• FOX13 Investigates: Could rideshare vehicles be putting passengers, other drivers at risk?

    By: Lauren Coleman

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Millions of Americans use popular rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to get from point A to point B, but just how safe are they?

    According to Carfax, more than 57 million recalled vehicles are currently in use across the county.

    This means there is a defect the manufacturer has identified that can be fixed for free. 

    According to the company, one in four cars on Memphis area roads has an open recall which is a large number that equates to nearly 350,000 vehicles. 

    Uber and Lyft are popular rideshare services millions of Americans use to get to from point A to point B, making them among the thousands of vehicles with open recalls on Mid-South roads. 

    They’re cars passengers are trusting blindly to get them where they need to go.


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    Chris Basso from Carfax joined FOX13 at Memphis International Airport to find rideshares that could potentially put drivers and passengers in danger. 

    “Fires, exploding airbags, increased risk of crash, real safety issues that not only put passengers of those recalled vehicles at risk, but other people on the road as well because if that recall fails while the car is being driven then you’ve got a major catastrophe on your hands,” Basso said. 

    Carfax created the My Carfax App to help notify car owners of these issues. 

    “It’s a free app for your mobile device that allows you to save up to eight vehicles using just the license plate and getting notified about recalls that are on your car right now that need attention,” Basso said. 

    FOX13 put the app to the test by running the license plates of dozens of Uber and Lyft vehicles at the airport’s rideshare pickup and drop off location. 

    The results were shocking. 

    One driver had a recall notice for an engine wire harness for the hybrid power unit which could potentially cause a vehicle fire if it goes unfixed. 

    Surprisingly, the driver drove off after hearing what we found on the App. 

    FOX13 asked Basso if he was surprised by the owner’s reaction. 

    “Very surprised because this is all about safety,” Basso said. “We’re trying to keep them safe and notify them about recalls that they may not know about and especially when you’re dealing with potential vehicle fires lives are at risk.” 

    Several passengers FOX13 talked to weren’t aware that the cars they were getting into could have safety issues. 

    “Typically, the Ubers we’ve been in are newer and the owners seem really responsible and we’ve commented on their car and ask them what they think of their car,” one passenger said. 

    FOX13 found that the age and model of the car didn’t make a difference. 

    Some of the recalls FOX13 found were: 

    • A 2017 Dodge Durango with a recall on a piece of software 
    • A 2012 Ford Fusion with a recall on the power steering control module 
    • A 2010 Toyota Corolla with three open recalls. One on the engine brake system, passenger airbag, and the power window master switch. 

    “Well we’ve seen the rideshare vehicles, our data suggest there may be an increase number of cars with open recalls verses the typical passenger car the average person is driving,” Basso said. 

    “The other danger is that most people aren’t checking for recalls especially when they’re putting them and their families in those vehicles.”  

    FOX13 found it’s simple to check if an Uber or Lyft vehicle has an open recall by using the tag number listed on the rideshare app once a ride is requested. 

    FOX13 reached out to Uber and Lyft to find out if drivers were required to fix open recalls. 

    Both companies said in email statements they encourage drivers to get recalls fixed: 

    "We provide resources to driver-partners and encourage them to check for recalls and to perform routine maintenance. Please see this blog.

    Uber driver-partners receive quarterly reminders to stay up-to-date on current NHTSA vehicle recall information by visiting safercar.gov and signing up for safety recall notifications here.

    We have joined the U.S. Department of Transportation’s bi-annual efforts to raise awareness about the importance of periodically checking for active recalls. However, the underlying issue is the overall recall completion rate is low and addressing this requires a much larger solution to get the average driver to take action - and we’re committed to doing our part.” –Carly DeBeikeks, Policy & Communications 

    “Lyft drivers use their personal vehicles to drive on the platform - the same car they use in their daily lives, driving their kids to school or friends around town. Drivers have a strong personal incentive to make sure their car is in a safe operating condition.

    Drivers make a continuous representation that that their vehicle meets the industry safety standards and all applicable state department of motor vehicle requirements for a vehicle of its kind.” – Campbell Mathews, Communications Manager 

    The next time someone hops into a rideshare they could be like a pair of riders FOX13 talked to that were getting into a vehicle with a recall o n the passenger airbag. 

    “We’ll be in the backseat, so hopefully we’ll be ok,” the passenger said.  “So, we’re going to take our chances.” 

    Drivers can also use the vehicle’s VIN as well as the license plate to check to see what open recalls their vehicle may have. 

    Basso also told FOX13 trucks and SUVs count for majority of the vehicles with recalls in the state of Tennessee. 

    He also said that most recalls only take but an hour or two to fix. 

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