A new consumer report is criticizing auto retail giant AutoNation Inc. for having a number of used vehicles with open recalls on its lots, including some with Takata airbags and defective General Motors ignition switches.
AutoNation disputed the report's conclusions.
"Unsafe Used Cars for Sale," a report by the independent United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and nonprofit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, surveyed 2,429 used vehicles at 28 AutoNation dealerships in 12 states in July and August.
The groups found 285 vehicles — about 1 in 9 used vehicles it reviewed — were for sale with unrepaired recall defects, although it is legal under federal law to sell such vehicles. The defects included issues that could cause stalling or fires, seat belt failure or steering malfunction, according to the study.
AutoNation in 2015 pledged it would not sell any vehicle — new or used — with an open recall. Just more than a year later, in November 2016, it reversed course and began selling used vehicles again with open recalls.
Federal law prevents dealerships from selling new vehicles with open recalls. Legislation was introduced in the Senate this summer that would require used-vehicle dealers to repair recalled vehicles before selling, leasing or loaning them to consumers.
"By selling recalled cars with safety defects, AutoNation puts customers in danger before they even reach home," Adam Garber, consumer watchdog at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said in a statement. "The only way that AutoNation can ensure a 'worry-free' purchase is to repair every recalled vehicle before selling it."