Used Car Recall Dangers: What Dealerships Don't Have To Tell You

If you are in the market for a used car listen up.

There are some hidden dangers you need to know about.

The used car you bought could have a dangerous defect.

A study by found more than 2.7 million used vehicles listed for sale online last year had at least one unfixed safety recall.

How serious is it? The federal government does not recall cars unless a defect could cause a serious risk to passengers in a car or others on the road.

In an KMPH investigation, reporter Erik Rosales found several vehicles for sale that have unfixed recalls at a local used auto dealership.

"They don't want to take them off their lot to get them fixed before they sell them because that customer is ready to buy it today and may in fact go to another used car dealer and buy a different vehicle," said Clarence Ditlow with the Center for Auto Safety.

How can it happen?

There's no federal law requiring used car dealers or private sellers to tell buyers about unfixed recalls.

The two main used car dealer trade associations would not talk to KMPH.

But the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association says, "It encourages used vehicle dealers to repair the open-recall before selling the vehicle to a customer and at a minimum disclose it"

Experts say some dealers do go the extra mile, however.

Jeannie Fallon with Edmund's says, "Many dealers will bring a used car up to speed on its recalls before they sell it and actually if they do it's a sign they take really good care of their cars and really good care of their customers."

However, the other used car dealer association says it is on vehicle owners and used car buyers to get recalls fixed.

To improve safety, the National Automobile Dealers Association urges, "Vehicle owners to have recalled vehicles fixed as soon as possible."

If you have your car's vehicle identification number, or VIN number you can pick up the phone and call your local dealer to see if you have any unfixed recalls.

There are also a number of websites, like, which will allow you to enter your VIN number and check for open recalls online.

Just a reminder, dealers must repair recalls for free.