Wednesday, December 8

Used Car Chain Refuses to Sell Vehicles Affected By Recent Air Bag Recall

After car companies recalled more than 12 million cars in October due to potentially dangerous air bags, many consumers and retailers have expressed concern at the confusing nature of the situation. Notably, the United States government has yet to issue a statement, despite the fact that there may be as many as 25 million faulty vehicles in the U.S. alone. However, one of the largest used car dealership chains in the nation is taking a stand: the CEO of AutoNation has announced that the company will not be selling cars included in the recall.

The recall targets millions of vehicles in the U.S., Europe and Asia that use airbags made by the Takata Corporation, an auto-parts company based in Japan. The faulty airbags reportedly explode with unusually powerful force when their chemicals are triggered, blowing apart metal canisters and sending fragments into passenger areas. Currently, safety advocates report that four people have died and many more have been injured due to this malfunction. However, the situation could be much worse: the Takata Corporation makes as many as 22% of the world’s air bags.

Because of confusion about the extent of the problem and the need to quickly supply the necessary replacement parts to certain areas, the U.S. has yet to issue a national recall. Unfortunately, Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, blames this conflicting stance for his company’s decision to not sell cars that might include damaged airbags. While 10 automakers, including BMW, Honda and General Motors, have recalled vehicles, some brands have focused solely on Southern states with high humidity, as investigators believe that extended exposure to moisture in the air could be behind the malfunctions. In contrast, other companies have focused on the nation as a whole: Honda, for example, frequently uses Takata products and has recalled five million vehicles dating back to 2001.

AutoNation’s decision to not sell cars that may have been affected by the recall could have a significant impact on the American automobile industry, particularly as used cars become an increasingly popular choice for many Americans. Currently, AutoNation has over 225 stores around the country, which sell more than 30 different car brands. The company claims to have helped more than 43 million customers buy or service their cars. This could have a serious effect on what used cars consumers buy now, how they view the recall, and how they view the brands affected by the recall.

While Jackson believes the recall is giving the automobile industry a bad name, his refusal to sell the cars that use the problematic air bags might only be adding to the confusion. Presently, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found no affected vehicles outside of Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii. This fact lends credence to the theory that humidity is a major component of the explosions.

“I believe this faulty airbag situation is a major concern for consumers. Most of the population trusts these mega companies to ensure their safety. It could lead to some brand loyalty shifts,” explains Jared Scott, Sales Manager for Vito’s Auto Sales and Rentals. “However, things happen and even the best of companies aren’t perfect. It’s just good to know that the companies in question, are in fact attempting to make the problems right.”

Currently, NHTSA investigators are working alongside the Takata to test air bags from recalled vehicles and watch crash reports. The information they find will be used to set firmer guidelines for the recall. Until this information is released, however, consumers are encouraged to contact their automobile dealer to discuss whether or not their car may have been affected.

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