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Salvage title cars could come with unidentified auto defects

In the last couple of years, recalls initiated by car manufacturers have made headlines numerous times. The recalls cover auto defects from ignition switches to airbags. Many used car buyers here in Pennsylvania and elsewhere may feel confident that any parts subject to recall were fixed or that a car they consider buying does not have a recalled product in it, but that confidence could be misplaced.

Recently, a crash in another state brought to light a problem that some Pennsylvania residents might not have considered: used cars with salvage titles could contain parts subject to recalls. In this crash, the woman behind the wheel nearly lost her life when her airbag exploded. Most people only need one guess to know that the vehicle contained a Takata airbag.

When the woman's father purchased the vehicle for her in Las Vegas, they were unaware of its history. He knew the vehicle had a "salvage" title, but did not know that a Takata airbag was used when it was rebuilt after being declared a total loss in 2015 by insurance after an accident in Phoenix, Arizona. The problem is that it was perfectly legal for the airbag to be put into the vehicle even though it was recalled.

However, the argument is that consumers have the right to know where the parts came from when a vehicle is rebuilt. Considering how dangerous many of the auto defects that are subject to recall can be, all of the parties with some responsibility for used vehicles ending up on the roadways with unsuspecting consumers may bear some liability when an accident occurs. As for the Nevada woman, she continues to recover from the hole in her trachea caused by the defective airbag, but many would say that she is lucky to be alive.

Source:, "Crash exposes dangerous gap in efforts to recall Takata air bags", Ken Ritter, April 19, 2017

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