Senate Bill Would Require Recall Repairs on Used Cars

Proposed Law Follows NBC Bay Area Report on Used Cars Sold With Open Recalls

What to Know

  • U.S. Senators Blumenthal (D-CT) and Markey (D-MA) introduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act on Tuesday
  • The bill would require car dealers to fix all open safety recalls on used vehicles before making them available for sale or lease
  • An auto dealers lobby cautions the measure would sharply reduce trade-in values and increase used car prices

Two U.S. senators are pushing for a law that would require car dealers to fix any open safety recalls on used cars before selling or leasing them.

The proposed measure comes after a recent NBC Bay Area report on recalled used car sales and safety concerns raised by drivers and consumer advocates.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, introduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act on Tuesday. The bill would prohibit selling a used car that has a safety recall that has not yet been repaired. Federal law already bans the sale of new cars with open recalls.

"The safety of our roads will continue to be in jeopardy, as long as we resell cars that are under recall," Blumenthal said Tuesday in a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing. "These are safety defects, as you all know, being driven on the roads. They endanger not only the drivers and the passengers in those cars, but others who are on the road with them."

California auto safety advocate Rosemary Shahan told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday the bill is an important step forward to protect motorists.

"Passage of this important auto safety legislation will close a gaping safety loophole in federal law," Shahan said. "Meanwhile, consumers victimized by dealers who play 'recalled car roulette' should fight back, using existing state consumer protection laws against such dangerous practices."

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) says the measure is too broad. Jared Allen, vice president of communications for NADA, told NBC Bay Area the bill would actually harm both used car buyers and car owners who want to trade their used vehicles with a dealer.

“This trade-in tax would hit consumers directly, preventing many consumers from being able to afford a newer, safer vehicle," Allen said. "It would also lead to fewer used vehicles receiving the repairs they need since many consumers would instead turn to the unregulated private market, where recall completion rates plummet, to sell their vehicles. That’s not the way to improve safety. In fact, dealers are opposed to overly broad recall provisions specifically because they would be counterproductive to our shared goal of a 100-percent recall completion rate.”

Blumenthal introduced similar bills in 2015 and 2017. Both died before making it to the Senate floor.

You can check for safety recalls on any vehicle by searching the VIN with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database at

Contact Us