AutoNation is betting that President-Elect Donald Trump would not care about auto safety. According to ConsumerAffairs.com, the new-car chain has backed down on its pledge to fix all outstanding recalls before selling cars to customers, apparently under the assumption that Trump will not pursue the matter. On November 28, AutoNation started selling used vehicles with open recalls after its CEO Mike Jackson concluded that Trump’s victory would mean the end of legislative efforts to require used car dealers to stop selling recalled used cars that have not been repaired.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) say AutoNation should not be allowed to get away with its actions. They have said that after reneging on its promise to repair all cars recalled for safety issues, AutoNation now bears the responsibility of informing consumers about its “broken promise.” They added that the company now has an obligation to publicize its decision to reverse course as widely as it did its original move to repair the vehicles.
Blumenthal and Markey are the authors of the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act, introduced in 2015, which would require used car dealers to repair any outstanding safety recalls in used vehicles prior to selling or leasing. They also wrote the Repairing Every Car to Avoid Lost Lives (RECALL) Act, which would require vehicle owners with open safety recalls to be notified. Auto Nation, which is the largest car dealer chain in the country, voluntarily adopted its policy of repairing all recalled cars around the time the bill was introduced.
Holding Dealers Accountable
The company’s CEO has said that his company will now only try to perform all outstanding recalls and if it is able to do so. But, he has said that recalls won’t be fulfilled if a manufacturer fails to make parts accessible. He also doesn’t believe that the Trump administration will push this legislation through. If the parts are not available AutoNation will either auction or retail the vehicles. In both cases they would use full disclosure if they sell or auction the vehicle without making a repair.
AutoNation’s move of course is deeply disturbing. It will once again put unrepaired, recalled vehicles with serious safety defects on our roadways, endangering public safety. It is not clear what position the Trump administration will take on the matter of auto safety. But, it is presumptuous for AutoNation to renege on its promise and say it won’t repair vehicles because Donald Trump won’t care.