July 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm

New York City bars sales of unrepaired recalled used cars

New York City officials said Wednesday it will require its 800 used-car dealers to repair recalled vehicles before they are sold — and dealers must fix vehicles they sold but did not repair.

The new requirement is believed to be the first by any major U.S. city. It comes as Congress and California have been debating requiring used car dealers to fix cars. Federal law only applies to new-car dealers, though some automakers including General Motors Co. require dealers to repair used vehicles before selling them.

New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin said the new rules were spurred by an investigation in which the agency sent subpoenas to 200 city car dealers, “forcing them to provide their policies on selling unrepaired recalled cars, to reveal how many such vehicles they have sold in the past year, and whether the consumer was notified at the time of sale.”

The agency is requiring that dealers notify the buyers of unrepaired cars and make repairs at the dealer’s expense.

New York is using a city ordinance that requires dealers to certify that their vehicles are “roadworthy,” and prohibits dealers from misleading consumers as to the safety of their vehicles to create the ban on sale of unrepaired recalled vehicles.

“More cars have been recalled in 2014 than any other year on record,” said Menin said. “We’re not going to wait for tragic statistics to demand that dealers repair these ticking time bombs.”

Automakers have recalled more than 40 million vehicles in the first seven months of the year, breaking the all-time record for vehicles recalled set in 2004 with 30.8 million vehicles called back.

In April, the Obama administration proposed banning the sale of used recalled cars by dealers, unless the recalls were completed first. The National Automobile Dealers Association, criticized the proposal to force dealers to fix used cars: “The proposed recall language is overly broad, as it would ground every vehicle under open recall even if the issue does not actually impact passenger safety, such as an owner’s manual misprint,” the group said.

A separate bill is pending to require recalled rental cars to be repaired before being rented to customers.

“This is going to make New York’s roads safer,” said John W. Van Alst, director of the Working Cars for Working Families Project.