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Close to a third of recalled cars are unrepaired and on the roads

Motor vehicle recalls have reached record numbers, but about 30 percent of recalled cars are still on the road.

If it seems as though motor vehicle recalls are regularly in the news, that's because they are. As the Detroit Free Press reports, vehicle recalls have increased every year from 2011, with a record-breaking 53 million vehicles having been recalled last year. However, what is particularly distressing is that close to a third of all recalled vehicles are never repaired and remain on the roads and highways, presenting a potential danger to both their drivers and other road users. Below is a look at why so many recalled vehicles are never fixed and what is being done to address the problem.

Recalls keep growing

In 2016, there were 927 separate recalls that affected 53 million vehicles in total, the highest number on record. Furthermore, since 2011, when 13.6 million vehicles were recalled, such recalls have increased each year, often by significant amounts. Those recalls have been for a wide number of issues, including electrical fires, broken door latches, and, perhaps most infamously of all, defective air bags.

Why do recalls go unrepaired?

With vehicle recalls constantly in the news, it may seem surprising that some vehicle owners would not be aware that their own vehicles are subject to a recall. But that is indeed the case. In fact, federal data shows that about 30 percent of recalled vehicles have not been repaired, despite the fact that such repairs are free.

Many vehicle owners may underestimate how severe their recall is and simply choose not to bring in their car for repair. In other cases, there may not be enough parts available to fix the problem. In some instances, dealers have even sell cars that are subject to open recalls without repairing the defect or notifying the buyer that the car has been recalled.

The biggest challenge, however, is simply notifying car owners that their vehicles have been recalled. This is an especially large roadblock when a vehicle has been bought and resold a number of times. To address the problem, the Department of Transportation has launched a pilot program in Maryland whereby a list of open recalls will be provided to vehicle owners upon vehicle registration. According to MLive, the grants for the pilot project were offered to six different states, but only Maryland took up the offer. The two-year program could eventually serve as a model for programs in other states, including California, which has the highest number of recalled vehicles on the road.

Dealing with defective vehicles

Many defective and recalled vehicles are covered by California's unique lemon law. For those who have purchased a defective vehicle, it is important to talk to a consumer protection attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help clients understand if they are covered by California consumer protection laws and whether they can seek financial compensation if they have been sold a defective vehicle .

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