Millions of vehicles have open recalls

Posted at 10:16 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 12:28:39-05

If you get a recall notice in the mail, the bold red letters clearly let you know the manufacturer found a problem.

“They're driving potentially ticking time bombs,” explained Chris Basso with Carfax.

People realize it's something to get fixed, but often they don't.

Take Kristin Madsen for example. The I-Team found her 2006 Ford Mustang sitting in an Oak Creek parking lot with a nearly year old recall.

Ford recalled faulty airbags that could deploy while driving. Madsen acknowledged getting a letter in the mail.

“Yes I received that,” Madsen said.

She went on to say she planned on getting it fixed.

“But I'm busy working all the time it's hard to get to," she said.

It turns out Madsen is not alone.

“Our data suggests one out of every six vehicles does have a recall for a safety issue,” Basso said. 

Across the country, 47 million cars on the road have 1 open safety recall. In Wisconsin, there are
800,000 recalled cars on the road. 300,000 of those unfixed recalls are in southeast Wisconsin alone, according to Carfax.

There are apps to help you find out if there's an open recall. "Vin Viper" and "Vinny" allow you to enter the vehicle identification number. With the Carfax app, you can enter the VIN or plate number.

The I-Team checked license plates at a shopping center. We quickly found cars with recalls.

So we wanted to know what would happen when you rent a car. We checked the license plates at multiple rental companies at Mitchell Airport. We then stop by another rental store. We found three recalled Volkswagens -- -we went inside to see if they would rent the recalled cars to us. 

When asked by our producer if the Volkswagens were available a worker said, “They're all on recall right now.” 

So our next stop was at used car lots. We found a 2012 Chevy Malibu with a faulty seat belt that could snap during a crash. 

We also found a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am with an ignition recall on another car lot. Under Wisconsin law, used dealerships do not have tell buyers about recalls. But a franchised dealer, if selling a used franchised car, is required to fix the recall.  But luckily our salesman spoke up.

“I believe there is one open recall if I'm not mistaken," he said.

A second salesman said, “If there's any recall what we would do is disclose it. This car has a GM ignition recall so at that point you take it to the GM dealer.”

But even when you've taken the steps to get your recall fixed, the fact is with nearly 1 million recalled vehicles on Wisconsin roads, everyone is affected when people don't fix the problem.

“If that recall part fails while the car is being driven then anybody on the road is in danger as well,” Basso said.

Most recalls are free to fix at your dealership. But it can take some time for parts to become available. This week Honda recalled more 1.7 million cars. Those parts won’t be in until the summer of 2016

So people are encouraged to remember to call and keep calling to get their car fixed.

Trans 139.04(9) (9) MANUFACTURER RECALLS. Before delivering to a retail purchaser any used vehicle of a line make for which the dealer holds a franchise, the dealer shall do all of the following that are applicable:?

Trans 139.04(9)(a) (a) Determine from the vehicle's manufacturer whether or not the vehicle is the subject of any unperformed manufacturer recalls.

Trans 139.04(9)(b) (b) If the vehicle is the subject of any unperformed manufacturer recalls for which the manufacturer will reimburse the dealer for performing, perform all such recalls or agree in writing to perform such recalls at a time convenient to the customer not later than 20 days after delivery, unless the unavailability of parts or other circumstances beyond the control of the dealer prevents performance within that time.

Trans 139.04(9)(c) (c) Disclose in writing to the purchaser any unperformed manufacturer recalls with regard to the vehicle that have been disclosed to the dealer upon inquiry of the manufacturer.