In the wake of the massive GM recall that encompasses millions vehicles, dealerships are bound to take in a large chunk of these cars and resell them. The L.A. Times reports that a proposed law in the California legislature wants to be sure that those cars are fixed before they are sold to buyers. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill's sponsor says, "Current law does not require car dealers to disclose or fix an open recall on a vehicle before selling it."

Let's reflect on that for a moment...Not only are dealers not required to fix a car with an open recall despite the fact that the manufacturer would cover those costs, they are not even required to tell you that this car has an open recall.

"(SB 686) would prohibit new and used car dealerships — regardless of size — from selling a used vehicle "if the dealer knows or should have known" that it had been recalled by its manufacturer. The dealer would be required to have the issue fixed — a cost covered by the automaker — or sell it to another dealer."

Federal law prohibits new cars from being sold with an open recall, but this legislation does not cover pre-owned sales. Of course the law is facing opposition from dealers who claim that it would be too difficult to keep track of all the recalls that are issued.

Given that GM dealerships are facing both a parts shortage for recalled replacement components, coupled with the fact that owners are waiting in a back-log of repairs, many are opting to trade in or sell their car.

Autotrader is currently listing over 7 thousand pre-owned Cobalts nationwide. This number is expected to grow in the coming months. With thousands of vehicles coming onto dealer lots with active open recalls consumers are going to need to be extra vigilant to be sure they are getting a repaired vehicle.


This "stealership" in the Inglewood CA area is advertising a 2009 Cobalt for sale with a ** CLEAN TITLE/CLEAN CARFAX **. Not only does this Cobalt have two open recalls listed on the CarFax, but also "accident/damage" on the report!

Many large dealerships will not want to spend the time and money fixing a recalled vehicle that was traded. They will often send these cars to auction to be picked up by other less reputable used car lots. Currently SB 686 is stalled in the assembly, but if it passes expect to see more cars with open recalls being moved to states where this law is not effect.


What do you think, should the Feds step in and update the recall legislation to cover pre-owned vehicles?

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@AutomatchTom is a professional car buying consultant, lover of all things automotive and a bit wagon obsessed. You can find more ramblings and plenty of carporn here.