AutoNation Inc.'s pledge not to sell vehicles -- new or used -- with an open recall lasted only about 16 months.
The country's largest new-vehicle retailer resumed selling used vehicles with open recalls on Monday, Nov. 28, after AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson concluded that Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election meant the end for legislative efforts to require used vehicles subject to recall to be repaired before they are sold. Federal law prohibits retailing new vehicles with open recalls.
"If parts are available, we repair them," Jackson told Automotive News. "If the parts are not available, we'll either auction or retail it. In both cases, we use full disclosure if we retail or auction it without having made a repair. It's been a very difficult journey, but with the Trump administration there's no way that that issue is going to be addressed from a regulatory point of view."
AutoNation's decision is a striking reversal of a pledge it extensively touted. Jackson in effect is throwing up his hands on a policy he had hoped would bring widespread change to the industry.
In September 2015, AutoNation announced that six weeks earlier it had stopped selling any vehicle at retail or wholesale with an open recall. The company talked up the pledge widely, even including it in advertising messages. Jackson said then that any sale of an unrepaired vehicle "is not a responsible solution. You're just kicking the can to somebody else."
He hoped other major auto retailers would follow his group's lead.
But they did not, and the Takata airbag crisis worsened. By the end of 2015, AutoNation had reversed one key element of its policy and allowed some recalled vehicles to go to wholesale auction if the lack of replacement parts meant those vehicles would be grounded for six months or more.
Those auctioned vehicles included prominent window stickers declaring that they had an open recall.