Advice For Drivers Affected By Car Accidents After A Recall


Drivers involved in a car accident after a recall, may not even be aware that their car has an open recall.

Vehicle recalls are nothing new. In 2013, there were 22 million vehicles recalled. Consider that GM has issued another recall a few years ago. Though many vehicle owners follow the instructions on the recall notice and take care of the problem with the vehicle, some owners ignore the recall notice, never get the issue resolved, and trade in the vehicle or sell it to an individual buyer.

Some of these recalled cars are finding their way to Craigslist and consumers are none the wiser. Posing a real risk for drivers involved in a car accident after a recall. How can they know that their vehicle was recalled? What do they do now?

Carfax conducted a study specific to used cars for sale online and found 2.1 million cars with open recalls for sale. Topping the list of states with recalled vehicles for sale are, California, Florida, and Texas, where these defective and potentially dangerous vehicles are on the market for resale. Even more alarming is that some of these vehicles are on dealer lots.

car mechanic repairs breakes from vehicle in a workshop


Should You Buy A Car With An Open Recall

Many drivers ask if a car dealer can sell a car with an open recall. Yes.

Dealers are not mandated to check for the existence of a recall notice. Further, they don’t have to notify potential buyers of the needed repairs. Representing 20,000 nationwide dealers, The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s stance is that it, “Encourages used vehicle dealers to repair the open-recall before selling the vehicle to a customer and at a minimum disclose it.” 

A separate organization representing another 16,000 dealers thinks that the onus should be on used car buyers to get the repairs taken care of. Remember, car recalls occur because an inherent hazard has been identified and drivers are in potential danger if the repairs are not handled. If you are involved in a car accident after a recall, it may complicate things and cause serious physical and mental distress.

So, what can buyers do to protect themselves?


How To Look Up Recalls For Your Car

There are two steps to find out if your call has an open recall.

  1. Find Your VIN – VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, which contains 17 digits and letters that is completely unique to your car. It is like a fingerprint that only matches your car. You can find your VIN on the driver’s side of the car. Open the car door and look on the inside of the door hinge on the front side. You can also find your VIN on your insurance card and vehicle registration.
  2. Check The NHTSA Database – Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall page, and enter your VIN. If nothing is returned, then you do not have an open recall on your car and you can relax! However, if you do have an open recall, you have to contact the manufacturer of your car immediately. Search for a dealer in your area right away.

Advice For An Accident Case Involving A Car Under Recall

If you or someone you know was involved in a car accident after a recall, you should speak to a car accident attorney in West Palm Beach or a car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale immediately.

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Four Steps to Making the Best Possible Used-Car Purchase

  1. Ask Yourself Several Questions – What is my budget? What type of car do I want and can I afford the maintenance on that vehicle? Do I want to purchase from a dealer or a private seller? Answering these questions upfront will lead you to the right vehicle for you.
  2. Don’t Limit Yourself – Take the time to shop around. Visit multiple dealers – or private sellers if that is the route you have chosen.
  3. Check the Vehicle Thoroughly – Look under the hood. Check for signs of water damage. Check the tires. If you aren’t savvy when it comes to vehicle inspection, bring someone with you who knows about cars. Or, ask a mechanic to accompany you. While test-driving listen to the car, check the handling, and be certain to check for any dashboard lights.
  4. Research the Vehicle – There are several companies that provide vehicle history and recall information including Carfax,,, and

Outside of saving you money in the long-run, taking these steps will lessen your chances of purchasing a vehicle that has unaddressed recall issues. Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety put it best when she said, “There’s only one reason the car is under safety recall and that’s because it’s unsafe.” Do your homework and protect yourself. You could be saving your life or the life of a loved one by taking extra precautions when purchasing a used vehicle.


About The Author

Michael Steinger

Michael Steinger

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.