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Buyer beware: What you might not know about some cars being sold

Consumer beware: Your recent car purchase may be harboring some neglected recalls. A new study completed by the vehicle-history website Carfax has found that more than two million vehicles were put up for sale online in 2012 despite featuring unrepaired safety recalls. Since plenty of cars are sold offline, though, the actual figures in Ohio and across the country could be much higher.

That should be of more than trifling concern to prospective buyers, many of whom may unknowingly be purchasing vehicles that are defective in material ways. Although not all recalls pose immediate safety risks, many could expose drivers to a greater risk of a car accident. And every recall relates to a safety concern in some regard, so there is no instance where a recall should be ignored.

Carfax determined which cars had yet to be repaired by using VIN numbers and cross-referencing federal data.

However, if consumers do their research on vehicles and identify one with an outstanding recall, there could be ways to take advantage. For one, you can push for a lower price on a vehicle by pointing to the recall repairs you will have to make. Although recalls are performed for free at the vehicle's dealership, it is still a complication for you and a loss of your time.

Consumers can find out about vehicle recalls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website or on the free recall check site offered by Carfax.

Some states may soon see this recall risk downgraded thanks to proposed legislation that would make it illegal to sell a vehicle before recall repairs are made. In the meantime, consumers should be diligent in doing their homework; it might help them prevent a motor vehicle crash triggered by a defective vehicle.

Source: ABC News, "Car buyers beware: millions of recalled cars are sold without needed repairs," Elisabeth Leamy, Feb. 11, 2013

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