• CarMax Open Safety Recalls
  • November 21, 2017
  • CarMax is the leading used car franchise in the United States that prides itself on its commitment to selling safe automobiles. According to a recent study conducted by the Center for Auto Safety, the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation (CARS), and the MASSPIRG Education Foundation, over 25 percent of the vehicles for sale on CarMax lots have open safety recalls for dangerous and fatal defects.

    The study looked at 1,700 vehicles for sale on eight CarMax lots in California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut and found one in four vehicles on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recall list. Recalls on the 461 vehicles included faulty antilock brake systems, seatbelts with insufficient protection, airbags that fail to deploy in a crash, defective ignition switches, and engine mechanisms that have been known to erupt in flames.

    CarMax vs NHTSA

    In a 2015 survey, 12 percent of the vehicles on CarMax lots were under active safety recalls. The new study revealed that the practice not only continues, but has doubled in the amount of defective cars being sold. The NHTSA currently lacks the authority to force car dealerships to repair recalled vehicles before they are sold. In addition, a recent consent order issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allows used car retailers to advertise that their vehicles are safe, even when they are under an active recall. Retailers must inform their customers of the recall, but they are not obligated to fix the defects.

    In a recent statement, CarMax maintains they are transparent and inform customers of any open recalls on the vehicle at the time of sale. Customers are encouraged to contact an authorized dealership to have the defects repaired as soon as possible. The company also provides its customers with a link to the NHTSA website to check on the most recent information available on safety issues related to their purchase. CarMax also claims that they are not authorized to repair recalled vehicles. Manufacturers of the cars and trucks for sale on their lots establish relationships with authorized dealers to repair recalled automobiles. Since CarMax retailers lack this authorization, it cannot complete recall repairs or close out unrepaired safety recalls.

    CarMax vs CARS

    CARS safety advocates argue that CarMax could still have authorized dealers make the repairs before they sell the vehicles. CARS has recently filed a lawsuit against the FTC over their consent order allowing used car retailers like CarMax to market their vehicles as safe, despite being under an active recall. The case is currently pending, but the decision could affect the way CarMax and other used car dealerships advertise their merchandise in the future.

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