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"Get safety recalls fixed or risk prosecution" DVSA warns car dealers

Posted 19/02/18

Motor traders that sell cars with outstanding safety recalls are breaking the law the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) warns today, as it launches a new service designed to help people buying cars – and dealers themselves – check if cars are safe. 

The regulations1 say that dealers need to get cars with outstanding recalls fixed before selling a car on to a consumer.  If they don’t, they can be prosecuted by Trading Standards.

The rules apply to all commercial sales, from online sellers, authorised dealers and franchises to small, independent High Street firms.

So, the new check for a car safety recall service uses data supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to allow anyone wanting to buy a used car, and existing car owners, to check if it has an outstanding safety recall by using its registration number.

The service joins DVSA’s check the MOT history of a vehicle, which allows buyers to check whether a car has a current MOT and has been well maintained.

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said:

“DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles.

“It’s an offence for a motor dealer to sell a car with an outstanding vehicle safety recall. They need to get it fixed before a car is sold.

“This new service allows you to check if a specific car has any outstanding vehicle safety recalls, making it potentially dangerous, simply by entering its registration number.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said:

“Car makers in the UK have a world-leading record for successful safety recalls, and dealers need to keep themselves up to date to ensure every used car they sell is safe. This new service using SMMT data now makes that even easier, allowing them to see whether a car has any recalls outstanding at the same time as checking its MOT history.”


Posted on behalf of the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency

Further information:

  1. The obligations of car manufacturers and distributors (including commercial car dealers) are set out in the General Product Safety Regulations: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1803/regulation/15/made
  2. A full safety recall is used when a fault is liable to cause significant risk of personal injury or death and can be attributed to a failure in a vehicle’s (or vehicle component’s) design or construction. Importantly, the driver would not have any warning that this failure will occur. Under the General Product Safety Regulations manufacturers or distributors have to fix these faults for free.
  3. In some circumstances, DVSA may agree to action short of a full safety recall where there is not a significant risk of injury or death. This approach might also be used when the issue is not necessarily caused by a design fault but by incorrect maintenance.
  4. The data used by the check a vehicle recall service is supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers or Traders (SMMT) and covers 92% of the cars and small vans used in the UK.

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