RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A recalled vehicle is a problem that could impact you or someone you know. If you ignore the notice, the consequences could be fatal. But a bigger problem, many people may not know their car is under a recall. The good news, there are two free website that can help you determine if you're driving a vehicle with an open recall.
"Because of the commonality of recalls, they unfortunately do get dismissed or people don't have the time. There are a lot of reasons open recalls aren't being fixed," said Chris Basso with CARFAX.
Recalls are ordered by the manufacturer, or the federal government. In its most recent study, CARFAX says Virginia is second only to California when it comes to cars for sale with open recalls. Texas is number three on the list. Each of the states has at least 100,000 recalled cars for sale.
CARFAX estimates the number of cars "not" for sale is even higher.
"The issues range from a part malfunctioning to something catching on fire and possibly somebody dying, it has happened before," Basso said.
We checked and it didn't take long, to find vehicles in the area for sale that had open recalls. Using the VIN number provided on Autotrader.com, we found a Ford Explorer being sold in the Richmond area with an open recall. We simply typed in the VIN number into a CARFAX database and found two open recalls. There was one for the lift gate glass. The other one was for the Speed Control System. If you're thinking well, why not go after the dealership. Basso says there is one big problem.
"There is no law that exists that says open recalls need to be disclosed by any seller. The good news is there are lots of sellers, including dealerships that are checking for open recalls in advance and making sure the recalls are fixed before they hit the lot," Basso said.
"If we were trying to find the history on a car, we would scan the VIN number," said Doug Hill, owner of The Car Guys.
He says they check all cars for recalls before they make a sale. They use a nifty phone application to check each vehicle.
"It is unbelievable, its an incredible tool and we use it everyday and probably scan 300,000 vehicles a week," Hill added.
So far, they have had good results. "We recently bought a 2008 Saturn View that had a recall on a Hybrid Battery. It was about a $2,000 discovery," Hill said.
There are two great websites to help you. The first is recall.car fax.com. Using your car's VIN number you can find out if there's an open recall. The second website is safercar.gov. On this website you don't use your VIN number, all you do is type in your model, make and year to find if recalls were issued.
It's important to remember, if your car has an open call, the manufacturers will fix it for free. Just make sure you take it to the manufacturer's dealership. Otherwise it could void the recall, leaving you to pay. Checking for a recall is a simple task that could save you money and possibly your life.
"It is the same thing as changing oil. If you don't change the oil, you may get away with it but is going to catch up with you sooner or later," said Gary Shortridge with The Car Guys.
If you have questions about safercar.gov you can call the hotline at 1-888-327-4236. To check out your car, visit the links below.