PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you buy a used car, you probably want to know what it has been through.

You might kick the tires and check the brakes, but there is a potential danger you may not even think about — recalls.

Last year, there were more than two million used cars for sale with open safety recalls.

That means they had a safety issue, but were never fixed.

KDKA-TV’s Susan Koeppen recently discovered that it wasn’t hard to find recalled cars for sale right here in Pittsburgh.

Her search for recalled cars brought her to a small car dealership on Saw Mill Run Boulevard.

A KDKA-TV photographer asked about a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder. It was advertised for $6,595 with ABS brakes, alarm system, bucket seats and a Carfax record check.

However, nowhere was it mentioned that the car has been recalled and never fixed for a problem that can cause “loss of steering control” and “result in a crash.”

On the same lot, they also found a 2003 Honda Odyssey. It has been recalled for a problem that can cause the car to “roll away, increasing the risk of a crash”

So, Koeppen asked the dealership if they knew they were selling recalled cars.

Koeppen: You didn’t know these were part of an open recall and that there was a problem that needed to be fixed?

Employee: No, not really.

Currently, there is no federal law requiring used car dealers to identify and fix open recalls on a vehicle before selling it.

“We are talking about vehicles that have open safety recalls that can cause death and injury crashes,” car safety expert Sean Kane said.

Kane said he’s not surprised that millions of used cars with open safety recalls are up for sale.

“This is clearly something that is off the radar for most consumers,” Kane said.

During her investigation, Koeppen found recalled cars at several dealerships in the Pittsburgh area.

An Acura CL for sale in Wexford was recalled for an “airbag” problem that can send “metal fragments” flying causing “injury or fatality.”

A Ford F-150 pickup for sale in Canonsburg was recalled for an airbag problem. The “airbag can inadvertently deploy” causing “injury or loss of vehicle control.

An Acura TL for sale in the South Hills was recalled for a problem with the “ignition.” The car can “roll and crash.”

In a statement to KDKA, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association said dealers “Do not have any more access to open recall data than consumers” and finding open recalls should be “a shared responsibility” between dealers and customers.

To investigate an open recall, you need the vehicle identification number. Then, you can turn to a source like Carfax and do a recall search.

You can also call the manufacturer directly with the VIN and ask about a recall.

There’s even a new app called Snafu Scan. It scans the car’s VIN and tells you if the car is part of any recalls.

Experts said consumers need to be asking about recalls on any used cars they’re thinking of buying.


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