What Should I Do If The Used Car I Want Has An Open Recall?

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Photo: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing buying a car with an open recall and whether or not to put a deposit on a Cybertruck.


First up, what should you do if the used car you prefer has an open recall?

“My wife and I have a baby on the way, have done some shopping around and arrived at the 2017 or older Volvo XC60 as the perfect fit for our new family. Unfortunately, these and seemingly every Volvo from this era is under a seatbelt recall. The only ones we can find are from used car dealers with no warranty, and we’re really trying to lean on Volvo’s seemingly excellent CPO plan. According to one dealer we reached out to, they are under order from Volvo to not sell these vehicles until the recall is complete, with an ETA of November. A few questions here:

1. Despite us being very motivated, the salespeople are not really giving us much attention, presumably because they aren’t going to make a sale that day. How would you approach the conversation with them to get a good idea of inventory or ETA? Can we even negotiate yet at all?

2. Do you think this type of situation gives us leverage in the price? Could we expect lower prices for these vehicles once they’re back on the market because the dealer should have a bunch of lease returns just sitting around?

3. Should we look into just going with a used, non-warrantied car instead, which is available now, and deal with the recall ourselves and “self-insuring” against the cost of repairs with leftover cash earmarked? If we do go with a used, non-warrantied car, would we be able to leverage the recall to lower the price substantially?”

This situation has popped up a few times with various brands. Most automakers lock down their certified pre-owned models if a recall needs to be addressed. Naturally, that creates a situation in the market where fewer cars are actually available for sale. As for communicating with the dealer for the cars that may be available in November, basically you’ll just have to wait and see. Sometimes recalls are not addressed on time, and since those cars are technically “not for sale” there isn’t really much you can do at this point regarding price.

In terms of using the recall for a CPO or non-CPO car as price leverage, that probably won’t get you very far. If the inventory is tight and a dealer can sell that unit despite it not being certified, the fact that there is an open recall isn’t going to have much bearing on the price. If you decide to wait until November to buy the cars that have been fixed, the price is going to depend on market demand at that time. If there is a lot of inventory, dealers will adjust their prices accordingly.

What it really comes down to is how important that CPO coverage is for you and whether or not having a car with a potentially defective seatbelt is worth the risk of buying something now.

Next up, is it worth putting a deposit on a Cybertruck knowing it will be a long time before it comes to market?

“I have a paid-off 2015 Ford Fusion hybrid. It’s a solid car and I put on less than 10,000 miles a year. I’d like to get another 3-4 years out of my Fusion before I buy my next vehicle. I want my next vehicle to be electric and I really like the Cybertruck. I have always bought new, but I do not want a $500 a month payment.

So my question is, should I put a deposit down on a Cybertruck now, knowing it’s a few years out and I can save for it, or should I wait and just get something when it’s time to get a vehicle? Maybe cross my fingers for a used 1 yr old Cybertruck in 3-4 years?”


If the deposit is refundable, which they are in most cases, you have nothing to lose by putting some cash down now. If you change your mind you can always get that deposit refunded to you.

That being said, you mentioned you didn’t want a payment of $500, so I am assuming you want it to be less than that. If you were to assume a 60-month loan at a 5 percent APR, $500 a month means you would be financing something around $26,500. While pricing for the Cybertruck has yet to be revealed, I am incredibly certain that it will be well over $30,000, with my prediction pushing the MSRP closer to $50,000 or $60,000. So unless you plan on saving up tens of thousands of dollars, it’s likely the Cybertruck won’t be the right fit for your budget.


Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!


Dubblewhopper-a dubble negative

1.) Get a used Cayenne, though they seem hell bent on Volvo.

2.) Let this delusional fucker plunk down a deposit for the truck. I bet it will not look like the prototype and will cost a tad north of $60,000.