Center for Auto Safety Statement: House of Representatives Acts to Stop Government Sale of Recalled Cars

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The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

For Immediate Release
July 31, 2020
Contact: Jason Levine, [email protected] or 202-328-7700

House of Representatives Acts to Stop Government Sale of Recalled Cars

The Center for Auto Safety Applauds Enforcing Requirement for 
General Services Administration to Ensure Vehicles are Safe Prior to Sale to Public

For years, the General Services Administration (GSA) has been knowingly selling dangerous recalled vehicles to the public. For almost as long, the Center for Auto Safety has been calling for an end to this hazardous practice. Today, as part of the passage of H.R. 7617, the House of Representatives included a provision which stops GSA from continuing to fail to ensure the vehicles the agency sells to the public are in safe operating condition. In other words, it is taking an act of Congress to stop the sale of used government vehicles with deadly safety defects at auction, putting all road users at risk.

The provision, which was sponsored by Representatives Krishnamoorthi and Schakowsky, and supported through the appropriations process by Representative Quigley, expressly stops the current GSA practice of failing to follow manufacturer safety and preventative maintenance notices, such as recall remedies before sale. By requiring the federal government to adhere to its own existing requirements, these Representatives prioritized consumer safety while the Executive Branch continue to prioritize profits.   

The GSA sells over 30,000 vehicles every year. Based on analysis of information made public by GSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and industry trends, the Center for Auto Safety believes as many as 20% of those vehicles are subject to unrepaired recalls at the time of sale. This means as many as 6,000 defective vehicles are likely being sold to the public annually.

The NHTSA, which oversees vehicle recalls, takes the position that all recalls are serious and should be repaired as quickly as possible. Importantly, there are no “cosmetic” recalls. Safety recalls are only undertaken by vehicle manufacturers because the vehicle has a safety defect which can impair the safe operation of the vehicle or it does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. The agency’s Acting Administrator has said as recently as January:“If your vehicle is under recall, you should contact your dealer for a free repair. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.”

Vehicles with open recalls kill and injure, as well as cause car crashes. Whether it is an exploding Takata airbag, a malfunctioning fuel pump, or a vehicle prone to a non-collision fire, these are serious defects which should not be knowingly put into the stream of commerce by the federal government.  

The Center for Auto Safety looks forward to the Senate quickly taking up this measure in order to protect consumers, followed by GSA making permanent changes to its procedures in the interest of public safety.


The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 and has always been based in Washington, DC. We are a member supported, independent, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy for all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Over the last 50 years, the Center has successfully led the fight for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, and recall repairs being made at no cost to the consumer. The Center publishes, which has for the last 40 years been America’s most comprehensive car buying guide and now offers, exclusively for members, the monthly Safety TuneUp Report for regular alerts on safety issues relating to their cars. To learn more about the Center, please visit