This week the Senate will likely vote on an amendment being offered by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would make it illegal for dealers to sell a car with an open recall. While at first this sounds reasonable, the reality is this amendment would apply to any and all recalls, some as insignificant as a misprinted owner’s manual.

The consequences of Blumenthal’s amendment would be a blanket restriction leaving not just dealerships holding the bag but American consumers. In fact the most burdensome impact would be on millions of average Americans who suddenly find their cars with zero trade-in value. It would also prevent consumers from buying some models even though the recall is extremely trivial. 

The truth is while safety recalls receive the most attention, the majority are unrelated to safety. For example some KIA models were subject to recall because the tire pressure sticker was misprinted. General Motors also saw a recall of Camaros because “the air bag warning label on the sun visor may peel off.”

Although it is good for consumers to be well informed, enacting overzealous restrictions that blanket the automobile industry and consumer trade-ins is not an approach founded in logic.

For instance a more common sense approach would be to have dealers disclose open recalls at the point of the sale. This would allow consumers to decide whether something as trivial as a misprinted label is important enough to deter purchase. This is exactly how the free market is supposed to work.

Senator Blumenthal’s amendment assumes to little of consumers and market forces. The Senator’s amendment would limit consumer choice and destroy the trade-in value for millions of Americans. Lawmakers in Congress should take action and oppose this illogical and economically detrimental amendment. 


Photo credit: Thomas Hawk