WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- U.S. car buyers would have to get most repairs subject to a recall performed before registering their vehicles under legislation being introduced by two Democratic senators concerned that too many defects are ignored.
The bill by Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would require state motor-vehicle departments to inform car owners of any incomplete recall repairs when mailing out renewal forms, and would deny registrations in many cases until recalls are completed.
The lawmakers said 65 percent of recalled vehicles are repaired within 18 months. About 46 million cars with unfixed flaws were on the road at the end of 2014, and as many 5 million changing owners during the year, according to Carfax Inc., which tracks vehicle sales and accident histories.
“This legislation represents the three R’s of automotive safety: recall, repair, register,” Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement today. “We need to inform all vehicle owners of open safety recalls and ensure repairs get made quickly so our roads are kept safe.”
The legislation is supported by Honda Motor Co., which has recalled more cars with defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators than any other automaker. Vehicle registration is a logical point to check for pending recalls, said Rick Schostek, Honda North America’s executive vice president.
“When it comes to ensuring that safety-related recalls are completed, automakers, government and concerned citizens need to work together,” Schostek said.
The bill would require that repairs be completed before a car is registered, unless parts aren’t yet available or the owner hasn’t had a reasonable chance to complete the repair. Temporary, 60-day registrations would be allowed while repairs are done under the bill.
The risk of unrepaired defects was highlighted in January when a fender-bender turned deadly for a Texas man because of a defective airbag that had been recalled three years earlier and never fixed.
That tragedy has been cited in a separate initiative, backed by the Transportation Department, to prohibit the sale of used cars that have open recalls. New cars can’t be sold with known safety defects. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx highlighted his backing at a Feb. 20 event in Richmond, Va.
“It’s still legal to sell a car that’s been recalled and not fixed,” Foxx said then. “There’s a big loophole.”