CHICAGO — There’s a problem with the federal government’s fleet of cars.
That’s according to a pair of Illinois lawmakers who say they’ve found little is being done to fix the taxpayer-owned vehicles when there’s a known issue such as a faulty airbag.
Often, those same cars are later sold at auction, even if the issues hasn’t been resolved.
The Center for Auto Safety estimates that as many as 25,000 federal vehicles are under a recall order that has not been addressed.
“Not only are these cars not being repaired, but they are being sold to the public,” U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) said. “To think that our federal employees or even people who are commissioned to protect us might be driving these vehicles and they can be repaired for free is really galling.”
WGN Investigates found that five different government vehicles under some sort of recall order were recently sold at an auction house in Rockford.
The open recalls were disclosed in those cases but the potential for problems still exists.
Krishnamoorthi and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have introduced legislation, dubbed the Safe Cars Act, that would mandate any federal vehicle under recall be fixed before it’s sold or driven.
For someone like Tyler Meier, 28, it’s surprising that legislation is needed to address what should’ve been done in the first place.
He was seriously injured in a car crash when a faulty air bag deployed. His accident didn’t involve a federal vehicle but it did involve a car with a recall that wasn’t addressed, meaning his injuries could’ve potentially been avoided or have been far less severe.
Recalls are not something to be ignored, he says, noting that in his case, “As soon as we saw the recall notice, we knew it was something more than just a normal car accident.”
Repairing the federal fleet would not cost taxpayers a dime, since automakers foot the bills in these cases. The Safe Cars Act needs to pass out of committee before it can be voted on by Congress.