David Clayton was driving 70 miles an hour in his Ram 1500 pickup truck last October when he learned the hard way that it had a serious safety problem. The rear axle locked up, causing him to nearly lose control before wrestling the truck to the side of the highway.
Chrysler knew about the axle defect, and had ordered a recall of the pickup before Mr. Clayton bought it used last July from a dealer in Visalia, Calif. But the dealer never had the axle repaired — and was not required to do so under the law.
“That could have killed me,” Mr. Clayton said.
The United States does not have a law requiring the repair of used vehicles — including rental cars — that have been recalled for safety issues before they are rented or sold to the public. Used-car dealers and rental car companies are allowed to fix problems when — and if — they see fit. And they are not required by law to disclose to customers that a vehicle is the subject of a recall.