By on December 5, 2016

image: Michael Sheehan AutoNation 2014

Used vehicles with open recalls have begun rolling off AutoNation lots again, 16 months after the country’s largest new vehicle retailer promised an end to the practice.

The retailer, which has a half-billion dollar used vehicle expansion plan in the works, blames the about-face on the incoming Trump administration, with its CEO declaring that the legislative fight for mandatory used car recall repair is dead in the water.

Speaking to Automotive News, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson claims he’s done all he can.

“If parts are available, we repair them,” Jackson said. “If the parts are not available, we’ll either auction or retail it. In both cases, we use full disclosure if we retail or auction it without having made a repair. It’s been a very difficult journey, but with the Trump administration there’s no way that that issue is going to be addressed from a regulatory point of view.”

Jackson, a self-described Clinton supporter, believed his company’s policy would spur legislation holding all used vehicle retailers to the same standard. Many safety advocates felt that a Clinton win would help pave the way for a federal ban on the sale of used cars with open recalls, not unlike the existing law for new vehicle sales.

By throwing in the towel, the retailer can now rid itself of an expensive burden.

Around 6,000 used vehicles awaiting recall repairs languished in AutoNation’s inventory at the end of November, the bulk of them equipped with Takata airbags. The recall’s scale has made the repair process a slow one. Late last year, AutoNation walked back part of its policy and began sending some recalled vehicles to auction (outfitted with window stickers stating the vehicles’ recalled status).

“The scale of the issue became astronomical,” Jackson said. “If things were ever going to change, Takata would be the rallying cry to say we can’t go on like this anymore.”

Only vehicles that couldn’t be repaired within a six-month period were sent to auction. Still, Jackson claims that most of the disclosure notices were removed, leaving future customers in the dark. By scrapping his policy, Jackson says would-be AutoNation customers will still be notified of the recall status of his company’s used vehicles, allowing them to make an informed decision.

[Image: Michael Sheehan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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34 Comments on “AutoNation Reneges on No-recall Sales Promise, Blames Trump...”

  • avatar

    Nice deflection there, Jackson.

    • 0 avatar


      Jackson’s rationale is just an opportunistic excuse for doing the wrong thing – at least according to AN’s pr and advertisements saying they would do the opposite. He needs a law or reg to compel him to do what he said he would do voluntarily.

      Jackson is a JA and I would never buy anything from AN.

      • 0 avatar

        Preach, brother, preach. He is THE WORST operator of all the megadealers, greedy bastard who doesn’t believe in fair pay for employees.

        How liberal of him.

        You’re right on the money, he’s being opportunistic and thinks we will buy his bullshit rationale with a stupid pink tag frame.

  • avatar

    Clinton supporters want to be less horrible people, but they need very specific laws to govern their actions if they’re to have any hope.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess to follow our Orange Leader’s example, when there’s money to be made it would be stupid to do the “right” thing unless forced by specific laws and regulations. Unfortunately we will soon have a POUTS (intentional and very fitting) that understands this too well.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you serious? He wants a blanket ban so other retailers don’t undercut him by selling recalled cars. He’s running a business, not a charity.

      • 0 avatar

        Recalls are nothing new in the industry and this isn’t the first time a dealer has had to deal with radioactive inventory. If such a ban came into play, does it affect dealers, private party, or both? How will states keep track of banned inventory? Which recalls necessitate a “ban”, all or just some?

        My thought is suck it up buttercup. This isn’t that hard, make a list of what’s affected by Takata and don’t stock it. Dump all trades on the list except those worth sitting out for X months waiting for a fix. Simple.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      But you referring to more than half of all voters as ‘horrible’ is a sign of what a kind, decent human being you are.

      I do not fully understand so many on the right’s need to insult others, their desire to create conflict and division, but I hope they come out of it soon.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Soooo, they began rolling back the policy late last year but this is in response to Trump? I guess this dude should be on the Sunday morning shows if he saw Trump winning that early in the game.

  • avatar

    How would you enforce a blanket ban (proactively), anyway, without another huge bureaucracy? Consumers should do their own research – I installed a VIN lookup app (called “VIN Lookup”, of course) that lets you scan the barcode under the VIN. It then searches online for recalls.

  • avatar

    My Son In Law recently purchased an Acura SUV from a used car dealer, the list of recalls including airbags on that truck is astounding for a supposedly near luxury Japanese car.

    Fortunately maybe the engine “blowed up” within a few hundred miles and he is returning it after a number of failed attempts to fix it.

    The average person doesn’t pay attention, the thought of my grandchildren in that SUV with exploding airbags worries me.

    There does need to be a law to prevent resale, particularly for safety stuff like seat belts and airbags.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That’s the dumbest excuse I think I’ve ever heard.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t worry Kyree, you’ve got lots of years of life remaining for someone to top this excuse.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, its outrageous.

      “We know we shouldn’t do it, but since there is no law preventing it, we are going to do it under protest because Trump.”

      There isn’t a law saying I have to help an old lady who fell on the sidewalk, but I’m not going to walk by and say “you can thank Trump for this! If only there was a law commanding me to help you, oh well, sorry, I’m not allowed to do the right thing unless forced to by law.”

  • avatar

    So years of blaming Obama for everything now it’s payback time.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Still waiting on a Takata airbag for my 2010 Mazda 6.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This kind of stuff didn’t begin with Obama . . . or Trump. For sometime now, I’ve been noticing that lots of people have the attitude, “if it’s not prohibited by law, I’m going to do it.”
    This leads in a couple of directions, both bad. First, it leads to an increasingly dense regulatory state. Whatever you think about regulations (whether they are per se good or bad), there’s no disputing that they are a net social loss in terms of administrative expense. Regulations can always be circumvented. See, the Internal Revenue Code and the “chicken tax” as examples, not to mention CAFE which lead to the creation of, among other things, SUVs. So, regulations never end, as clever lawyers find ways around them, and then regulators respond with efforts to block those ways.

    Secondly, it defines behavior down, which makes our country a less trusting and less pleasant place to live and work. This also has a cost, as people increasingly find the need to “lawyer up” for this or that.

    As for the “competitive disadvantage,” cited above: what about advertising that your cars have no open recalls, as opposed to the other guys? I have three open recalls on my truck, none of which sound life threatening. Eventually, I’ll get around to dealing with them. But the Takata airbag recalls on my Honda Pilot I dealt with right away. I’m sure a buyer would appreciate knowing he could drive a new AN used Japanese brand car off the lot without worrying that the airbag would kill him or his passenger.

  • avatar

    Wow, that’s some stupid reasoning.

    Not that I was ever dumb enough to get ripped off at AutoNation, but it’s good to know the CEO will do the right thing as long as the election goes his way.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    People will die because of this, but we don’t care because we want corporations to make money and we don’t think it’s anyone in our immediate family who will die.

    We have lost our way as a society. We’re worthless piles of shit who hide behind Jesus as we root for the deaths of others.

  • avatar

    Trump is a convenient excuse to change a business policy that has cost a lot of money since implementing it.

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