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Millions of recalled cars still may be on the road with unfixed issues

Millions of cars may have issues linked to recalls
Millions of cars on the road may have issues linked to recalls 02:10

WASHINGTON -- There are new questions about a tragic accident Indiana last month when a 24-year-old man died after pulling his 3-year-old daughter from a car that rolled into frigid pond. Now we're learning that type of car had a recall for a defect that could cause it roll away, even if the driver put it in park.

Even though he couldn't swim, Anthony Burgess raced into the water and freed his daughter Amina from a sinking 2008 Pontiac G6. Burgess had left the car running when he got out to see a friend.  

"She said, 'My daddy got me out of the water but he couldn't get out,'" said Kelly Jordan, a relative. "That was something that she said."

The investigation is ongoing, but police are looking into the possibility the little girl somehow shifted the car out of park, which should have required a foot on the brake.

A 2014 recall for "transmission shift cable fractures" CBS News

Department of Transportation records show the car never received repairs identified in a 2014 recall for "transmission shift cable fractures." That could lead to the car not shifting into park properly, creating "a risk the vehicle will roll away." Police are investigating to see if the unrepaired recall was a factor in this accident.

But Carfax estimates more than 57 million vehicles on U.S. roads right now have open, unfixed recalls. That's more than one in five.

"Any of these things are only being recalled because one, they're dangerous, or two, they're violating a federal standard," said Jason Levine, who runs the Center for Auto Safety.

We asked him if car makers are doing enough to fix recalled vehicles.

"They could certainly be doing more," Levine said. "More in terms of reaching out to people to make sure that they are aware that the recall is happening and also working harder to report how successful they are in terms of reaching those people."

General Motors says it did send a letter to owners about the recall. The last update on the recall was posted in 2016. Of the more than 1.1 million vehicles affected, only about 54 percent were fixed. Recall repairs are free -- you can check your vehicle's VIN of open recalls online.

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