Can Dealerships Sell Cars With Open Recalls?

Unfortunately dealerships can sell unfixed recalled cars, however there are a few things you can do to ensure that it won't become a problem for you.

Can Dealerships Sell Cars With Open Recalls?

If you’re out buying a car, and you hear the word “recall” in association with your first choice, don’t recoil in fear. Recalls can be a good thing. In fact, it is something broken on the car that the manufacturer has agreed to fix, free of charge, and that’s a good thing. However, while recalls are issued in order to get your car fixed, some people just don’t get them done.

That said, some recall statistics can be a bit scary depending on what brand you end up going with. According to a study, one in four vehicles on the road in America has an open recall.

So what happens when you go to buy a used car from a dealership that may or may not have had its recalls fixed?

Can Dealerships Sell Cars With Open Recalls

In short, yes dealerships can sell a car with a unfixed recall, as long as they deem the car “used”. If you’re going to buy a new car, though, the dealership is not legally allowed to sell it to you if it has an open recall.

The reason this is allowed is that it takes a long time for dealerships to get the parts necessary to fix their recalled cars, thereby reducing the value of the cars. It doesn’t seem justified, especially since a recall can be detrimental in several ways, granted it takes upwards of 60 days for parts to arrive.

Why is this bad

Recalls are issued because a part of the car is dysfunctional to the point of being dangerous. If you buy a car with a unfixed recall, you could be putting yourself and other drivers at risk of serious injury. Not all recalls are deadly though, so do some research and see what you’re up against.

What Can You Do About it

This doesn’t mean you can’t buy a used car from a dealership. When looking into buying a used car, check out its history and make sure if it had any recalls issued, that they were fixed on that particular model. You can do so using the VIN, which can be found on the title, registration, or on the car itself either on the inside and bottom of the windshield or on the inside of a door frame. From there you can take the VIN and enter it on websites like

You Should be able to negotiate with the dealership to fix the recall, but doing so might make getting the car at the price you want more difficult. Still, it never hurts to just ask.

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Buying a car with an open recall

As far as buying a car with an open recall, you can still get it fixed as long as the manufacturers are still able to do so. Just be aware that even though the car has an open recall, the dealership may try to sell it at a normal price, which you should be able to negotiate especially if it has some horrific problem that hasn’t been fixed.

Keep in mind that not all dealerships will sell used cars with unfixed recalls. Do your research, and ask them if they do fix recalls. Even if they say yes, still check on the car you want to buy and make sure it's recalls were fixed. Instamotor makes this a very easy process, as all cars listed come with a free recall check so you can already know if the car has any open recalls.

Brian GrabianowskiBrian Grabianowski

Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.