New TN Law Harms Car Buyers, Motorists

A recent story in Automotive News details a new Tennessee law related to selling used cars. The law was passed late in the 2017 legislative session as a bill related to bicycles and rickshaws was amended to explicitly allow used car dealers to sell cars they know are under an active safety recall.

Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) says of the new law:

“They are trying to legalize fraud,” Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, told Automotive News. “It’s written to protect unscrupulous car dealers.”

The Automotive News story cites car dealer lobbyist Bob Weaver on the issue:

The impetus for the law was a fatal accident, but the final language represents a compromise among automakers, dealers, auction houses and others, said Bob Weaver, president of the Tennessee Automotive Association, a dealer advocacy group.

“The bottom line is that transparency is always the best policy so consumers can make the best decision,” he said.

What Weaver did not say is that the family of the young woman involved in that fatal accident opposed his so-called “disclosure” law. Jay and Gerri Gass spent two legislative sessions advocating for Lara’s Law  — a measure that would have strengthened consumer protections by prohibiting the sale of any used car currently under an active safety recall. Thanks to thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, Weaver was able to get the Senate Transportation Committee to kill the consumer protection bill. Then, he swooped in and amended a bill about bicycles in order to get legislation passed that, as of January 1, allows Tennessee used car dealers to sell unsafe cars they know are under safety recalls. That’s certainly not very transparent.

“Fixing unsafe cars before you sell them is truly the best policy,” said Andy Spears, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action. “Weaver’s tactics are typical practice on Capitol Hill, where those who can afford high-priced lobbyists win, in this case at the expense of consumers seeking to buy used cars. What’s worse, that unsafe used car someone just bought may cause harm to other motorists if the safety issue that caused the recall results in a crash.”

Before buying a used car, consumers should always ask if there is an active safety recall. Additionally, consumers can check to determine the recall status of a car they wish to purchase. Finally, consumers should refuse to sign any recall disclosure form presented to them in the course of a used car purchase.

“Frankly, consumers should simply refuse to do business with a car dealer willing to sell a car they know is unsafe. If you are presented with one of these recall disclosure forms, don’t sign it and just walk away from the deal,” Spears said.


For more on our consumer protection work, follow @TNCitizenAction



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