The Vehicle Remarking Association (VRA) is warning that outstanding manufacturer recalls in the used car market could attract the interest of Trading Standards.
Jonathan Butler, of specialist automotive solicitors Geldards and a VRA board member, believes that Trading Standards are looking at used car sales where retailers have not notified customers vehicles are the subject of outstanding manufacturer recalls.
He said: “This might be seen as a product safety issue under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 other than in certain exceptions. However, it is not a clear area and one where some dealers could, unless they are very careful, potentially find themselves encountering difficulties.”
The clarification on the DVSA’s powers followed investigations into Vauxhall’s Zafira model B fires and BMW’s recall of 312,000 vehicles due to an electrical fault caused by a B+ battery connector.
Butler says that problems could arise where retailers do not opt for the outstanding recall option when undertaking vehicle history checks.
“Bearing in mind the small additional cost involved, we would very much recommend this as an action by all used-car dealers,” he said.
“In our opinion, it should form part of best practice procedures that are undertaken before vehicles are advertised for sale.”
Sam Watkins, chair at the VRA, added: “Keeping members abreast of legal developments such as these is one of the most important functions of the VRA and we will be discussing this issue in detail at our next meeting in Birmingham on July 10.”
Recalls can be missed when a vehicle transfers between keepers so, in 2015, SMMT and its members developed a consumer-facing online look-up service to make it easier for individual drivers to check for themselves. The service was rolled out to meet specific commercial needs in 2018.
For fleet owners, operators and businesses that provide fleet services, a vehicle with an outstanding recall could see insurance voided.
Furthermore, the DVSA has the power to prosecute businesses that sell vehicles to consumers with an outstanding safety recall. Failure to check a car for an outstanding safety recall could lead to a fine of up to £20,000 and/ or up to three months imprisonment.
To ensure every vehicle on a company’s books is compliant, the SMMT launched a fleet-dedicated version of its Vehicle Safety Recall Service.
The service provides a bulk automated look-up tool, allowing companies to check any size fleet and up to 100,000 or more in a single batch. The service is fully automated with results usually returned within the hour.
For further information and to check whether a vehicle, part or accessory has been recalled, visit the DVSA website.