If you buy a new car, your purchase is protected by warranties and state law. You can hold manufacturers accountable for dangerous defective parts, and the business that sold you the car might even try to save face and make things right.
But what happens when you buy a used car? If that car contains defects, you might be on your own, according to Will Wallace, senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports. In a Consumer Reports article, Wallace is quoted in reference to the undue burden buyers of used cars face in comparison to those who buy a new vehicle.
Shockingly, neither dealers nor private party sellers are obligated by law to fix defects on used cars. Not only that – they don’t even have to tell you about a vehicle’s defect.
Wallace and countless other safety advocates think that should change, and it’s hard to find any reasonable argument against their stance. It’s hard to believe that these changes even need to be made. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that all used car buyers should be aware of. And if a defective vehicle causes someone serious harm, then the injured person should consider a legal claim to get the compensation they deserve.
How Great is the Risk of Buying a Defective Vehicle?
About one quarter of all recalled vehicles currently on our roads have not been repaired. Any of these vehicles can be resold to a buyer without any notification of the defect. That means there’s always a risk that the used car you’re buying has been recalled and remains defective.
Obviously, we need laws to address this problem, and hopefully safety advocates will be able to pressure lawmakers to take the issue seriously. Until that day, the burden is on consumers to make sure they aren’t being sold a bum vehicle.
Do Your Homework When Buying a Used Vehicle
Before purchasing any vehicle, see whether it has been recalled. Consumer Reports lays out the process quite well if you want to reference their article, but the process is relatively simple. Identify the vehicle’s VIN and go to safecar.gov to enter the number. If the vehicle has been recalled, it should be repaired at no cost.
Not all dealers neglect to tell consumers about recalls. Sellers can have a vehicle repaired at no cost. Many do, and they are upfront about a vehicle’s history. But not all sellers are created equally, and anytime you buy a vehicle from a private seller, you should be extra cautious about defects. Request to have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before purchase. If the seller refuses, heed the red flags that pop up in your mind.
“Buyer beware” should be a thing of the past, but clearly more work should be done to protect consumers. If you’ve had the misfortune of being involved in a vehicle accident because of a defective vehicle or vehicle part, you should know that you have legal options available.
If a Defective Vehicle or Vehicle Part Causes an Injury, You Can Take Legal Action
When a car accident is caused by a defective vehicle part, the injured party has the right to file a personal injury or product liability claim to get the compensation they deserve. If your vehicle’s defect led to an injury, a product liability claim can be filed against the manufacturer. If another driver caused your injuries, you should contact an attorney to learn more about your options.
The South Carolina product liability attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm has several decades of experience getting clients justice. To explore your legal options, contact Bert Louthian to schedule a free consultation of your case. We’ll hold negligent manufacturers and bad drivers accountable for the harm they have caused. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to get started.
Bert Louthian has been practicing law in Columbia with his father, Herb, since 1985. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina, Bert launched his legal career in his father’s firm. With 80 years of legal experience between them, Louthian Law, P.A. remains Family-Owned and Family-Focused.
Bert understands that when life goes wrong – when you or someone you love gets hurt or suffers a loss, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. He gets up and goes to work every day to prove that feeling wrong – and does everything in his power to make things right again.