Unfixed auto recalls on the rise on Heartland roads

MISSOURI AND ILLINOIS (KFVS) - There are potentially dangerous vehicles driving all over the Heartland right now.

That's because, according to data collected by CarFax, an estimated 3.5 million vehicles with unfixed safety recalls operating on Missouri and Illinois roads.

"We're talking about one out of every four cars on the road with a dangerous unfixed recall," said Chris Basso with Carfax.

That statistic reflects a 25-percent increase in the number of unfixed recalls in both states since 2016 and a shocking 34-percent increase nationwide.

For many, the numbers are no surprise.

"I believe it," mom Lisa Blank said. "In the last 10 years, the three cars I've owned, each one has had a recall."

Finding faulty vehicles was disturbingly easy.

Heartland News took the MyCarfax App around Cape Girardeau and started running license plates.

It did not take long to run into dangerous cars.

Some of the vehicles we found had recalls with no remedy available.

That was the story for mom Susan Coke.

"I got a letter from Toyota saying that they have this recall, but they don't have the fix yet," Coke said.

We caught up with Coke on her way to Cape Slash with her kids.

Her Toyota Sienna is part of the Takata airbag recall.

"The passenger side air bag will explode and something like metal pieces or something will come out," she said. "I'm a very cautious driver.  I keep a good distance. I worry more about somebody hitting me."

In fact, we were surprised to find out family vehicles like SUV's and Minivans are more likely to have unfixed recalls than other vehicles, according to Carfax spokesman Chris Basso.

He said busy family life often keeps parents from getting the defects repaired.

"Vehicles that we are putting our kids in, bringing them to school and soccer practice, every single day," he said.

Honda Service Manger Rusty Mayfield comes across vehicles with open recalls all the time.

"A lot of times they may not know they have a recall, especially if they bought a pre-owned vehicle," Mayfield said. "The manufacturer doesn't realize that they have that vehicle. So they don't have a way of contacting that person."

The industry is working to improve gaps in the notification system so when owners move or a vehicle is resold, the owner gets a notification.

Basso said an increasing focus on vehicle safety and manufacturer recalls can seem like white noise to car owners, who often lose sight of which recalls apply to them and how serious those recalls are.

"Call your local dealer," Mayfield said. "They can run your vehicle number and tell if you have any open recalls and they don't expire and it's always done free of charge."

Mayfield said a fix usually runs between an hour to an hour and a half.

Some could take as little as 5 minutes and potentially save a life.

"A person comes in here with a recall, we do everything we can," Mayfield said. "We give them a shuttle ride to get their car fixed. We want to make sure it's safe for them and it's one of the things we can do. We can do every ten miles. We can run them to the mall, to a restaurant, maybe to an appointment and we'll pick them back up."

To check for unfixed recalls on your own vehicle, you can use the free MyCarfax app, or you can use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.

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