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A New Article from Consumer Reports About Lemons Contains Unfortunate Inaccuracies and Misleading Information

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Consumer Reports, usually the gold standard for consumer reporting, has put out an article on buying lemon vehicles and what to avoid which is surprisingly deficient. See the article here, and please note that you should always contact a lawyer to see what your state requires. Also see some of the problems I note with the article from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports’ Information about Safety Recalls Omits Crucial Information & Could Be Misleading

Here’s what they say:

“Check to see if any recalls were issued and if recall service was performed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists all official recalls. Ask the seller for documentation on recall service. If any recall work has not been performed on a car that you’re considering, it should be done as soon as possible. Automakers are required to perform recall service free of charge, regardless of the vehicle’s age or how long ago the recall was issued.”

Unperformed Recall Repairs Are Dangerous and Should Be Fixed as Soon as Possible

As Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) has noted, Consumer Reports fails to warn people to insist that all safety recall repairs be performed prior to accepting delivery. They also fail to mention that with some defects, like Takata airbags, repairs may not be available for lengthy periods of time.

Meanwhile, car buyers, their passengers, and others are often being put at great risk. The Consumer Reports article implies people have enough time to get their repairs done before disaster strikes. Unfortunately, that is not a safe assumption. Ask the families of the California Highway Patrol officer and his wife, who were killed, along with their 13-year-old daughter and her brother-in-law, within hours after a dealer handed them the keys to a defective loaner Lexus. Plus they fail to mention that it’s already illegal in some states for dealers to sell unrepaired recalled cars, particularly if they were advertised as “safe,” or “certified”. In Virginia, all they have to do is advise you, which will occur in some obscure document among the twenty or so that you sign prior to sale, that there may be certain recalls that we have not been performed.

The advice is also incorrect about how long manufacturers have an obligation to provide recall repairs. Under the FAST Act, it was extended from 10 years to 15 years from when the recall is issued, often leaving owners of older, unrepaired recalled cars facing expensive, unanticipated repairs they may not be able to afford.

John C. Gayle, Jr.
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Consumer Law Pioneer and Co-Author of Virginia's Lemon Law
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