At Carr Auto Group near Portland, Ore., figuring out which of the 1,000-plus used vehicles in inventory have open safety recalls used to be the job of a lone administrative assistant in the reconditioning department.
The employee ran a report each Monday, checking vehicle identification numbers individually against the manufacturers’ recall sites. If the employee was sick or on vacation, the job didn’t get done.
That approach hampered Carr’s ability to pinpoint recalled used vehicles, said Brad Preble, the group’s president.
“We were more progressive in our approach than most dealers, but we still had this hole in the system,” Preble said. “We decided that you really can’t have a situation where you’re supposed to know [about a recall] and you don’t. That’s too much risk and liability.”
The question of what to do with recalled used vehicles is a broad gray area for the industry and a growing problem for dealers amid the flood of industry safety recalls over the last two years, including the ever-expanding Takata airbag recall, which now affects around 70 million vehicles. While federal law bans the sale of new vehicles with pending recalls, there is no such law for used ones. Some manufacturers instruct their dealers not to sell them; others don’t.
But before dealers are even able to craft a policy for their recalled used vehicles, they need a good system for sifting through their inventory to find them.