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Consumer Groups Allege CarMax Sells Unfixed Recalled Cars

Several consumer safety groups are asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate CarMax’s sale of unfixed recalled cars. Their petition to the FTC alleges that the leading used car seller misleads consumers by touting a rigorous, “125+ point inspection,” but yet failing to check the vehicles’ recall status.

According to the petition, “It is inherently deceptive for an auto dealer to represent that its vehicles have passed a rigorous inspection, while failing to take even the most basic step of checking the vehicle’s safety recall status in order to identify known safety defects that have triggered a federal safety recall, and ensuring that the safety recall repairs have been performed, prior to selling the vehicle to a consumer.”

As we have previously stated on this San Diego Injury blog, federal laws regarding recalled vehicles only apply to the sale of new cars. Therefore, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) cannot require sellers of used cars to remedy defects prior to sale.

Legislation is currently pending in California that would prohibit car dealers from selling used vehicles with unfixed safety recalls. However, its passage remains uncertain.

To protect consumers, the groups urge the FTC to use its authority over deceptive advertising to:

  • Obtain VIN-specific information regarding the safety recall status of vehicles CarMax has already sold to the public, and release that information to the public;
  • Notify the owners of vehicles sold by CarMax that had safety recalls pending at the time of sale; and
  • Enjoin CarMax from engaging in such irresponsible and reckless practices in the future.

The FTC has not yet indicated if it plans to take action. We will be closely following this issue and will provide updates as they become available.