Assembly Panel Approves Moriarty, Diegnan Pro-Consumer Legislation to Inform Used Car Buyers of Motor Vehicle Recalls

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee recently released a pro-consumer bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty and Patrick Diegnan that would require a car dealer to provide information to a potential buyer of a used motor vehicle with outstanding recalls.

“Buyers should be informed of motor vehicle recalls before a purchase is made,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Recalled vehicles sold unwittingly to consumers pose a safety risk. Whether the vehicle has been recalled is critical information for families to know before buying.”

Under the bill, it would be an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for the dealer to sell a used vehicle without first contacting, or accessing information provided by, the vehicle manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if there are any recalls specific to a particular vehicle, not just the vehicle’s make and model, which have not been corrected or addressed. In the event that a recall is discovered, the dealer would provide the recall information to the prospective purchaser prior to finalizing the sale of the vehicle.

“This legislation will keep used car sales honest and fair, as they should be,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Consumers should be informed so that they may make the best decision possible.”

An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more that $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, violations can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

The bill applies only to retail sales, excluding wholesale sales, sales between dealers, and sales to owners or operators of motor vehicle junk businesses or motor vehicle junk yards, or any other persons or entities engaged in the business of dismantling, destroying, or recycling motor vehicles.