Consumers for Auto
Reliability and Safety ®

The C.A.R.S. Foundation

Buyer Beware:
Hazardous Hurricane Ian Flood Cars For Sale
We all saw the images of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, including vehicles floating in flood waters. It’s estimated that over 358,000 vehicles were submerged – many of them in highly corrosive salt water.

Live far away from Florida? You may think you don’t have to worry about flood cars from Hurricane Ian showing up near you. But flood cars are often shipped to auctions in other states and end up all over the map. Many will be resold in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Carolinas. But others will be shipped to far-flung states. Flood car crooks target certain states because they have large car markets and can command higher prices. Like California, New York and Texas. Plus consumers there may not be on the lookout for flood cars, making them easy prey for scamsters.
New Cars Get Flooded Too
Even if you’re in the market for a new car, it’s important to be on high alert.

A new vehicle can become just as damged and unsafe from flooding as an older one.
That’s because it’s not only used cars that get flooded. New cars that were submerged while parked on car lots at large, franchised new car dealerships are also declared a total loss. But that’s not the end of the road for those “brand new” cars, SUVs, and trucks. Instead of being crushed, water-logged cars are towed away and parked in row after row, covering acres of vacant land. They sit there with the sun beating down on them, causing mold, bacteria, and mildew to grow. Some are still festooned with seaweed and slathered in grime and slime.

Then they’re shipped to auction companies like Copart and Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) that have ties to auto insurers. Copart and IAA brazenly trumpet the fact they have flood- damaged cars available. For example, on October 18, IAA offered 9,968 “Hurricane Ian” vehicles for sale. They sell them to the highest bidders, who can bid online. The buyers may be from distant states, or even other countries.

Unscrupulous characters buy flood cars at a discount, spiff them up, attempt to mask the musty odors, and quickly resell them. Car dealers are eager to snap them up. Then they sell them for top dollar, without any discount. That way, they not only make a fatter profit, they also are less likely to arouse suspicion that something’s wrong. If the car is marked down, buyers are more likely to be wary. In other words, the “normal” pricing is part of the deception.

Some car dealers sell severely damaged or flood cars as so-called “certified” vehicles, advertising that they passed a rigorous inspection and charging hefty markups. The bottom line: don’t trust any seller, whether they’re an individual or a car dealer. Check out the car yourself, before you buy.
Why avoid flood cars?

Flood cars are hazardous. Today’s cars are basically computers on wheels. All the sophisticated safety systems, including the braking, steering, stability control, and navigation features, are controlled by electronics and by millions of lines of computer code. Imagine dropping your personal computer into the ocean, and letting it soak. After it gets a dousing in salt water, even if you were able to start it up, the sensitive electronics are doomed to corrode.


Flood cars are harmful to your health. Besides being unsafe to drive, flood cars are hopelessly contaminated with spores, mold, bacteria, and various toxins. They’re prone to causing serious health problems, particularly for people with asthma, allergies, and compromised immune systems. Even if they’ve been cleaned up cosmetically and sprayed to mask the odors, they are basically rotting from the inside out.


Flood cars are inevitably going to have massive, expensive problems that defy repair. Worse, even if you pay extra to get a new or “nearly new” car with a warranty from the manufacturer, that warranty will be deemed to be void. Some consumers have found this out the hard way, paying top dollar for “new” vehicles that were submerged in a flood. They immediately experienced major problems. Then they were shocked and dismayed when the manufacturer refused to honor the warranty, citing the fact the car had been flooded and declared a total loss.

Extended service contracts are also void. Typically, service contracts exclude “pre-existing conditions” such as being wrecked or flooded. So you could end up paying a lot more for the coverage, but be unable to use it to cover expensive repairs.

If you try to resell the car, dealers or other consumers will most likely offer you far less than you paid, or still owe to a lender. Or they may flat-out refuse to buy it. Worst case scenario – you could get stuck with an expensive, unsafe lemon car you can’t drive, can’t fix, and can’t sell.
How to avoid flood cars
Following a few simple step can help you avoid being saddled with a dangerous flood damaged vehicle.
Don’t expect to find a mackerel on the manifold or a trout in the trunk. Scamsters are too smart for that. They scrub and clean the cars, spiffing them up cosmetically. They may remove the floor mats and even replace some of the upholstery. They spray cans of deodorizers in the interiors, to disguise unpleasant smells. So at first glance, the cars may appear pristine. But behind that appealing facade, they’re rotting from the inside out. So be sure to look deeper. The time to do this is BEFORE you agree to buy.

Here are steps you can take to stay safe and avoid hazardous flood cars and also steer clear of cars with deadly safety recall defects. To save you time and money, the easiest, least expensive steps are first. That way, you can eliminate the worst lemons before you spend more time or hard-earned dollars.

Step 1: Get the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. This is a unique number, usually 17 digits. It’s like the vehicle’s fingerprint. The VIN unlocks a treasure trove of information about a car’s past. Typically, the VIN is stamped on a small metal plate on the dashboard. It’s usually also on a sticker inside the driver door jamb, on the title, and on sales documents. It may also be displayed in ads.
Check FREE database of unsafe vehicles with deadly safety recall defects
Step 2: Enter the vehicle’s VIN at the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here. This is quick, easy, and free. Auto manufacturers are required to provide information about deadly safety recall defects to this government website. If the vehicle has an unrepaired safety recall defect, it’s too risky to buy, even if it wasn’t flooded. When you check here first, you can save yourself from paying anything or taking any more time to look further.

Warning: The way auto manufacturers describe defects in their recall notices may make it seem like the defects are not a serious threat. But that can be deceiving. For example, a recall due to “floor mats” caused the tragic deaths of four members of a family in San Diego who were on their way to a soccer game when the defect caused the accelerator pedal to stick. BMW describes one recall defect as causing a “thermal event.” Translation: the car is prone to catching on fire, and bursting into flames.
Next: IF the vehicle passes the safety recall test
Step 3: Enter the VIN at the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, or NMVTIS. This database of total loss vehicles is operated by the U.S. Department of Justice. All the U.S. states, except for Hawaii, participate and share data with NMVTIS. This is the best place to search next, specifically for total loss flood cars.

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety sued the U.S. DOJ and won, compelling the DOJ to issue federal rules that require each of these businesses, in all 50 states, to report every vehicle under 5 model years old that they declare a total loss to NMVTIS, within 30 days (many report daily):
  • Auto insurers
  • Self-insured entities, including large auto dealership chains and rental car companies
  • Salvage pools and salvage auctions, such as Copart and Insurance Auto Auctions
  • Junkyards
  • Auto recyclers
  • Scrap vehicle shredders
  • Scrap metal processors
  • Vehicle remarketers
NMVTIS is the only database where insurers must report vehicles they declare a total loss, within 30 days, in order to comply with federal law. When it comes to total loss vehicles, NMVTIS tends to be more up-to-date and complete than other databases, and often captures total loss vehicles that other databases miss. That’s largely because totaled vehicles must be reported to NMVTIS – even if they are not considered a total loss under relatively weak state laws, which frequently allow hazardous totaled vehicles to go undetected.

The DOJ has approved over a dozen NMVTIS data providers who charge a small amount (usually less than $10) to access NMVTIS’ total loss data. This is less expensive than Carfax or Autocheck. So check here first. If the vehicle shows up in NMVTIS because it was a total loss, play it safe and reject it.

NMVTIS is a very valuable resource, but it has limits. What’s not necessarily included in NMVTIS?
  • Older vehicles, 5 model years or older – they are not required to be reported, although some businesses report older vehicles voluntarily
  • Vehicles that are severely damaged, but not declared a total loss
Plus - sometimes major companies violate federal law and fail to report total loss vehicles to NMVTIS. So even if a vehicle doesn’t show up in NMVTIS, it’s not necessarily a clean bill of health. It’s still really important to take the next steps and get a car that passes the “NMVTIS test” inspected by a trustworthy automotive expert you choose yourself, and also check out the car yourself, in person.
Next: Visual inspection and test drive
Step 4: Look carefully for tell-tale signs of flood damage, including:
  • Silt or other residue in odd places, like under the floor mats, in crevices, in the trunk, and inside the wheel well
  • Rust or signs of corrosion
  • Fogging inside headlamps or taillights
  • Water lines in the passenger cabin, engine compartment, or trunk
  • Musty smell, particularly when you turn on the air conditioning or heat
  • Heavy scents from air fresheners or cleaning solutions
  • Mold or mildew
  • Used cars with brand-new upholstery
  • Stalling, difficulty starting, electrical glitches, or other driveability issues that act up during a test drive
  • Warning lights that illuminate on the dashboard
Other tell-tale signs:
  • Title document stamped with a “brand” that indicates the vehicle was “salvage,” “junk” “rebuildable,” “water/flood” “rebuilt” “water-damaged” or simply “flood”
  • Seller who refuses to show you the vehicle’s title prior to sale, making lame excuses for not letting you look it over carefully before you buy
  • Signs the title was altered. Some crooks use white-out to cover up the “flood” brand or literally punch holes in the title to remove the brand, using a hole punch
  • Vehicles with titles from Florida or other states hit hard by Hurricane Ian
Step 5: IF the car passes all of those tests, then the last step is to get it inspected by a trustworthy automotive technician you choose and pay for yourself. Do NOT rely on the seller to give you an honest inspection report. Many dealers advertise they only sell cars that pass their “150 point” or “172 point” inspection. This is designed to keep you from getting your own inspection done.

But they fail to fix deadly safety recall defects, and may also lie about flood damage. They count on the fact that most of their victims won’t bother to sue, and if they do, they can force them to submit to arbitration – a rigged system paid for by car dealers where victims almost always lose.

Here’s a good resource for finding a trustworthy, qualified automotive technician, based on ratings provided by other car buyers and vehicle owners: Mechanics Files

Usually, it costs about $100 for a thorough inspection. Look for auto techs who have been in business a long time and consistently receive top ratings. Ideally, they should be expert in repairing and inspecting the same brand / make that you are interested in buying. That way, they may also be able to tell you about problems you can expect that are common to that particular vehicle, and how much it would cost to fix them. Ask the technician if they would be willing to work with you and the seller to inspect the car where it’s located, using diagnostic tools that are portable. Unless they have something to hide, the seller should be willing to cooperate with you to get the inspection done.
More tips for avoiding flood car headaches:

Beware of “title washing.”
Crooked car dealers and others who traffic in flood cars sometimes engage in an illegal practice known as “title washing” to make it easier to sell severely damaged vehicles to unsuspecting car buyers. The crooks exploit loopholes in state laws to obtain supposedly “clean” titles, erasing title brands such as “salvage” or “flood.”

NMVTIS makes it more difficult for crooks to get away with laundering car titles across state lines. But it still happens.

Some states have a reputation for being title-washing states. Sleazy car dealers send titles with a “flood” brand to one of those states and within weeks, they obtain clean titles. Presto! Now they can advertise those dangerous cars as having “clean” or “clear” titles, show prospective buyers a “clean” title, and charge top dollar. The cars may never actually leave Florida, but now they have new, “clean” titles from another state.

For example, the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro cracked down on a title washing fraud ring that allegedly involved car dealers and companies in multiple states.
What about vehicle history reports from Carfax or Autocheck?
Sometimes obtaining a vehicle history report from Carfax or Autocheck can tell you more useful information about the vehicle’s history. For example, Carfax may have information about odometer readings, prior repairs, airbag deployments, and safety recalls, and may also show when a vehicle was sold before. In general, the more you find out about a vehicle’s history, the better. But....
Carfax and Autocheck are notorious among auto fraud experts for being unreliable. Both databases tend to have a lot of holes. Many consumers complain they were shown a “clean” Carfax when they bought their car, then found out about a prior wreck or flood damage that didn’t show up until after it was too late.

Plus Carfax and Autocheck slip disclaimers into the fine print, aimed at taking away your rights. Their “buyback guarantees” are extremely difficult to enforce.

Bottom line: Vehicle history reports are definitely NOT a substitute for a personal inspection and an inspection by a trustworthy automotive expert you choose yourself.
What if you already bought a flood car?
If you find out that someone already sold you a flood car, get advice from an experienced auto fraud attorney. Even if it was sold “AS IS,” you may have protection under your state’s consumer protection laws, such as laws against committing fraud, engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices, or violating an implied warranty. The way the vehicle was advertised and what you were led to believe about the vehicle’s condition when you were shopping may be major factors in whether you have a good case. The website for the National Association of Consumer Advocates is a good resource for finding an auto fraud expert in your state.

Greedy Car Dealers Sell Hazardous, Defective Recalled Cars
Some victims have been severely injured or killed
BEWARE: Your family's safety is at risk
Greedy car dealers threaten lives, downplay the risks posed
by deadly safety recalls
Don't be tricked into buying a deathtrap on wheels
When car dealers want to make a killing by selling you a dangerously defective car at top dollar, can you trust them to tell you the truth about how hazardous it is?

Nope. Car dealers know that if you are aware how serious the safety recall defects are, chances are very good you won't buy that car, and that would cut into their profits.

So if a car dealer tells you anything at all about the safety recall defects, they usually try to trick you into thinking they're nothing to worry about. Just something minor. But don't fall for it. In reality, safety recall defects are often deadly. They injure and kill car buyers and their children, other family members, and other victims at an alarming rate.

But that doesn't stop car dealers from seeking to profit from selling the hazardous cars without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.
CarMax: Multi-billion $$ Scamster

CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. It's a multi-billion $$ company that routinely sells vast numbers of hazardous recalled cars and has some of the worst practices in the used car industry.
In a shocking video, CarMax's former CEO / current Board President Tom Folliard minimizes the risks posed by safety recalls, while speaking at a public forum hosted by Florida Tech that included many college students, who are at high risk of being injured or killed in a car crash. In fact, for most of them, a car crash is the most likely cause of death for their age group.

After boasting about his lucrative career at CarMax, Folliard (estimated net worth: "at least $125 million") took questions from the audience. When asked about how CarMax handles safety recalls, his response was stunningly reckless and misleading.

First, he said that because CarMax is not a manufacturer, they can't fix safety recalls.

Is that true? Yes and no. It's true that CarMax isn't a manufacturer. But it's false to say that means that CarMax can't get safety recalls fixed. All CarMax has to do, is hire some more employees to take the recalled cars to nearby dealerships that are authorized by the manufacturer to perform safety recall repairs. And get this: the repairs are free, for at least 15 years from when the recall was issued. So there's really no excuse for CarMax to neglect this vitally important step, especially when they advertise that all their vehicles must pass a rigorous inspection. They're just too cheap to hire enough employees to do the job.

Worst of all, Folliard downplayed the risks posed by safety recall defects, telling the audience:

"Many of them are not really safety issues, they're just open recalls. But because of all the consumer movement around it, they're all considered safety recalls."

Is that true? NO!!!
Let's look at the facts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ALL safety recall defects are serious.
Tragically, unrepaired safety recall defects continue to cause thousands of horrific, debilitating injuries and kill people.

Typical safety recall defects include:
  • catching on fire - some people have burned to death
  • loss of steering, including steering wheels that literally come off in the driver's hands
  • faulty brakes that can cause a crash
  • sticking accelerator pedals that cause cars to speed out of control
  • seat belts that fail to work when they're needed in a crash
  • child safety seat latches that come undone in a crash
  • Takata airbags that explode with excessive force and propel metal shrapnel into drivers' and passengers' face, neck and torso, often causing blindness or bleeding to death
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about the hazards posed by unrepaired auto safety recalls

"Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety. Car manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recalled tens of millions of vehicles in each of the last several years for defects that pose significant safety risks to consumers. In 2015, for example, recalls affected 51 million vehicles nationwide. And defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers."

Source: Statement of the Federal Trade Commission Concerning Auto Recall Advertising Cases (December 15, 2016)
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns: "Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety."
Mike Jackson --- New 10-16-14
Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, talks candidly about safety recalls.   Source: Tramel33166 at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Who else warns about how dangerous safety recalls are? It isn't only government officials and safety experts. It's also industry insiders, such as the CEO of CarMax's #1 competitor, AutoNation, the largest new car dealership chain in the U.S.
Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, told Automotive News:

"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers."
-- AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, quoted in Automotive News, "Used-Car Loophole Tightens up," February 8, 2016.
Mother of three almost killed after dealer sells her an unrepaired
recalled minivan
LaQuata Williams with her three children and one of their playmates.
When LaQuata Williams went shopping for a minivan at a car dealership in Kansas, she explained that she has three children and she needed a vehicle that was safe and reliable. The dealer told her that a 2002 Ford Windstar was just what she was looking for. What he didn't tell her almost cost her and her boyfriend their lives.

Soon after she bought the minivan, she heard a popping noise in the rear. She took it back to the dealer repeatedly for repairs to fix the noise. But the dealer insisted that the Windstar was perfectly safe.

About three months after she bought the minivan, she was driving on the freeway with her boyfriend, going about 65 mph, when the axle broke. Suddenly she lost steering and the Windstar spun out and flipped over, nearly killing LaQuata and her boyfriend. Fortunately, her children weren't in the car, and both LaQuata and her boyfriend were wearing their seat belts. "It's a miracle we weren't severely injured or killed," she said.
A dealer sold this used Ford Windstar to LaQuata Williams without getting the FREE safety recall repairs done, to repair the faulty axle. She and a friend were nearly killed when the axle broke and the van flipped over on the freeway.
This broken axle in a recalled Ford Windstar nearly cost LaQuata Williams and her boyfriend their lives.
The next day, LaQuata learned that Ford Windstars had been recalled due to breaking axles. She obtained the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for her Windstar and contacted Ford.

The manufacturer said that there were two safety recalls pending -- including for the axle breaking. Carfax also noted the pending safety recalls in its report on her Windstar.

Ms. Williams hired Kansas City attorney Bryce Bell to represent her in litigation against the dealership that sold her the hazardous Windstar, and failed to fix get the recall repairs done. They eventually settled the matter. She also testified for passage of legislation in California to help protect others from being victimized by car dealers who neglect to fix recalled cars with potentially deadly safety recall defects.

Chicago SunTimes
"Consumers, Beware:
Used car dealers are selling vehicles despite open recalls"
February 2, 2019
By Stephanie Zimmerman
"On October 2016, Corey Jackson was at a used car lot in South Chicago Heights, signing the papers to buy a 2008 Buick LaCrosse.

He was excited about the leather interior, sunroof and heated seats — but he didn't know that the used car was the subject of a safety recall because of problems with an ignition switch defect already implicated in 124 deaths nationwide.

The used car salesperson didn't mention the recall, Jackson says.

And because the Markham man bought the car used, he never got a notice from the manufacturer, General Motors.

Seven months later, on May 16, 2017, Jackson was driving home from work at WeatherTech, the car floor liner manufacturer, when he tried to pass a car on Bluff Road in Lockport Township. He sped up but quickly abandoned the attempt because another car was coming toward him from the opposite direction on the two-lane road. Suddenly, his car veered off the road and onto the grass, crashing into a tree.

The ignition switch had failed, Jackson's attorneys say, suddenly shutting off the engine and cutting power to the steering wheel, brakes and airbags.

Jackson was knocked unconscious in the crash. He was wearing a seat belt. But, with no inflated airbag, he slammed into the steering wheel. He lost several teeth and broke his jaw. The 37-year-old still walks with a limp from injuries to his hip and a knee and a broken ankle.

Now, Jackson is suing GM and the dealer that sold him the car, FJH Cars Inc. of South Chicago Heights, blaming them for putting him in harm's way with a defective car that was under recall the day he bought it.

"Nothing was said, nothing about a recall," Jackson says. "You feel deceived."
Corey Jackson's crash highlights an issue with the nation's automotive recall system. | Max Herman / Sun-Times.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times. © 2019 Sun-Times Media. All rights reserved. Used under license.
. . . .
Some consumers have fared better in state courts, where they can sue under state laws that more broadly address the sale of defective products.

Corey Jackson, who couldn't work after his accident yet still owed payments on the totaled Buick, says he wishes his recalled car had never been put out for sale.

"It cost me my lifestyle, my job — damn near my life," Jackson says. "Just value the person and not just the sale."

Read More: Chicago Sun-Times: Used car dealers are selling vehicles despite open recalls

"On the Road Again, Despite Dangerous Defects"
"Used cars often sold with dangerous defects"
Checkbook Magazine
By Anthony Giorgianni
"Lisa Shelton of Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., fell in love with the black 2005 Infiniti FX35 on a used-car lot in June 2019. She purchased it for about $7,000, but she had no idea the SUV was one of more than 400,000 vehicles recalled by Nissan in May 2016. The problem: A passenger-side Takata airbag that could eject metal fragments during an accident, injuring her, her family, or others. And she didn't know that the potentially deadly airbag - never replaced by previous owners - remained installed in her car.

The dealer told her the vehicle had been inspected by its repair shop, showing her a clean car history report from the federal government's National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) - which doesn't include open-recall information in its reports.

'I'm sick to my stomach,' said Shelton, who unknowingly put her daughters, husband, and self at risk while driving the car. She even taught her 17-year-old to drive in the Infiniti. 'I was completely blown away. I had no clue that was something I had to worry about.'

A greedy car dealer sold Lisa Shelton and her family an unrepaired recalled Infiniti with the same safety defect that cost Stephanie Erdman the sight in her right eye.
Colin Welsh, Shelton's attorney, said he doesn't know whether the dealer was aware of the outstanding recall, but that it had a responsibility to check before selling it. 'I think it's irresponsible and negligent for any dealer to sell a vehicle with an open recall.'

Think this is an unusual case? It's not.

Between 2010 and 2018, automakers in the U.S. recalled 238 million cars and light trucks due to unsafe defects. Manufacturers issue recalls for dangerous problems: Brakes that can fail, engines that can catch fire, airbags that injure or kill, doors that might fling open unexpectedly.

But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one-fourth of recalled rides go unrepaired. Many end up on used-car lots where they're often resold by dealers that haven't addressed the recalls or informed buyers about them....

In September 2020, Carfax estimated that 57 million vehicles—or one in five—have at least one outstanding recall.

Many of these autos eventually make their way into the used-car market. Carfax estimates that at least one in six used vehicles for sale in the U.S. have one or more unresolved recalls.
Our researchers selected 10 vehicle models manufactured between 2010 and 2019 with previous recalls...We found 227 of the 600 automobiles—nearly 40 percent of them—had at least one problem subject to a recall that hadn't yet been addressed, according to the NHTSA's database.

The most egregious example was a 2011 Hyundai Sonata we found advertised on by a used-car dealer in St. Paul, Minn. It had five unresolved recalls to address problems that could affect the proper operation of the vehicle's airbags, seatbelts, and brake lights; could allow the car to roll away with the transmission in "park"; and cause engine failure while the car is moving.

That hardly seems like a car you'd want to own—or have on the road at all.

Read more: Checkbook Magazine: On the Road Again, Despite Dangerous Defects. Used cars often sold with dangerous defects.

Defective Takata airbag involved in death of man from Lancaster
CarMax, AutoNation, and other auto dealerships routinely sell dangerously defective recalled cars without bothering to get the deadly Takata airbags replaced before foisting them off on used car buyers and their families.

Sometimes, it's not the vehicle owners who are injured or killed, but their passengers, relatives, or friends.
  Rekeyon Barnette was only 35 years old when he was killed by the defective Takata airbag in an unrepaired recalled Honda that was owned by a friend of his. Photo credit: WCNC News
According to news reports, police say 35-year old Rekeyon Barnette died in a car crash on Jan. 9. A defective recalled Takata airbag in the 2002 Honda Accord he was driving deployed in the steering wheel, propelling metal shrapnel that "caused severe trauma to [his] lower face that eventually led to his death."

Honda told reporters that Mr. Barnette was not the registered owner of the car.
  Car dealers fail to value human life enough to get FREE repairs to fix deadly safety recall defects, like the exploding Takata airbag that claimed Rekeyon Barnette's life. Photo credit: WCNC News
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "As of January 2021, approximately 67 million inflators are under recall for nineteen affected vehicle manufacturers, of which approximately 50 million have been repaired or are otherwise accounted for.... [But] Seventeen million inflators have yet to be repaired or otherwise accounted for.

Unrepaired air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injury or even death. Eighteen people in the United States have been killed by defective Takata air bags, and reports suggest that more than 400 have been injured."

Watch news report -- Briana Harper, reporting. WCNC Charlotte, SC: "Lancaster man dies in crash involving recalled Takata airbag"

Father drowns saving 3-year-old daughter from recalled Pontiac G6
Indiana father Anthony Burgess' three-year-old daughter is alive today because of her father's bravery, rescuing her from an icy retention pond after a defective recalled Pontiac G-6 with a faulty transmission slid into the icy waters, with her inside. But tragically, after handing his daughter to a bystander who grabbed her, he slipped below the water and drowned.
24-year-old Anthony Burgess drowned saving his 3-year-old daughter Amina, after an unrepaired recalled Pontiac G6 rolled into an icy pond, with Amina inside.   Source: CBS This Morning.
The Pontiac was one of more than 1.1 million vehicles General Motors recalled in 2014 because of a defect in the transmission that could cause them to roll away, even if the gear was set in "park."

Her mother was unaware the Pontiac had an unrepaired safety recall. The recall was issued several years before she bought the car, and she didn't receive any notice.

GM told news reporters that owners of older vehicles are less likely to respond to safety recalls.

People who buy used vehicles or who move frequently often do not receive notice about safety recalls because manufacturers rely on vehicle registrations for addresses, and those records are often incomplete or out of date.

There's also a huge safety gap between newer vehicles and used cars that have changed ownership. The main causes of this dangerous gap? Car dealers fail to repair recalled used cars, selling them without getting the free repairs done first. Plus subsequent vehicle owners may never get the safety recall notices.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, as reported in the IndyStar, "Recalls are completed on about 83 percent of newer vehicles. That drops to 44 percent for vehicles five to 10 years old and 29 percent for cars more than 10 years old."

Watch news report: CBS This Morning: Father drowns saving daughter from recalled Pontiac G6

Do you live where wildfires pose a threat?
Beware of CarMax and their firebomb cars and trucks
Since 2015, auto manufacturers have recalled more than 26.5 million vehicles due to defects that can cause them to burst into flames. Some manufacturers recommend that the owners park the cars outside, where they may be less likely to burn down homes. But beware: if you buy an unrepaired, recalled firebomb car from a car dealer like CarMax, and it catches on fire and burns down your home, or destroys a whole town, they will try to pin the blame on you. This is a lesson that Californian Anthony Santos found out the hard way, after a Ford F-150 pickup he purchased from CarMax caught on fire in his driveway and caused over $200,000 in damage to the pickup, his garage, and his home. Fortunately, he and his children were able to escape the flames.
CarMax blamed the owner for buying this ticking time-bomb pickup truck that CarMax failed to get repaired.
Image source: NBC 4, L.A.
Before he bought the pickup from CarMax, Ford had issued a safety recall because the truck had a dangerous defect that made it prone to catching on fire without any warning. CarMax failed to get the FREE safety recall repair done before selling the pickup to Mr. Santos. Despite neglecting to get the repairs done, CarMax advertised that the pickup had passed CarMax's "125 point inspection." This of course would lead car buyers to believe that it must at least be safe, and free from known, hazardous safety recall defects.
  Mr. Santos found out the hard way that CarMax fails to get safety recall repairs done before selling its so-called "certified" "inspected" vehicles for top dollar. Image source: NBC 4, L.A.
After the truck caught on fire, CarMax tried to pin the blame on Mr. Santos for not finding out about the recall, taking his truck to a Ford dealership, and getting the safety recall repair done himself. Mr. Santos sued CarMax, and eventually they won, on a technicality.

Bottom line: Buying cars from CarMax is risky, especially if you live where there's a serious risk of wildfires.

Learn more: NBC Bay Area: Risks of Buying a Used Car and What the Dealership Isn't Telling You

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Our Mission
The CARS Foundation is a non-profit,
tax-exempt organization founded in 1979
that prevents motor vehicle-related fatalities,
injuries, and economic losses through
education, outreach, aid to victims,
and related activities.


Avoid Deadly Safety Defects
ALWAYS check for safety recalls before you buy.

Regularly updated safety recall data is free,
at the website for the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If the recall repair hasn't been done,
don't buy that car!!
CarMax advertises its vehicles passed
a 125-point inspection.

But FAILS to fix deadly safety recall defects.

Help save precious lives.

Spread the word:

Take Action
Over 117,000 people have signed
CARS' petition on
calling on CarMax to stop
selling hazardous recalled cars
with deadly safety defects.
But they keep endangering precious
lives. This has to stop!

Sign CARS' petition:
Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe,
recalled cars to consumers!

CarMax sells cars with
deadly safety recall defects.
ABC's 20/20 went undercover and caught
CarMax up to their sneaky tricks.
More than 730,000 viewers have watched this video clip on CARS' YouTube channel
Help save lives -- share the link!

Shopping for a safe, reliable used car?
Buying used cars from car dealers is extremely risky. A bad car deal can ruin your life, or even kill you and your family. So why even go there?

Here are 12 easy tips from pro-consumer experts for how to avoid a lot of hassles, save a ton of money, and get a safe, reliable used car. All without having to give your hard-earned cash to a greedy car dealer.

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car?
We want to hear your story.
Contact The CARS Foundation

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