Fixing the U.S. recall loophole is a job for ‘someone else’

AutoNation just kicked the can.

Last year, the largest U.S. auto dealership group staked out a bold and admirable position on recalls, pledging to go beyond federal law and not sell new or used vehicles with pending recalls. It did quite a bit of moralizing on the issue, too. CEO Mike Jackson said then that any sale of an unrepaired vehicle “is not a responsible solution. You’re just kicking the can to somebody else.”

Turns out, AutoNation couldn’t live up to its promise. Rather than wait months for replacement parts, it is auctioning some vehicles with pending recalls. AutoNation may place big warning stickers on the cars to be auctioned, but there’s nothing stopping an unscrupulous auctioneer or used-car dealer with a working window scraper from unleashing that vehicle on an unsuspecting consumer.

“When there are no parts in sight, let someone else manage that vehicle to its completion as far as the recall,” Jackson says now, striking a very different tone from last year. Almost the opposite, in fact.

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