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Banff woman learns of safety recall after car catches fire on the road

WATCH: If you’re in the market for a new car, don’t forget to check for safety recalls. Here’s Tony Tighe on what can happen in you don’t check before you buy.

CALGARY – A Banff woman is speaking out about car safety defects after a used car she bought caught fire while she was driving.

Jessy Dufour bought a 1999 Dodge Stratus in a private sale in April, and a month later, she had a scary experience.

“I heard a weird noise, so I pulled over and all these people were rushing over to me and told me the whole bottom of my car was on fire. Then 10 minutes later the whole front of it was engulfed,” said Dufour.

After it was inspected, she found out there had been a safety recall for a part in the engine that could cause a fire hazard. That recall was issued 10 years ago, and was never fixed.

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“My car is too burnt to tell if it was from the power steering hose, but the fire did start in the engine, and 26,000 other Dodge Stratus’ did catch on fire the same way.”

Dufour says Chrysler won’t cover the damage, and claims they told her she had to check for outstanding recalls with a Chrysler dealer before she bought it.

Auto safety advocate Phil Edmonston says on average only 70 to 75 per cent of recalled vehicles actually get fixed.

Edmonston says there is no system for consumers to track which recalled cars have been fixed and which haven’t, but that’s something the U.S. government is trying to change after the recent string of auto recalls.

“They’re proposing legislation that there must be a kind of certificate of recall compliance that the seller gives you in order for you to get the vehicle registered, and that stops the problem right in its tracks,” said Edmonston.

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Manufacturers are required to issue public safety notices and check provincial auto registries to find recalled cars, but Edmonston says many people miss the alerts. He says it’s hard to find vehicles if they’ve been sold several times.

Dufour said she assumed Chrysler would be notified she was the new owner when she registered the car, but she won’t make the same mistake with her next purchase.

Transport Canada operates a Vehicle Recall Database where drivers can check on new and past safety defects. The department recommends anyone looking to buy a used vehicle searches it first.