RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Millions of cars around the country need urgent repairs — some so serious that the feds have classified them as “do not drive” or “park outside” alerts.
These types of recalls are issued because there’s a problem serious enough that it could cause an accident or severe physical harm if left uncorrected. “Park outside” recalls in particular are issued when there is a fire risk with the vehicle, which could spread to a home or other structures if parked in a garage.
CARFAX estimates 2.5 million cars nationwide have these serious unresolved recall repairs, despite federal authorities and car manufacturers trying to get the word out.
“There are many different factors involved,” Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief at CARFAX, explained. “I do think consumer apathy. I also think recall fatigue is a real thing.”
For example, many Takata airbag recalls are listed as “do not drive,” but those recalls have been going on since 2014. A shortage when it comes to parts, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, made those recall repairs drag on and on.
Another factor is when older vehicles change hands a few times.
“Just last week, BMW issued a new one for 90,000 models going back to the 2004 model year,’’ said Olsen. “These are 19-year-old vehicles. So we may be in their second, third, fourth, fifth owner at this point.”
According to CARFAX’s analysis, 10 states have more than 70,000 vehicles with “do not drive” or “park outside” notices still on the roads. The states with the most are:
- California: 245,000
- Texas: 242,000
- Florida: 237,000
- New York: 118,000
- Pennsylvania: 106,000
- Ohio: 101,000
- Georgia: 96,000
- Illinois: 92,000
- North Carolina: 85,000
- Arizona: 71,000
Federal law doesn’t prevent used cars from being resold with outstanding recalls on them, so it’s up to you to figure out if your recently purchased car has an open recall. Olsen said CARFAX has online tools available to alert you to recalls.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has an online tool where you can type in your vehicle’s VIN, and it will tell you if any parts are affected by a recall.
Federal law says all recall repairs must be done free of charge and in a timely manner.
“If any consumer goes to a dealership who for whatever reason, says they can’t do it, they should immediately go to the next nearest dealership,” said Olsen. “If they get trouble with the turnaround, talk to the corporate office.”
If that doesn’t work — escalate it. File a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration including as many specifics about the dealership as possible.