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U.S. Senator Accuses CarMax of Selling Cars with Lethal Safety Defects

Aug 26, 2015

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says the used car dealer CarMax is selling recalled cars with lethal safety defects and Blumenthal wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to crack down on the company.

"CarMax advertises that all its vehicles must pass a rigorous '125 point inspection,' but no inspection that routinely ignores outstanding safety recalls can be called 'rigorous,'" Blumenthal said, according to television station WFSB. "Regardless of whether they are buying a new or used car, all consumers deserve to know they are buying a safe car."

Blumenthal, the senior U.S. Senator from Connecticut, said an investigation by the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation found that CarMax dealerships in Hartford and East Haven offered 74 cars with safety issues. The sales occurred during two 24-hour periods in July and August, according to Connecticut television station WFSB. The defects included airbags that may not inflate, short circuits that could cause electrical fires, child safety seat anchors that may fail to latch, and faulty fuel pumps that can cause engines to shut off unexpectedly, according to Blumenthal. "CarMax should not be allowed to make Connecticut, or any other state, a dumping ground for unsafe recalled vehicles with potentially lethal safety defects," said Evan Preston, executive director of ConnPIRG, the state's Public Interest Research Group.

Other consumer advocates accuse CarMax of playing roulette with its customers' lives. Rosemary Shahan, president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation, said CarMax's actions put “everyone who shares the roads at risk," according to WFSB. CarMax told Eyewitness News that it has a commitment to recall transparency and it provides information about open recalls prior to selling a vehicle. "CarMax was founded to fundamentally change the way Americans buy used cars," the company said in a statement. "For more than 20 years, CarMax has dedicated itself to providing customers with a straightforward, transparent car-buying experience that is based on integrity." The company said car owners have recently had to deal with an unprecedented number of vehicle recalls.

CarMax said it provides vehicle-specific information about open recalls to every retail customer before a sale is made. CarMax said customers can access National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) information through Prospective customers can obtain pertinent recall information by entering the vehicle's identification number. The company said a sales associate reviews that information with prospective customers and the customer signs a form acknowledging receipt of the information. But CarMax notes that 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. This means that manufacturers have not authorized CarMax to complete recall repairs.

Blumenthal has introduced the Used Car Safety Recall Repair Act, legislation that would make it a violation of a federal law for car dealers to fail to repair any recalled vehicles before selling or leasing them, WFSB reports.

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