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Carfax reports show government workers drove recalled cars

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Carfax reports show government workers drove recalled cars

WATCH:  Dates shown on CARFAX reports reveal additional proof that federal government workers drove cars with open recalls. 

The discovery comes after an exclusive Circa investigation found the GSA auctioning off cars with open recalls, and also allowing some federal employees to drive cars that hadn't been fixed.


CARFAX reports for vehicles owned by the General Services Administration appear to provide additional evidence that federal government workers have driven cars with open recalls.

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The reports obtained by Circa show that some cars ultimately offered for auction to the general public were first driven by government workers, sometimes for months or years without repairs made to outstanding recall issues.

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CARFAX reports Circa examined include an important tell-tale date, indicating when vehicles experienced a crash.  Using that date, Circa was able to tell how long GSA-owned cars were driven following a recall.  

For instance, a Chevy van up for GSA auction in Washington had an accident in 2015 according to its CARFAX. The vehicle had a recall 11 months earlier, with a problem that could increase the risk of injuries to passengers in the car.


Another CARFAX report shows a Dodge Caravan offered for auction last summer by the GSA was driven for nearly two months AFTER a recall was issued.  The recall in that case involved a wireless ignition problem that could shut off the engine at any moment, increasing the risk of a crash.  

Additionally, the reports also indicated some GSA vehicles were taken to dealerships for servicing multiple times after a recall was issued, without repairs being made to the issue.  In one case, a Ford pick-up was seen by a dealer at least six times without a fix. 

The number of GSA cars being auctioned to the public that also had accidents Circa could use as a timestamp was very small. But they provide additional proof to show that federal government workers had driven recalled cars.

Service tags spotted on cars at GSA auctions also indicated that was happening, with some cars driven for months or years after a recall.

Circa talked with well-known auto safety advocate Clarence Ditlow several weeks ago, getting his reaction to the government selling recalled cars to the public. 

When we showed him federal government workers had also been behind the wheel of cars with open recalls, he said,  "You have to ask whether OSHA

When we showed him federal government workers had also been behind the wheel of cars with open recalls, he said, "You have to ask whether OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) should also investigate GSA because you don’t create a workplace hazard and a vehicle with an unfixed, outstanding recall is in fact an occupational hazard.”

Federal lawmakers have expressed concern about a Circa investigation that showed federal workers have driven cars with potentially dangerous problems. 

The House Oversight Committee as well as other House lawmakers and Senator Claire McCaskill have all written the GSA asking for information about what's done to make sure federal workers are safe.


We asked the GSA to comment specifically on what we found in the CARFAX reports and offered the agency's representatives yet another opportunity to be interviewed on camera.  But a spokeswoman declined.

The GSA has previously said the agency will pull cars from the fleet when a so-called "Stop Drive" recall is issued.  

The agency says automated notifications go out to the agencies that lease GSA cars when there's a recall. Monthly reminders are also sent and fleet managers at headquarters are sent a report every two months that shows open recalls.

Editor's note:  Clarence Ditlow, the long-time auto safety advocate interviewed for this piece, passed away November 10th. His work with the Center for Auto Safety was a major factor in the safety recalls of tens of millions of vehicles.  

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