Blumenthal; CarMax playing car recall roulette

This Feb. 27, 2013 file photo shows Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Is the state’s largest retailer of used cars selling potential death traps? An investigation into the used cars offered for sale in Connecticut by Car-Max concludes that more than 10 percent of the vehicles offered to the public had outstanding, unrepaired recalls.

This report concludes that in July and August 16 percent of the cars offered for sale by CarMax in East Haven and 10 percent of the cars offered for sale by CarMax in Hartford had unrepaired safety defects despite their highly touted 125 point safety checks.
The investigation by the ‘Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation’ found that 74 of the cars they offered
for sale in recent weeks at the two Connecticut locations had potentially lethal safety defects because of unrepaired
factory recalls.  “What’s happening in Connecticut is happening all over the country where CarMax and other dealers are knowingly and deliberately selling cars with lethal safety defects,” said Foundation President Rosemary Shahan.

Shahan says those unrepaired recalls include the exploding airbags, the GM ignition switch defect, seat belt and seat and hood malfunction recalls. In a statement CarMax says this information is not hidden from buyers and that they “Provide vehicle-specific information about open recalls to every retail customer prior to purchasing a used vehicle.”

The Connecticut Public Interest Research Group says that this isn’t enough especially considering that some recalls are because of an engine fire danger.  “A car catching on fire is not ‘small print’ in someone’s life. This should not be allowed to reamin on the market as something that people can fall victim to,” said Evan Preston of CONPIRG.
“CarMax is playing a deadly game of used car recall roulette with consumers’ lives,” added Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Connecticut)

CarMax says they urge buyers to go to auto dealers and get the recalls fixed but Senator Blumenthal says that is not nearly enough, “If they were new cars they could not be sold with those defects but the present law permits used cars to be sold with these defects without repairs.”

Blumenthal is asking the Federal Trade Commission to forbid these kinds of sales and sponsoring federal legislation to make it against the law.

CarMax says that because they are technically a competitor, the auto dealers will simply put them at the end of the line for these repairs and that consumers will get faster service.

Here’s a link to the complete report;

Here is CarMax’s complete response;

CarMax’s Commitment to Recall Transparency
CarMax Provides Consumers with Information About Open Recalls Prior to Sale

CarMax was founded to fundamentally change the way Americans buy used cars. For more than 20 years, CarMax has dedicated itself to providing customers with a straightforward, transparent car-buying experience that is based on integrity.

Drivers across the country recently have been forced to deal with an unprecedented number of manufacturer recalls. It is an issue that deserves all of our attention.

CarMax Provides Customers with VIN-Specific Recall Information
CarMax is committed to providing the most transparent car buying experience in the industry. To ensure our customers are well informed about recalls, CarMax provides vehicle-specific information about open recalls to every retail customer prior to purchasing a used vehicle from our stores.

Because many of our customers visit us first at or on our mobile site or app, every vehicle on includes a link to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) VIN lookup website, with the VIN pre-populated, allowing customers to obtain open recall information on any CarMax used vehicle.

Before any customer purchases a used vehicle, a CarMax associate and the customer review the vehicle’s NHTSA VIN-specific recall report. After this initial review, customers sign a form acknowledging receipt of this NHTSA recall report with their sales documents. We recommend that our customers register their vehicle with the manufacturer and urge them to have open recalls fixed immediately following purchase.

Open Recalls Can Only Be Cleared at a Manufacturer-Authorized Facility
The current recall system is based on the manufacturer’s relationship with its dealers and registered vehicle owners, and not with independent used auto retailers, like CarMax. Among other things, this means that manufacturers have not authorized CarMax to complete recall repairs and close out recalls.

Our experience shows us customers are in the best position to act on recall information directly with a manufacturer-authorized dealer. We have found that dealers are often more likely to provide timely recall repair to customers rather than to a competitor, like CarMax, so we encourage customers to have recalls repaired at a manufacturer-authorized facility.

CarMax is built on integrity – and has been recognized nationally for this commitment. Ninety five percent of our purchasers say they would recommend us to family and friends. We believe this continued loyalty is due to the straightforward and transparent car buying experience that we continue to provide. (step by step video of recall disclosure process) (infographic outline the recall process)

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