data based on the erroneous premise that the bill would require dealers to ground all unrepaired recalled used cars, pending the performance of safety recall repairs. However, S1985 would allow car dealers to sell unrepaired recalled used vehicles at wholesale to other dealers, or to auto auctions - just not to retail customers. Wholesale prices tend to be less profitable for the dealers, but particularly at a time when the price of used cars has soared nearly 30% and car dealers' profits are skyrocketing, there can be no justification for allowing car dealers to keep charging top dollar at retail for used cars with killer safety recall defects.

          The American public is overwhelmingly on our side on this issue. According to polling conducted by Public Policy Polling in numerous states, including in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee, Maryland, and New Jersey, over 90% of likely voters oppose allowing car dealers to sell used vehicles with unrepaired recalled safety defects.

          In Australia and the United Kingdom, the car dealers' negligent and reckless behavior would be a crime, punishable by fines and - if they cause injuries or deaths - potentially also criminal prosecution.
2   "Carlson vows to press NADA's fight against regulation," Automotive News, April 2, 2016. regulation?cciid=email-autonews-asdetroit Quote in context: "Carlson said only dealers should be authorized to perform all recall repairs for all customers, though he cautioned against legislation to require dealers to fix all recalls on used cars prior to sale. Such a move would ground millions of cars unnecessarily and diminish vehicle trade-in values, because only 6 percent of recalls are 'hazardous,' he said, citing a 2014 analysis by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers."

3   AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, "Used-Car Loophole for Used Cars Tightens Up," Automotive News, February 8, 2016. (Emphasis added.)

4   NHTSA Official Statement, issued April 4, 2011. (Emphasis added.)
          But here in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration remains powerless to protect the American public - unless the hazardous recalled car is brand new or a used rental car that is subject to the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, which passed with widespread bi-partisan support and was signed into law by President Obama in 2015, despite opposition from the NADA and auto manufacturers (except General Motors and Honda).

          Tragically, the delay in enacting the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act likely contributed to the senseless death of Jewel Brangman, who was only 26 when she was killed by an unrepaired Takata airbag in a recalled Honda Civic rental car. Her father Alexander Brangman has become a tireless, internationally recognized auto safety advocate, and is also a supporter of S1835.

          Each year, tens of millions of Americans buy used cars from car dealers. Their lives, and the lives of their family members, are at stake. That is why we urge you to stand up to the car dealer lobby and vote YES on S1835.

          Thank you for your consideration of our views. Should you or your staff have any questions regarding our position, please contact Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

          Respectfully submitted,

Cathy Chase, President
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Linda Jun, Senior Policy Counsel
Americans for Financial Reform and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund

Jason Levine, Executive Director
Center for Auto Safety

Jack Gillis, Executive Director
Consumer Federation of America

Robert Herrell, Executive Director
Consumer Federation of California

Rosemary Shahan, President
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Janette Fennell, President and Founder
Kids and Car Safety

Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director

Christine Hines, Legislative Director
National Association of Consumer Advocates

John W. Van Alst, Attorney and Director of the Working Cars for Working Families Project
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)

Sally Greenberg, Executive Director
National Consumers League

Remington Gregg
Public Citizen

Sean Kane, President
Safety Research and Strategies

Andrew McGuire, Executive Director
The Trauma Foundation

Edmund Mierzwinski, Senior Director, Legislative Programs
For Immediate Release
May 26, 2021


The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act would close a safety loophole that allows car dealers to sell used cars with defective brakes, loss of steering, exploding Takata airbags, and other known safety defects
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act today to ensure used vehicles with open safety recalls are repaired before they are sold, leased, or loaned to consumers. The bill requires car dealers to repair any outstanding safety recalls in used cars prior to selling, leasing, or loaning them to consumers. Current federal law does not prohibit car dealers from selling cars with outstanding recalls despite the significant risks posed to the safety of everyone on the road. The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act addresses this glaring gap in consumer protection that confuses buyers who believe they are purchasing a vehicle with safety assurances, and threatens public safety.

"This bill will ensure that car dealers repair dangerous and defective used cars before they drive on our roads," said Blumenthal. "Americans deserve peace of mind that they are buying safe cars from car dealers, yet too many used cars today are sold or leased with known and unrepaired safety issues. This measure will close this unacceptable safety loophole, and protect drivers and the public from hazardous cars."

"All cars – whether they are brand new or used – need to be safe before they leave the lot,"
said Markey. "I am pleased to work with Senator Blumenthal on this important legislation that will make sure unrepaired cars subject to an outstanding recall are not on our roads. Closing this loophole is a critical step toward improving safety for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians."

More than 40 million used vehicles are bought in the United States each year, a rate more than double new car sales. People with lower incomes, communities of color, and people living in disadvantaged communities frequently become victims of unscrupulous sales practices when they purchase a used car from car dealers. In recent years, safety recall defects have included catching fire, defective brakes, loss of steering, and exploding Takata airbags. Under current law, auto dealers are able to sell used cars with these and other open recalls to unsuspecting consumers.

The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act would close this safety loophole, and prevent the sale of used vehicles with safety defects by prohibiting auto dealers from selling, leasing, or loaning vehicles with unrepaired open recalls to consumers. To ensure that open recalls are repaired, the bill would enable auto dealers to sell recalled vehicles to other auto dealers who have the ability to fix the defects at wholesale prices. The legislation would also establish a new reimbursement program to hold auto manufacturers accountable if they fail to provide auto dealers with the parts to repair safety defects within 60 days.

The Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act is supported by a number of auto safety and consumer groups, including Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, Consumer Action, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, MASSPIRG, U.S.PIRG, Safety Research and Strategies, The Trauma Foundation, Public Citizen, and Americans for Financial Reform.

"Consumers who shop for used cars at licensed auto dealerships shouldn't have to worry that the dealer is deliberately selling them a hazardous car without bothering to get free repairs done to fix deadly safety recall defects," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

"Vehicles are only recalled for two reasons – a safety defect or a violation of a federal safety regulation. The practice of selling these dangerous vehicles without first fixing obvious and identified safety hazards unacceptably shifts the burden from manufacturers and used car sellers onto the party least equipped to address the danger – the consumer. Senator Blumenthal's Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act incentivizes manufacturers to get recall repairs completed quickly and protects everyone on the road by closing the federal loophole permitting the sale of unrepaired recalled used cars," said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.

As the recent buyer of a used car, the safety of this market has been top of mind for me," said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Most consumers might understandably assume that car dealers are prohibited by federal law from selling cars that are under recall. This is true for new cars but not for used cars, unless they are being sold by a rental car company. This inequity is absolutely unacceptable and should compel Congress to swiftly take action on the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act. This commonsense bill requires auto dealers to repair dangerous safety recall defects in all used cars they sell, lease, or loan before they reach consumers. Families that rely upon the affordability of used cars should not have to wonder if the vehicles they purchase from a car dealer contain 'ticking timebombs' in the form of airbags that may explode, engines that may catch on fire, or other dangerous safety defects. We commend Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for their leadership and commitment to equity and safety."

"Three out of four car buyers, buy used vehicles. Thanks to Senators Blumenthal, Markey, and Warren, these consumers, who may not be able to afford to buy new, will be protected from vehicles with dangerous recalls. No product should be sold with a known defect, especially an automobile, and Senator Blumenthal's Used Car Safety Recall Act will save lives," said Jack Gillis, Consumer Federation of America Executive Director and CEO.

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here.

"What's Up With Twitter's Content Moderation Policies? "
"The silencing of one consumer advocate reflects real confusion with how speech
is handled on one of our leading platforms of communications infrastructure."
The American Prospect
by David Dayen
March 5, 2021
These Tweets from the CARS Twitter account were blocked by Twitter, even though they never provided an answer as to what language in those Tweets violated any of Twitter's policies.
"Rosemary Shahan is a consumer advocate who's been at the forefront of auto policy for nearly four decades. Through her organization Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), she has run successful campaigns to make vehicles safer and prevent used-car company rip-offs. A board member at the Consumer Federation of America, Shahan was responsible for California's first auto lemon law (which became a national model), the federal airbag mandate, and much more.

Right now, Shahan is locked out of her Twitter account, over a claim of 'abusive behavior.' That behavior involves two tweets where Shahan is engaging in the same public advocacy she has been doing her entire career. The tweets specifically target AutoNation, a Fortune 500 used-car chain with over 300 locations nationwide. AutoNation never asked Twitter to take the tweets down, a spokesperson confirmed to the Prospect. So what motivated Twitter's action?

When Donald Trump had his tweets slapped with warning labels and then had his account suspended over false claims about the presidential election, liberals cheered. Finally, Twitter was instituting its terms of service and shutting down contrary behavior. But speech policing is inherently subjective, and in the case of Shahan and others, it can be used as a weapon to block advocates from using essential communications platforms to speak out against political and economic power.

Read more at American Prospect: "What's Up With Twitter's Content Moderation Policies?"
Unsafe Used Cars For Sale
Unrepaired, recalled vehicles at AutoNation dealerships
A report created by U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Frontier Group,
and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation
Written by Jonathan Sundby, Frontier Group; Adam Garber, U.S. PIRG Education Fund;
and Rosemary Shahan, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation
AutoNation, which bills itself as “America’s Largest Auto Retailer,” is selling recalled, used vehicles that contain dangerous safety defects. Those vehicles are potentially hazardous to the people who buy them, their passengers and everyone else on the road. Vehicles with defects subject to safety recalls - including malfunctioning Takata airbags and General Motors ignition switches - have been responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths.
All vehicle safety recalls should be taken seriously, and vehicles should be repaired before sale to consumers for use on the roads. Some victims have been killed within hours of when a dealer handed them the key to a defective car. Some dealerships had a significantly greater proportion of used vehicles under recall than others. At the Chrysler Jeep West (CO), nearly 1 in 5 used vehicles - including certified pre-owned vehicles - had unrepaired recalls. At the Honda Fremont (CA), Hyundai Denver (CO), Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Fiat Johnson City (TN), and the Subaru Spokane Valley (WA) dealerships, more than 1 in 6 used vehicles contained an unrepaired safety recall.
AutoNation advertises that its used vehicles are "worry-free"
AutoNation claims on its website that "we take the risk out of buying a pre-owned vehicle," and that "as an industry leader we hold ourselves to higher standards." It also purports to "provide promises and processes you won’t find anywhere else," and advertises its pre-owned vehicles as "worry-free."

However, former AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson has admitted that vehicles with safety recalls are far from "worry-free."
"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....  These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers."
~ Former AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, "Used-Car Loophole for Used Cars Tightens Up," Automotive News, February 8, 2016.
His statement references the promise that AutoNation made in 2015 not to sell used vehicles with unrepaired recalls. But this pledge lasted less than 18 months. On November 28, 2016, AutoNation walked back on its promise and began to market recalled vehicles.
Many recalled vehicles are at dealers with service shops
capable of making repairs in-house
Most AutoNation dealerships are franchisees, which sell new cars that are affiliated with a specific manufacturer and have service shops that specialize in fixing that manufacturer’s vehicles. Since recalled vehicles typically must be returned to an authorized dealer for repairs, this should make it easier for those dealerships to make repairs to used, recalled vehicles of the same brand, as a service department capable of making the repairs often exists on-site. But, our survey found 62 used vehicles that were being sold by AutoNation dealerships of the same make as the vehicle under recall.
Some recalled used vehicles available at AutoNation had
no remedy available
Of the vehicles surveyed, 47 (16 percent of recalled vehicles) had an unrepaired safety recall for which a remedy wasn’t available at the time of the analysis. Consumers who purchase such a vehicle may have to wait for months or longer before their unsafe, recalled vehicle can be repaired.
Dealers' sales of used vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls
may be illegal
All states prohibit licensed dealers, including those that sell used vehicles, from engaging in practices such as bait and switch, false advertising, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, fraud, violating express or implied warranties and the common law duty of care, negligence or causing wrongful death. AutoNation’s failure to repair recalled cars, despite promising that it is selling vehicles that are of high quality, may violate these provisions.
The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., should grant the relief requested by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, U.S. PIRG and the Center for Auto Safety, and overturn the Federal Trade Commission’s consent orders that allow GM and the automotive dealership chains CarMax, Lithia, Koons, West-Herr and Asbury that allow them to advertise that unsafe vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls are "safe," "subject to rigorous inspections," "repaired for safety," and "certified" as long as they merely disclose that the vehicles may have an open safety recall.

The Federal Trade Commission should prohibit AutoNation and other dealers from engaging in deceptive and unfair practices, such as advertising its used vehicles as "worry-free" and high-quality when they have unrepaired safety recalls.

State attorneys general should investigate AutoNation and other dealers who engage in such practices, and enforce existing state laws that prohibit them from selling unsafe, unrepaired recalled vehicles to the motoring public.

AutoNation should honor the commitment it made in 2015 and re-institute its former policy of not selling used cars with unrepaired recalls. Dealerships across the country should follow suit and implement policies that prevent the sale of used vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls.

For consumers:
  • 1. As long as dealers continue to sell vehicles with unrepaired recalls, consumers should investigate any used vehicle they plan on purchasing to make sure that it does not contain unrepaired recalls. If the vehicle does have an unrepaired recall, consumers should refuse to buy it until it has been repaired by the seller at an authorized dealership.
  • 2. If you recently purchased a used car, you should look up the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at If there is an unrepaired recall, go to any of the manufacturer’s authorized dealerships to have it fixed.
  • 3. If you own a vehicle that is subject to a safety recall, and the parts are not available to fix the safety defect in question, insist on getting a safe loaner or rental vehicle from the manufacturer.
  • 4. Consumers or surviving family members harmed by dealers who sold unrepaired, recalled, used cars should consult an attorney in their state who specializes in representing consumers in auto warranty and auto fraud litigation.
Read more:

Download the report at UNSAFE USED CARS FOR SALE (PDF)
Call on AutoNation Executive Chairman Michael J. Jackson
AutoNation should honor the commitment it made in 2015 and re-institute its former policy of not selling used cars with unrepaired recalls.
 Act Now
Jeffrey Goldberg’s report in The Atlantic, “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,” met with flat denials by the White House. But President Trump’s actions speak louder than his words. In addition to the many other incidents that have been covered by news organizations, where Trump disparaged members of the Armed Forces, and viciously attacked Gold Star families, there’s another action he took, that goes beyond his words to demonstrate an appalling level of contempt for the military community.

If you have any lingering doubt that President Trump treats America’s brave, patriotic military heroes like “suckers,” please consider this:

President Trump ignored the voices of the entire military community and sold out our brave military heroes and veterans to greedy, unscrupulous corporate scofflaws like Wells Fargo that engage in predatory and illegal practices and have a history of preying on military service members, veterans, and their families.

Those predatory, illegal practices often create financial readiness problems that can cause members of the Armed Forces to lose their security clearances, harming their military careers, costing our nation the full benefit of their extensive training and expertise, and jeopardizing our national security.

Pres. Trump even hosted a signing ceremony in the White House with representatives of unscrupulous, predatory banking interests — behind closed doors — to celebrate his shameful, anti-consumer, anti-military act. Then the White House released a photo, showing him surrounded by gleeful GOP representatives of Congress and banking trade associations whose member banks have been repeatedly caught violating state and federal consumer protection laws, scamming their customers and engaging in massive fraud.

On November 1, 2017, President Trump holds signing ceremony with Republican members of Congress and lobbyists and representatives of banking interests, signing anti-consumer, anti-military legislation opposed by The Military Coalition.
Pres. Trump's signature on HJ Resolution 111 means that our nation's military heroes are denied basic, precious Constitutional rights they risk their lives and sacrifice to defend.

Those are legal rights that others — such as car dealers — were granted by Congress, and that President Trump himself has exploited to the hilt, as the most litigious president in U.S. history, while denying the same rights to members of the Armed Forces.
President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Republican Members of Congress killed the Obama Administration Rule That Would have Freed Wronged Consumers, Including Military Service Members, to Fight Back in Court Against Corporate Scofflaws That Rip Them Off
In 2016, The Military Coalition, a consortium of uniformed services and veterans organizations representing more than 5.5 million current and former servicemembers and their families and survivors, spoke up publicly for ensuring access to justice for all, including active duty military service members and veterans.

The Coalition includes familiar household names such as AMVETS, the National Military Family Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. They united in an effort to help ensure that military service members are free to join forces to defend themselves from illegal acts committed by unscrupulous banking interests, predatory lenders, and crooked debt collectors.

The military organizations urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to finalize a proposed rule to restore the Constitutional right to band together and fight back in an open court of law against corporate lawbreakers who prey on military personnel. Greedy, unpatriotic corporations like Wells Fargo.
Wells Fargo Preyed on Military Service Members
The scandal-riddled bank got caught illegally seizing vehicles from active duty military service members without even bothering to get a court order — a blatant violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

CNN News: Wells Fargo illegally seized soldier Dennis Singleton's car, while he was about to leave for duty in Afghanistan.
The SCRA has always enjoyed widespread bi-partisan support. It’s aimed at ensuring that military servicemembers can focus on defending our nation and fulfilling their mission without the stress and distractions posed by financial issues that are often very difficult and time-consuming to resolve, even for consumers who are not serving in a remote location half way around the world, on a submarine or aircraft carrier in the middle of an ocean, or in the midst of a war zone.

During the Obama Administration, federal investigators were alerted about a complaint that a North Carolina member of the Army National Guard, Dennis Singleton, filed with the Army’s Legal Assistance Program. He told the Legal Assistance attorney that Wells Fargo suddenly repossessed his car in 2015, just as he was deploying to Afghanistan to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom. Wells Fargo sold his car at an auction, then sought a deficiency balance of over $10,000 from him and his family — leaving them with no car, trashed credit, and a huge debt.

The investigators corroborated his complaint. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, they also uncovered “a pattern of unlawful repossessions spanning over more than seven years.”

Under fire from the DOJ, Wells Fargo eventually admitted it had illegally seized over 400 vehicles from active duty troops, without giving them any opportunity to defend themselves in court. The DOJ also charged Wells Fargo with violating the federal law against exceeding the 6% interest rate cap on loans to service members, making them more likely to default. Wells Fargo finally agreed to pay the harmed military personnel $4 million, repair their credit, and refrain from violating those laws in the future.
But there’s more....
Army Staff Sergeant Jin Nakamura was stunned to find out, while he was serving overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom, that Wells Fargo had seized his 2006 Nissan Altima - even though he had arranged for direct payments from his account before he was deployed to his new duty station.

Staff Sergeant Jin Nakamura served our nation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. While he was serving our nation, Wells Fargo illegally repossessed his car.
It wasn’t until later, when Staff Sergeant Nakamura filed a private, civil class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and other service members who were also harmed by the same illegal practices at Wells Fargo, that the cases of over 400 more active duty military personnel came to light. In a shocking display of hutzpah, Wells Fargo was busily ripping them off the same way, and seizing their vehicles, while the DOJ’s investigation was actually already underway.

According to Staff Sergeant Nakamura’s attorney, Bryce Bell, the contract that the Staff Sergeant signed when he bought his car did not include a clause that would have forced him to submit his case to the unfair, rigged system dominated by crooked corporations, known as “arbitration.” So he was free to fight back against Wells Fargo in an open, public court of law.

Staff Sergeant Jin Nakamura fought back against Wells Fargo not only on his own behalf, but on behalf of hundreds of other military Servicemembers who were harmed by Wells Fargo's illegally seizing their vehicles.
Sergeant Nakamura had to return to the mainland U.S. twice, from his duty station in South Korea, to represent the members of the class action, and gave up substantial personal leave time to meet with attorneys and give a deposition. He could have simply settled with Wells Fargo on his own behalf. If he had, he would probably have received more money. But instead, he chose to fight back on behalf of hundreds of other military Servicemembers who were also harmed by Wells Fargo's illegally seizing their vehicles.

He succeeded in getting Wells Fargo to refund $5 million in compensation the bank owed him and and more than 400 other military service members. To settle his class action, Wells Fargo agreed to refund each member of the class action $12,300. Terms of the settlement can be found here: Nakamura v. Wells Fargo.

That freedom to join forces in order to fight back against such scams, like Staff Sergeant Nakamura did on behalf of hundreds of other brave Members of the Armed Forces, is super-important for active duty military personnel. That’s because they may not be able to fight back at all, if they must act alone — especially if they are serving in a remote location or a war zone.

That freedom was guaranteed by the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but radical, controversial decisions issued by Republican-appointed Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have robbed wronged workers, consumers — including military Servicemembers — and small business owners of their right to fight back in a court of law.

Under the leadership of President Obama’s appointee Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sided with pro-consumer groups and the military organizations, and issued a rule that would have restored that Constitutional right in a major way, freeing victims of predatory lenders and crooked banks to band together and fight back in court. But it was immediately under attack.

Crooked banks, along with Republican Senators and Representatives who benefit handsomely from their campaign cash, cooked up a scheme to kill the consumer watchdog agency’s rule in Congress before it could even take effect. Their goal: to let crooked banks get away with ripping off American consumers — including members of the Armed Forces — with little or no fear of being held accountable.

So the lawbreakers could evade having to face the music in an open, public court of law, where judges and juries are tasked with applying the law, the banks were dead-set on depriving American consumers and military Servicemembers of their Constitutional rights and forcing them to submit to a rigged, privatized “alternative” system dominated by the greedy, lawbreaking special interests themselves — called “forced arbitration.”

The Military Coalition: "Forced arbitration is an
Un-American system... rigged, secretive..."
When the CFPB proposed the rule, The Military Coalition wrote in support:
“Forced arbitration is an un-American system wherein service members’ claims against a corporation are funneled into a rigged, secretive system in which all the rules, including the choice of the arbitrator, are picked by the corporation. Found in almost every financial services contract, forced arbitration clauses systematically include a provision banning the rights of consumers to band together to hold a corporation accountable. Given the exponential and expansive use of these clauses by financial institutions in contracts with service members, prohibiting the practice of forcing service members to surrender fundamental Constitutional and statutory rights through the use of pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses is now more critical than ever.

Our service members protect our nation against both foreign and domestic threats. The sacrifices and logistical undertakings they and their families make in order to serve are compelling reasons alone to ensure they are not only shielded from predatory financial practices and unscrupulous lenders, but are also able to enforce their congressionally mandated rights through our civil justice system if and when violations arise.

However, class action waivers work against these rights. They are particularly abusive when enforced against service members, who may not be in a position to individually challenge a financial institution’s illegal or unfair practices because of limited resources or frequent relocations or deployment. Furthermore, for those service members on active duty and serving overseas, it is critical to retain the ability to get justice without having to interrupt their service and distract their attention from the mission at hand. Since these types of service members cannot participate full time in pursuing an individual claim, being able to enforce their rights through the class action mechanism is essential. Thus service members should receive the benefits of participating in a class action despite their inability to shoulder the burden of bringing a claim alone.

Our nation’s veterans should not be deprived of the Constitutional rights and freedoms that they put their lives on the line to protect, including the right to have their claims heard in a trial by a jury when their rights are violated. The catastrophic consequences these clauses pose for our all-voluntary military fighting force’s morale and our national security are vital reasons for the CFPB to act quickly to finalize the regulations.”
But instead of siding with The Military Coalition, the GOP sided with the crooked banks and predatory lenders.

The Republican majority in Congress decided to exploit a rarely used law, the Congressional Review Act, to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule. That allowed them to undo the rule with a simple majority vote, avoiding a filibuster in the Senate. Using that arcane Act also had the added impact of prohibiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from issuing a similar rule in the future, unless Congress specifically allows the agency to revisit the issue.

The legislation to overturn the rule, House Joint Resolution 111, was hotly debated on the Floor of the House of Representatives. Then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other pro-consumer, pro-military champions spoke forcefully against the measure. All of the Democrats sided with consumer advocacy organizations and the military, and voted NO. But all of the Republicans, with the lone exception of Rep. Walter Jones, who had served in the North Carolina National Guard, voted AYE, and the resolution passed in the House and moved on to the Senate.

Once again, the resolution was hotly debated. Democratic Senators, including Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a distinguished U.S. Army Veteran, spoke eloquently in defense of preserving the rule. Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate Floor, blasting the legislation and quoting from letters from military groups, raising their voices for all to hear.
When the vote was taken, all the Democratic Senators sided with the military coalition and voted NO, to preserve the rule. Only two Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham and John Kennedy — both attorneys — voted NO. All their GOP colleagues voted AYE, siding with the crooked banks, resulting in a tie. For a brief time, the future of the CFPB’s rule hung in the balance.

In a historic moment of high drama, Republican Vice President Mike Pence rode to the Capitol to break the tie, arriving on the Senate Floor around midnight. He voted AYE, siding with the crooked banks, and against the military, sending the measure to President Trump’s desk.

To his shame, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who had championed the successful effort in Congress to grant car dealers a special exemption from forced arbitration and restore the Constitutional rights of car dealers to have their cases heard in a court of law, voted against restoring those same rights to regular citizens and members of the Armed Forces.

Our nation’s military doesn’t often ask anything from their Commander in Chief. In return for their selfless, immeasurable sacrifice and deep devotion to keeping our nation safe and defeating our enemies, they rarely ask their Commander in Chief for anything in return, other than to have their backs.

But in a rare move, the military community asked President Trump to veto the measure. The American Legion publicly announced their decision to call on him for a veto, declaring:
"Legion calls on Trump to veto measure that strips servicemembers and veterans of vital financial protections"
"The leader of the nation’s largest veterans service organization expressed concern over the loss of financial protections for veterans and servicemembers in the wake of a U.S. Senate late night vote on Wednesday.

Fifty-one members of the Senate voted to overturn a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule on arbitration agreements intended to provide consumers with an opportunity to sue in court when they have been harmed by financial institutions.

'Every servicemember and veteran should have the right and responsibility to confront predatory loan practices,' said American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan. 'We will not be silent while banks and payday loan shops rip off servicemembers and veterans.'"
But President Trump utterly ignored their pleas. Instead, he signed that travesty into law. Among the invited guests who smiled down upon Pres. Trump as he signed the anti-consumer, anti-military measure: GOP members of Congress and a representative of an enormous banking trade association that includes banking interests like Wells Fargo.

Because of the Republican members of Congress, Vice President Pence, and President Trump, scofflaw corporations continue to trample on the Constitutional rights of our military heroes. Crooked banks remain free to force our nation’s military Servicemembers to submit disputes to an unfair, rigged, secretive forum that those special interests dominate — private, mandatory arbitration.

The laws to protect military service members as consumers are often ignored in arbitration. No matter how unfair the decisions rendered by the arbitrators are, there is usually no opportunity to appeal. Given how burdensome and rigged arbitration is, it’s rarely even used for consumer cases.

So whenever President Trump or Vice-President Pence proclaim their supposed fondness and regard for our nation’s military Servicemembers, please keep in mind that when the chips were down, they eagerly, gleefully went out of their way to betray them to their lawbreaking Big Bank buddies.

Read more:

Wall Street Journal: Congress Makes it Harder to Sue the Financial Industry

Politico: Pence breaks tie in Senate vote to ax arbitration rule
As wildfires rage in California fueled by climate change,
CARS works to speed up switching from gas-guzzlers to newer, safer
Zero-emission electric vehicles
CARS is playing a major, pivotal role in working to win passage of legislation in California to make zero-emission electric vehicles more accessible and affordable, so consumers, businesses, and government agencies can access EVs via short-term memberships, freeing them from having to make large down payments or enter into risky, expensive long-term loans or leases.

This session, CARS worked closely with environmental group allies and the authors of AB 326, championed by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, and co-authored by Senators Ben Allen and Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Phil Ting, who are known for being pro-environment leaders.

  Pro-consumer, pro-environment legislation in California will speed up the switch from gas guzzlers to zero-emssion EVs.
CARS helped build a coalition to join in supporting AB 326, after negotiating successfully for many pro-consumer safeguards, winning support from CARS, and eventually also from the Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Action, CALPIRG, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, and the California Reinvestment Coalition. As CARS President Rosemary Shahan and Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air, wrote in an op-ed published in CalMatters:
"A plan to expand access to electric vehicles"
"Consumer and environmental organizations are joining forces with electric vehicle manufacturers to support urgently needed legislation to allow California consumers to access zero-emission electric vehicles through innovative, affordable, short-term, renewable memberships.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Democrat from Torrence, and Sen. Ben Allen, Democrat from Santa Monica, are championing Assembly Bill 326, which would establish a framework for 'Electric Vehicle Memberships' and provide easy access to EVs by allowing manufacturers to offer short-term memberships to consumers. The memberships will include registration, maintenance, charging and an insurance option, and provide a more affordable alternative to buying, leasing, or renting an electric vehicle – with no long-term financial commitment.

This legislation will also help overcome the car dealers’ near-total monopoly on sales of new vehicles – with the sole exception of Tesla – and provide California consumers, businesses and government agencies greater freedom of choice for accessing zero-emissions vehicles while also helping to ensure that this new, innovative EV membership model is regulated appropriately.

The EV industry has already created more than 275,000 jobs in California, and AB 326 will help preserve and grow jobs in that industry.

Furthermore, AB 326 will help Californians who struggle to afford a safer, more environmentally-friendly car and are faced only with options that include a high-interest loan. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ensuing economic uncertainty, business closures, job losses and unprecedented unemployment, many consumers are understandably risk-averse and leery of entering into long-term auto loans or leases.

Americans now carry more than $1.2 trillion in auto loan debt, an increase of over 75% since 2009. AB 326 opens up opportunities for more lower-income and disadvantaged consumers to break free from high-interest auto loans that are too often predatory or discriminatory, based on race.

In a recent nationwide study conducted by Volvo Car and The Harris Poll, consumers cited the upfront cost of EVs as a leading barrier to entry. AB 326 helps remove that barrier by making it more affordable for more Californians to drive EVs through a month-to-month membership without expensive long-term loans or leases.

In addition to alleviating affordability woes, AB 326 will help remove the other prominent barrier keeping many would-be EV drivers from considering an EV – “range anxiety” – a consumer’s concern over whether the range they can drive between charges will fit their lifestyle.

AB 326 will allow Californians to have an “extended test drive” of an electric vehicle with no long-term commitment and no money down. We believe, as shown by the Volvo Car and The Harris Poll study, that once a consumer tries an EV, range anxiety tends to dissipate within a few months.

AB 326 is proposed at a critical time when EV tax credits are expiring and will help clean up our air without additional cost to the state.

For all of these reasons, a broad coalition of EV manufacturers, consumer groups and environmental organizations are working together to support the passage of AB 326. The new car dealers and traditional auto manufacturers are the only opponents of AB 326. Unfortunately, the car dealers seek to hold onto their near-total monopoly over new car sales and are notoriously resistant to competition. But Californians suffering from pollution cannot afford to wait until the dealers and traditional manufacturers get over their resistance to progress in making EVs more accessible.

AB 326 is the right thing to do – for the air we breathe and for creating more jobs in California during a pandemic and economic meltdown – and we need this pro-consumer, pro-safety, pro-environment legislation now more than ever."

AB 326 almost passed, but the car dealers and Chamber of Commerce opposed it, and killed it on the last night of the legislative session.

The need for this pro-consumer, pro-environment legislation to help address climate change is all the more obvious during the catastrophic fire season that is plaguing California and the rest of the West Coast.

We're going to keep fighting and are determined to win. There's no time to waste.

CARS fights to stop deadly defects from maiming and killing car owners and their families
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety is working for enactment of potentially lifesaving auto safety legislation in Congress. The pro-safety bills are championed by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). If they are enacted, they will improve compliance with auto safety recalls, enhance reporting of serious defects, prevent distracted driving, and help stop deaths and injuries due to collapsing seat backs that kill babies, toddlers, and other children riding in the back seat -- even when they are buckled into child safety seats.

  Taylor Grace Warner was only 17 months old when she was killed by a collapsing seat back.
"In 2019, an estimated 38,000 people lost their lives in car crashes, while over 4 million people were seriously injured," said Senator Markey. "These numbers repeat year after year and reveal a public health crisis that we must not accept as inevitable. We can prevent these unnecessary tragedies with proven strategies and technologies. That's why I am proud to introduce a robust legislative package that will address several of the most dangerous safety issues on our roads. As Congress debates infrastructure and surface transportation reauthorization, I will fight for these bills and ensure that safety is at the forefront of everything we do."

"Despite decades of auto safety advancements, it is still true that one of the most dangerous things you can do is get in a car," said Senator Blumenthal. "Senator Markey and I have partnered on a comprehensive package of legislation that will put safety back in the driver's seat - addressing dangerous auto recalls, defect investigations, distracted driving, and seat back standards. Any discussion of transportation programs must include steps to protect the lives of drivers and passengers, and these proposals are the right place to start.

The first bill – the Promoting Auto Recalls Toward Safety (PARTS) Act – increases the speed and effectiveness of motor vehicle recalls in the wake of lessons learned from the infamous Takata recall. The PARTS Act will specifically authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide grants to states for use in notifying registered motor vehicle owners about manufacturer-issued safety recalls, as well as require additional reporting and an annual scorecard on how effectively automakers are completing any recalls.

A copy of the PARTS Act can be found HERE.

The second bill – the Early Waning Reporting Systems Improvement Act – fills a safety gap created by the historically low number of defect investigations launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in recent years. The legislation ensures that auto manufacturers will provide more information about incidents involving fatalities and serious injuries directly to the public. It will also require NHTSA to make the information it receives publicly available in a user-friendly format, so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves. A copy of the Early Warning Reporting Systems Improvement Act can be found HERE.

The third bill – the Stay Aware for Everyone (SAFE) Act – tackles the threat of distracted driving; a problem that is only increasing with the proliferation of "driver assistance" technologies that can encourage complacency if misused on the road. The SAFE Act will specifically require the DOT to study how driver-monitoring systems can prevent driver distraction, driver disengagement, automation complacency, and the foreseeable misuse of advanced driver-assist systems, as well as require a rulemaking to mandate the installation of driver-monitoring systems based on the results of this study. A copy of the SAFE Act can be found HERE.

The fourth bill – the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act – addresses the thousands of preventable fatalities and life-threatening injuries that have occurred because of motor vehicle seat failure during a collision. The legislation will require NHTSA to update its standards for seat back integrity in new cars, an essential action that NHSTA has neglected to take for more than fifty years despite repeated horrific tragedies involving children and infants who were killed when the vehicles they are riding in are rear-ended, and the front seats collapsed on them.

Andy and Liz Warner and their children suffered a devastating loss when their daughter and sister, Taylor Grace Warner, was killed in 2010 at just 17 months old when the front seat of their family car collapsed on top of her when they were struck from behind.

"Tragically our family is not alone in experiencing this type of unthinkable loss," said the Warners. "Hundreds of children have been killed and many more have been seriously injured because of seat back failure. This could be prevented with action by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update the safety standard, which this bill would require. Senators Markey and Blumenthal have been advocating for auto safety and supporting the cause for change in honor of our daughter and the others needlessly killed or injured. Our family thanks them for their leadership on this issue and urges Congress to pass this legislation."

A copy of the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act can be found HERE.

All four bills have been endorsed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Safety Research and Strategies, Safe Roads Alliance,, and "Tragically, COVID-19 is not the only health and safety threat our nation faces," said Rosemary Shahan, President, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. "We applaud Senators Markey and Blumenthal for continuing to champion protecting motorists and their families from deadly defects that claim precious lives."

Read more: Senators Markey and Blumenthal champion auto safety legislation to reduce the carnage on America's roads

Santander to pay $550 million over predatory auto loans
Greedy subprime auto lending giant Santander is settling charges filed by 33 state Attorneys General and the District of Columbia, by paying $550 million.

The law enforcement officials charged Santander with engaging in predatory auto lending practices, including:
  • Approving auto loans Santander knew low-income car buyers could not possibly repay, resulting in an astronomical and devastating default rate of over 70%
  • Turning a blind eye to common scams that auto dealers engage in, such as falsifying loan applications to make it appear the used car buyers had far more income than they really had
"Santander profited by approving high-cost loans to disadvantaged auto buyers who were doomed from the start," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement.

As part of the settlement, Santander will provide over $99 million in relief to thousands of California consumers who Santander approved for its abusive high-cost loans.

  Subprime auto lender Santander deliberately doomed car buyers to have their vehicles repossessed
Consumers with the lowest quality loans who had defaulted as of December 31, 2019, and have not had their cars repossessed, will be allowed to keep their car and have any deficiency balance on the loan (up to a total value of $45 million in deficiency waivers nationwide) waived.

Santander will also waive the deficiency balances for certain defaulted consumers across the country, with approximately $433 million in immediate forgiveness of loans still owned by Santander, and additional deficiency waivers of loans that Santander no longer owns but is required to attempt to buy back.

When consumers default on auto loans, lenders like Santander swoop in and repossess their vehicles, often causing them to lose their jobs. When car buyers lose their only way to get to work, some become homeless. In states like California with huge areas that provide little access to public transportation, losing a vehicle can be a death sentence, particularly for people who are elderly or disabled, or live in rural areas or other parts of the state where they are unable to access health care without a car.

Did you have an auto loan with Santander? Or was your vehicle repossessed by Santander? We're very interested in hearing from you. Please contact CARS, so we can listen to your story and help prevent more people from falling prey to scummy subprime auto lenders.

Read more:

CBS News: Attorney General Becerra Announces Over $550 Million Settlement Against Nation's Largest Subprime Auto Financing Company for Deceptive Auto Loan Practices

Also: HUGELY popular, hilarious, and biting John Oliver video showing how unscrupulous auto dealers and lenders scam car buyers
Auto dealerships re-open - but is shopping there safe?
May 12, 2020
Buying cars at auto dealerships has always been risky. But especially now, when you may be exposed to Covid-19, the risks are even greater. Plus Covid-19 isn't the only health and safety risk you face if you shop at a car dealership.

Many auto dealers don't care enough about their customers' safety to take the simple step of ensuring that FREE safety recall repairs are done to fix deadly safety recall defects.

Auto dealers neglect to get free repairs done to fix killer defects like:
  • bad brakes
  • steering wheels that literally come off in the driver's hands
  • exploding Takata airbags that are like having a hand grenade go off in your face, causing blindness or bleeding to death
  • catching on fire
  • sticking accelerator pedals
So can you trust auto dealers to protect you from Coronavirus? Obviously, the answer is NO.

Even huge auto dealership chains like CarMax and AutoNation sell hazardous vehicles with safety defects that have killed hundreds of people and seriously injured thousands more.

They spend millions in advertising to lure car buyers to their stores, trumpeting that vehicles they offer for sale must pass an "inspection." They list over 100 components that are supposedly inspected. But don't be fooled. They routinely fail to fix components with serious safety recall defects that are likely to kill you or someone you love.

CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. They raked in over $18 billion in revenue last year, and are publicly traded on Wall Street.

CarMax used to hire employees and task them with delivering recalled cars to nearby new car dealerships for free repairs. New car dealers liked to get the work. Auto manufacturers compensate their franchised dealers for performing safety recall repairs, so it's a money-maker for them.

Do Bill and Melinda Gates know that AutoNation deliberately sells consumers dangerous recalled cars with killer safety recall defects?
But then CarMax decided they could make more money by lowballing consumers who traded in recalled vehicles, then selling them rapid-fire for high retail as "CarMax Quality Certified" vehicles without waiting for the free repairs.

AutoNation is also publicly traded on Wall Street and boasts they are a Fortune 500 company with over $21 billion in revenue. Their largest investors include the trust controlled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At first, AutoNation announced they would guarantee that all their vehicles were recall-free. But when Trump was elected, faced with competitive pressure from CarMax for investor dollars, they gave up and started selling dangerous recalled vehicles too.

The kicker: If you are injured or killed, or harm someone else because of an unrepaired safety recall defect, the dealers will blame YOU for buying a dangerous car from them.

Learn more:

CBS News: CarMax Accused of Selling Unsafe Vehicles

CBS This Morning: AutoNation Accused of Selling Recalled Cars

CARS tips: How to get a good deal on a nice, safe used car without the risks of buying from a dealer
Profiles in GREED:
Multi-billion $$ mega-dealers AutoNation, Penske, and Group One Grab
At least $144 million from Paycheck Protection Plan
Trump Administration Aided Giant Corporations in Exploiting Loophole
AutoNation, the nation's largest retailer of new vehicles, boasts that it's a "Fortune 500" company with 26,000 employees and stores in over 300 locations in 18 states. In 2019, AutoNation raked in over $21 billion in revenue.

The corporate behemoth is also publicly traded on Wall Street. According to Barrons, "Bill Gates remains AutoNation's largest shareholder. Through shares held by the [Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] trust and 18.4 million AutoNation shares that Cascade owns, the co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT) still has total ownership of 19.3 AutoNation shares, a 21.6% stake."
  AutoNation grabbed at least $77 million that was supposed to help small businesses survive during the Covid-19 lockdown
Penske Automotive, another giant auto dealership chain publicly traded on Wall Street, hauled in over $22.8 billion last year.

Group One Auto's annual revenue was $12 billion.

So how did AutoNation, Penske, and Group One grab at least $144 million from the U.S. Treasury's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), while struggling businesses like restaurants, beauty parlors, nail salons, print shops, booksellers, self-employed people, and other small businesses tried in vain to access relief that was supposedly going to help them keep the wolves from their doors?

The PPP was supposed to be limited to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. But AutoNation, Penske, and Group One exploited a loophole provided by the Trump Administration's Small Business Administration for mega-businesses with franchises in multiple locations, allowing them to each file for relief separately, even when they are all owned by the same conglomerate.

  If you're a small business owner, did Autonation grab your PPP cash before you could?
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) tutored its mega-dealer members on how to exploit the loophole, instructing them how to get around the 500-employee limit. The key to evading that limit was for the auto manufacturers to get a "franchise identifier code" from the Small Business Administration, so their dealerships could all masquerade as "small businesses" even when in reality they are enormous.

The NADA also engaged in various machinations to make sure all their dealer members, regardless their size, could apply for the taxpayer funds. The NADA brags that when the CARS Act was first passed, only about 25% of the U.S. auto manufacturers had obtained the coveted codes from the Small Business Administration. However, "in response to strong urging from NADA, all [the auto manufacturers] without codes quickly applied for them. And again in response to NADA's advocacy, the SBA has now granted all of those applications."

Basically, the NADA is trumpeting the fact that huge auto dealership chains exerted their influence with the Trump Administration, to get the SBA to expedite providing those handy "franchise identifier codes" in time to scarf up at least $144 million of taxpayer dollars before day care centers, ice cream parlors, pet sitting services, bakeries, or other mom and pop stores desperate for cash even had a chance.

Here are the NADA's tips:

The 500 Employee Size Limit in the Paycheck Protection Program Section of the CARES Act: How Does It Apply To Dealers?

In fact, AutoNation may have snatched even more. According to the Washington Post, "Documents show the company may have received even more money, a total of $95 million, spread across dozens of locations, an amount that would be more than triple the amount any company is known to have received through the fund." The article notes that "AutoNation disputes the $95 million figure."

AutoNation sells dangerous recalled used cars without repairing safety defects like exploding Takata airbags. Stephanie Erdmann was blinded in one eye by this life-threatening defect.
While AutoNation claims it has returned $77 million in taxpayer funds it scooped up from the PPP, without an independent audit of the program, they can hardly be believed. For weeks, while other corporations like Shake Shak and Ruth's Chris SteakHouse, facing a firestorm of protests, surrendered their ill-gotten millions. Meanwhile, ignoring the plight of small businesses and laid-off workers, AutoNation callously clung to the vast sums they seized from taxpayers -- until they were contacted by reporters from the Washington Post.

This is not the only way AutoNation is exploiting loopholes provided to auto dealers by the Trump Administration.

AutoNation is also jeopardizing public safety by deliberately selling its customers hazardous vehicles without repairing deadly safety recall defects first.

When Trump was elected, AutoNation's CEO Mike Jackson announced AutoNation was reversing its policy of guaranteeing a recall-free car, and commenced selling dangerous deathtrap vehicles -- including vehicles AutoNation knows cannot be repaired for prolonged periods, due to severe shortages of replacement parts.

Last fall, researchers for USPIRG Education Fund, the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation, and Frontier Group found that more than 1 in every 9 vehicles AutoNation offered for sale at 28 dealerships in 12 states, among 2,400 vehicles surveyed, had at least one unrepaired safety recall. Typical defects: catching on fire, faulty brakes, loss of steering, sticking accelerator pedals, and explosive Takata airbags that are ticking time bombs that spew shrapnel into drivers' and passengers' faces and necks, causing serious injuries including blindness and bleeding to death.

Read more:

Washington Post: AutoNation, a Fortune 500 company worth billions, says it received nearly $80 million in SBA funds

Automotive News: AutoNation retreats on used car recall policy

Also: Unsafe Used Cars for Sale: Unrepaired recalled vehicles for sale at AutoNation dealerships

Are car dealers exposing people to coronavirus?
March 23, 2020
Lara Gass died in a car fire Tuesday morning, March 18, 2014, on northbound Interstate 81 after a chain reaction wreck during icy conditions.
Many car dealers engage in reckless practices that put lives at risk. Like selling new or used vehicles without bothering to get the FREE safety recall defects fixed first. Tragically, some people have been seriously injured or killed by car dealers who sold them cars, trucks, or SUVs with deadly defects.

So it’s only reasonable to ask: Are auto dealers also exposing car buyers and their families to the coronavirus? Some car dealers are attempting to reassure prospective car buyers, who are understandably concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, not to worry. For example, AutoNation claims on Twitter that it ”can service and then sanitize your vehicle with Clorox® Total 360®.” The use of the term “sanitize” implies that there’s nothing to worry about.

Stephanie Erdman's life 'changed forever' when she lost part of her vision after a minor accident in her 2002 model Honda.
But how can anyone trust AutoNation, when their then-CEO told the whole world — right after Pres. Trump was elected — they were going to rev up their sales of seriously defective recalled used cars? Especially vehicles where there are no replacement parts available, so if you buy one of their “cream puffs,” there’s no way you can get it fixed, for weeks or months. Meanwhile, you are left to ride around in a potential deathtrap.

Last fall, Researchers found that more than 1 in 9 vehicles AutoNation was offering for sale at various stores across the nation had at least one unrepaired safety recall defect. Like faulty brakes, catching on fire, loss of steering, accelerator pedals that stick, stalling in traffic, hoods that fly up and obscure the driver’s vision, and many vehicles with ticking time bomb Takata airbags that explode like having a hand grenade go off in your car, causing devastating injuries such as blindness or bleeding to death.

If a huge car dealership chain that rakes in billions of dollars a year, is a Fortune 500 company, and touts Bill Gates as its biggest investor, will stoop to deliberately selling vehicles that grossly defective and unsafe, can you trust them to protect you from an unseen threat like coronavirus? Do you want to bet your life on it?
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
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Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
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