Pro-consumer legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Angelica Jimenez and Eliana Pintor Marin sponsored that would require auto dealers to provide information to a potential buyer of a used motor vehicle with an outstanding recall gained approval from the General Assembly on Wednesday.
“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 (A-755), it would be an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act for an auto 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.
The sponsors noted that the legislation would allow consumers to make informed decisions. Having information regarding recalls would enable a potential buyer to request repairs prior to making a purchase, negotiate for a better sale price on the vehicle or decide against purchasing the vehicle altogether, they said.
“In the 50 years since the federal government started issuing recalls, the public has been notified of defects in more than half a billion vehicles and vehicle parts, and people are safer for it,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “This bill advances the intent of the recall process by ensuring that potential new owners of a used car are aware of any safety concerns.”
“Consumers have a right to all background information about their vehicles, particularly when that information can help them protect themselves and their families,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “This measure will promote transparency at used car dealerships and help put buyers at ease.”
An unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act is punishable by a monetary penalty of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $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.
The measure, which received unanimous Assembly approval, now awaits further Senate consideration.