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Schneiderman: More than 100 car dealerships pay fines for missing recall notices

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on April 21 said more than 100 New York auto dealerships would pay a $1,000 fine as part of a settlement for selling vehicles to New Yorkers without informing the purchaser the vehicle was under a safety recall. Schneiderman spoke in a news conference at his Syracuse regional office at 615 Erie Boulevard West.

SYRACUSE — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says auto dealerships need to provide consumers with advance notice of any existing recalls on the vehicles they sell.

Schneiderman on April 21 announced that more than 100 auto dealerships statewide will pay a $1,000 fine for selling vehicles to New Yorkers without informing the purchaser the vehicle was under a recall.

The fines were part of a settlement Schneiderman’s office reached with the dealerships.

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The recalls were for “dangerous” unrepaired safety issues such as unintended acceleration, airbag problems, vehicle fires, steering, and brake loss.

More than half of the dealerships involved in the investigation are located in the Syracuse, Watertown, and Binghamton areas, according to a news release that Schneiderman’s office issued the same day.

Schneiderman also provided details on the settlement for local reporters during a news conference at his Syracuse regional office at 615 Erie Boulevard West.

The attorney general calls the “first in the nation” agreements “groundbreaking,” saying they seek to “protect consumers and to improve public safety on our roads and highways.”

“An extensive investigation by my office found hundreds of used cars with serious, uncorrected problems, problems that had been identified in safety recalls but that were sold to unwitting consumers all across New York with no notice of the problems or the fact that safety recalls had been issued,” Schneiderman said in his remarks during the news conference.

The investigation is “ongoing,” the attorney general added.

Complaints from consumers and consumer advocates that started in December 2015 prompted the investigation, Schneiderman said.

His office conducted an investigation that found while many prospective car buyers “reasonably assume” that any known and existing safety issues have been repaired or disclosed by the dealer, that is “often not the reality” of car buying in New York.

As part of its probe, Schneiderman’s staff surveyed advertisements, monitored vehicles covered by safety recalls, and identified auto dealers that advertised vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls.

Settlement requirements
As part of the settlements, the participating auto dealers are required to follow a set of guidelines to alert consumers that their vehicles may have “unrepaired” recalls.

Dealers that advertise used vehicles online must include information that enables consumers to check the recall status of advertised vehicles. The information will include the SaferCar.gov website that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) operates, Schneiderman’s office said.

Those dealers who advertise in print or other media must also disclose in the advertisement that the vehicle is subject to a safety recall.

In addition, dealers must place a decal notice in the window of used cars, which includes information that allows consumers to check the recall status of the vehicles, including the SaferCar.gov website and mobile application operated by NHTSA.

Two days prior to any sale, dealers must provide consumers with a copy of the NHTSA recall status report for a vehicle with an unrepaired safety recall, and obtain a written acknowledgment from the consumer.

Dealers must send notices to customers who have purchased vehicles with unrepaired safety recalls that are still unrepaired from January 2016 to present. Manufacturers’ franchise dealers must also cover up to five days of a loaner car for consumers if their vehicle requires repairs that will take longer than one day.

Dealerships hit with fines
Schneiderman’s news release listed all the dealerships involved in the settlement, including the following located in the Syracuse, Watertown, and Binghamton areas.

GREATER SYRACUSE REGION
1. Bill Rapp, Inc (2 dealerships)
2. Bridgeland Auto Brokers
3. Cortland Used Cars
4. Liverpool World Car, LLC
5. Par-K Enterprises
6. TDK Property Company of Oneida, LLC
7. TDK Property Co. LLC
8. TRK-2 Operating Company, LLC (3 dealerships)
9. Tecforce Automotive, LLC
10. Drivers Village, Inc. (13 Dealerships)

WATERTOWN AREA
1. FX Caprara Dealerships (14 dealerships)
2. Waite Motor Sales, Inc.

GREATER BINGHAMTON REGION
1. Butler Auto Sales, Sidney
2. Chambers & O’Hara Truck Center, Inc., Sidney
3. North Norwich Motors & Trailer Sales, LLC, North Norwich
4. SHB Associates LLC (Serafini Nissan Volvo), Vestal
5. VanDervort Service Center, Inc., Vestal
6. Ridge Road Imports, LLC, Lansing
7. Milller Motor Car Corp (2 dealerships), Vestal
8. Royal Ford Motors, Inc./Royal Chrysler Motors, Inc. (2 dealerships), Owego
9. Gault Auto Mall, Inc. (3 dealerships), Endicott
10. Gene Balmer’s Auto Sales, Elmira
11. Jeff Kies Auto Sales, Inc., Apalachin

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