DEFECTIVE CRASH BAGS: US senator Bill Nelson displays a defective air bag made by Takata. The bags are just some of the safety issues affecting vehicles sold in 2014. Image: AP / J. Scott Applewhite
DETROIT, Michigan - About five-million used cars affected by safety recalls were sold through 2014 in the US without the recall fault(s) having been fixed.
A study by Carfax, which sells vehicle history reports, showed that overall there are more than 46-million cars and trucks on US roads with unrepaired safety issues despite recalls.
Some of the recalls involve serious safety problems such as leaky brake lines or crash bags that can inflate with too much force and send shrapnel into drivers or passengers. Others are relatively minor, such as brake master cylinder caps with pictures rather than words.
No matter the problem, if you're shopping for a used car, you should make sure a recalled part has been repaired.
FIND OUT IF THERE'S A RECALL: Obtain the 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) from the seller or copy it from the side of the facia. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's VIN look-up site allows users to key in the number and will inform the owner if there are any open recalls. Similar services are offered by Carvalue.co.za and TransUnion.
GET A VEHICLE HISTORY REPORT: You can pay a third party such as Carfax or Transunion.co.za for a vehicle history check. It will show the vehicle's ownership history, such as if it's been in a crash, and if there are open recalls. Some website can charge a fee for each vehicle searched - Thecarmarket.co.za, Carvalue.co.za or Transunion.co.za.
ASK THE DEALER: Many dealers will check used cars for open recalls. Ask them to do it while you're watching. Many have policies of repairing recalls before selling cars and others will give you a vehicle history report at no charge.
CONSIDER A CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED VEHICLE: Manufacturer-certified pre-owned cars often cost more but all major automakers state they "check for recalls and fix the cars" before selling them.