AutoNation says a report issued by a consumer group about recalled used cars at the nation’s largest vehicle retailer is “inaccurate” and does not provide the full set of facts as to how such vehicles are handled at its stores.
The United States Public Interest Research Group, a consumer group also known as U.S. PIRG, alleges the dealer group is “selling recalled, used vehicles that contain dangerous safety effects.”
Auto Remarketing became aware of the report Tuesday after a segment on “CBS This Morning.”
In the report, which was put together by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Frontier Group and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation, U.S. PIRG said it surveyed 2,400 used cars at AutoNation dealerships in 16 markets. The group said one in nine cars in this survey had unrepaired safety recalls.
“Of the vehicles surveyed, 47 (16% of recalled vehicles) had an unrepaired safety recall for which a remedy wasn’t available at the time of the analysis. Consumers who purchase such a vehicle may have to wait for months or longer before their unsafe, recalled vehicle can be repaired,” U.S. PIRG said in the report.
It added: “All states prohibit licensed dealers, including those that sell used vehicles, from engaging in practices such as bait and switch, false advertising, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, fraud, violating express or implied warranties and the common law duty of care, negligence or causing wrongful death. AutoNation’s failure to repair recalled cars, despite promising that it is selling vehicles that are of high quality, may violate these provisions.”
However, the vehicle retailer said in a statement provided to Auto Remarketing that the company “is in full compliance with all laws and regulations regarding recalls and with all recall directives provided by the vehicle manufacturers,” and that the U.S. PIRG report does not provide context into the sales process at its stores.
In a statement, AutoNation said the report “does not accurately depict the buying process at AutoNation dealerships. The groups responsible for the report did not attempt to thoroughly review the purchasing process at any of AutoNation’s 200+ locations across the country. Nor did they reach out to AutoNation to obtain information about our policies and procedures surrounding recalls.
“Had they done so, they would be aware of AutoNation’s robust policies and procedures that are designed to provide a transparent buying process for our customers,” the statement said. “No new vehicle is sold with an open recall. No CPO vehicle is sold with an open recall unless permitted by the OEM.
“If the OEM issues a ‘stop sale’ for certain vehicles AutoNation will not retail those vehicles at same brand stores prior to completion of the recall,” the company said.
Additionally, all used-car buyers at AutoNation stores have to sign a recall disclosure acknowledgment before they buy the car.
“By signing the form, buyers acknowledge that prior to signing the vehicle contract the dealer provided documentation of any open recalls, and where possible the dealer gave buyers the opportunity to schedule or complete recall repairs prior to the purchase,” AutoNation said.
The dealer group also said all of its websites provide means by which consumers can check for open recalls on used cars.
“The suggestion, therefore, that AutoNation is knowingly or deliberately seeking to mislead consumers is entirely unfounded,” the company said. “AutoNation continues to have an industry-leading policy in place. We address every recall.
“If the parts are on hand, we repair the vehicle. If there are no parts available for the foreseeable future, contingent on manufacturer instructions we either hold the vehicle or sell it with full disclosure,” it added.
The U.S. PIRG report also lists recommendations for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.
AutoNation said, however, these auto retail industry policy recommendations go against directives of U.S vehicle safety regulators.
“The report issued by US PIRG recommends automotive retail industry policies that contradict the laws, regulations and guidance implemented by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agencies charged with overseeing vehicle safety and the recall process,” the retailer said.
In September 2015, AutoNation made a major procedure change, announcing a policy not to sell, lease or wholesale any new or used vehicle that has an open safety recall.
Automotive News reported in December 2016 that AutoNation had ended this policy the previous month.