Safety Groups want Used Car Dealers to Stop Selling Cars that have been Recalled but not Repaired

(Aired 7/10/2014 on NY1 & Time Warner Cable News stations)

Car-safety groups say they want used car dealerships like CarMax to stop selling vehicles that have been recalled but not repaired, and they’re asking the federal government to investigate. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

An unsuspecting used car buyer could easily drive off a lot in a recalled vehicle that hasn’t been fixed. That’s because there is no state or federal law that requires auto dealers to fix safety recalls of used cars, or even tell a potential buyer about it.

A coalition of consumer groups is trying to change that, with support from New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. They’re targeting CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, with a petition filed with the Federal Trade Commission. They say the company’s advertising, which promotes a “rigorous 125-point” inspection, is deceptive.

“How can you do an inspection without checking the recall work?” said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

The effort comes as automakers are recalling more cars than ever, more than 31 million so far this year.

CarMax says it doesn’t have permission from car manufacturers to service recalls at its facilities. The company says it supports federal legislation that would make that possible.

“CarMax knows that that is never going to pass, that manufacturers and franchised car dealers have a system set up that’s been in operation since the 1960s,” Shahan said.

CarMax executives wouldn’t speak to us on camera, but in a written statement, the company defended its practices, saying, in part, “Because there is no national individualized recall database and notices are only sent to registered owners, the customer is in the best position under the current system to learn about recalls and get the vehicle repaired.”

“I think CarMax is trying to shift the responsibility onto consumers
when, at the same time, they’re saying, ‘Trust us because we’re the professionals, and they can’t have it both ways,” Shahan said.

Here’s the bottom line: If you are in the market to buy a pre-owned car, either from CarMax or another used car dealer, it’s up to you to check for any safety recalls. To do so, search the manufacturer’s website or click this link.

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