When it comes to informing the car-buying public about potential safety hazards on used vehicles, there are two emerging schools of thought among used-car dealers.
New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them but used cars are under no such mandate.
In one camp: those who disclose as little as possible. Used-car giant CarMax leaves it to customers to check to see whether a car is under recall. Consumer groups filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last month, because they believe the lack of information amounts to deceptive advertising.
In the other: Honda, which has gone in the opposite direction. The company recently started disclosing possible recalls related to airbag malfunctions in certain vehicles. Honda is asking customers buying those used cars to sign a document that acknowledges they've been made aware of the issue. Buyers may be better informed, but such a signature could also shift liability away from the automaker.
It's a vexing issue on several fronts.
New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them, under rules imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But used-car sellers are under no such mandate. Honda's disclosure helps consumers understand their new purchase may contain a potentially lethal defect, but some are worried that it could frighten customers away or expose dealerships to greater liability.