Posted in Blog on December 16, 2015
An investigation by Denver7 recently revealed a shocking truth about Colorado’s vehicles reselling: the state has sold dozens of automobiles that were under recall without having the necessary repairs performed or telling the buyers beforehand.
Denver7 reported that investigators reviewed the records of eBay sales by Colorado of its retired state fleet cars. So far, the state has sold 316 cars this year, but data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 65 of the cars sold have open recalls in the NHTSA database. Further record searches revealed that many of the recalled cars went to auto dealers, and the recalls were sent out before the sale dates.
Every one of the state’s eBay listings note in some way that every issue with the vehicle being sold is disclosed. All listings also feature the phrase “We don’t sell surprises!”
Dennis Dunsmoor, Colorado Correctional Industries Director and the man in charge of the state eBay sales program, spoke to Denver7 team member John Ferrugia. Dunsmoor said he was surprised to find out that recalled cars were being auctioned without having the repairs done. The program director also said the listing of mechanical problems and deficiencies for each car comes from the State Fleet Management Department’s vehicle records.
It turns out that the maintenance records do not include incomplete recalls; this was confirmed by State Fleet Manager Scott Edwards. According to Edwards, the cars are sold “as-is” and it is up to buyers to perform due diligence before purchase.
This explanation did not sit well with people who purchased cars from the state’s eBay account. Jordan Dean, who bought a 2003 Chevrolet Impala, learned from the Denver7 team that his car was part of a 2014 recall for a dangerous ignition switch issue in General Motors vehicles. Dean was naturally upset because he had been driving the car without knowing about the potential danger or the necessary repairs.
Edwards pointed to part delays with dealerships and manufacturers and the large volume of cars the state oversees as part of the reason recall repairs were not carried out before the fleet vehicles went up for sale. The investigation has resulted in a policy change for the state’s eBay auctions, which will now have documentation of incomplete recalls as part of its car listings. Buyers who purchased cars with incomplete recalls will also be notified.
The NHTSA also maintains a VIN-specific recall database that consumers can check before buying a vehicle. Even though car history reports might include recall information, it’s not a guarantee. Denver7 investigators purchased two car histories for a recalled vehicle from different companies, for example, and neither report showed the recall.