One in Six Rideshare Cars Have Open Recalls, GAO Finds

Since most drivers use their own cars, the open recall rate is about the same as for other privately owned cars.

One in Six Rideshare Cars Have Open Recalls, GAO Finds
Photo by Paul Hanaoka / Unsplash

Next time you jump into an Uber or Lyft, you might find yourself wondering if the driver seems up to the job but a new study suggests you might also want to ask if the driver has kept up with the latest recall notices.

After all, rideshare drivers are usually using their own cars and they may have ignored or simply never heard about important safety recalls, according to a new General Accounting Office study.

The GAO found that about 16% of rideshare vehicles had open safety recalls in August 2022. That's a little bit worse than the average for all cars on the road, according to Carfax, which recently reported that about 1 in 5, or about 20 percent, of passenger vehicles nationally had an open safety recall in 2022.


No law against ignoring recalls

These drivers should all be arrested, you say? Maybe so, but there's actually no law that requires owners of private vehicles to keep up with safety recalls. Federal law requires rental car companies to respond to recalls but there's no requirement for rideshare drivers to do so.

States aren't much more diligent. Of six states GAO surveyed, only one, Maryland, requires that a vehicle used for ridesourcing be certified annually as not having any open safety recalls.

GAO surveyed five localities and none of them had any regulations about rideshares keeping up with safety recalls.

GAO surveyed private rideshare companies as well and found that most required suspending drivers whose cars have "Do Not Drive" recalls – the most serious kind.

The companies also said they "periodically" share recall notices with their drivers and have a statement in their terms of service that says drivers should monitor and repair any open recalls. They didn't provide any information on how strictly – if at all – those rules are enforced.

The situation isn't much better for used cars. Carfax data shows that there are open recalls on 1 in 6 used vehicles for sale today in the U.S., about the same percentage found in rideshare cars. Surprisingly, there's no law requiring dealers to take care of recalls before selling used cars. They must, however, remedy outstanding recalls on any new cars before they sell them.