Nearly a dozen car-safety groups, joined by a U.S. senator, are asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate CarMax, the biggest seller of used cars nationally. In a petition filed with the FTC on June 24, the groups allege that CarMax engages in deceptive advertising by claiming every vehicle it sells passes a rigorous 125-point inspection. The groups said the inspection fails to look at whether a car has been recalled and repaired. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated:
Car dealers shouldn’t sell used cars that have a safety recall to consumers, period. Far too many times we have seen the tragic and often fatal consequences when deficient cars are allowed on the road, and it’s time for the FTC to do everything it can to put a stop to it.
The petition comes at a time when automakers are recalling more cars than ever. Automakers have recalled more than 53 million vehicles in the U.S. in the last 18 months, or about 20 percent of all vehicles on the road. They have recalled more than 31 million so far this year, an annual record for the industry. Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento consumer advocacy nonprofit that spearheaded the petition, stated: “CarMax is playing recalled-used-car roulette with its customers’ lives.”
Though federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, no such restriction applies to used cars. Consumers for Auto Safety and Reliability pushed for California legislation that would prohibit dealers from selling used cars that have been recalled but not fixed, but the bill died in an Assembly committee in early June.
CarMax says that manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls. It says further that the manufacturers do not even grant independent auto dealers like CarMax access to their internal databases in order to search a manufacturer’s website. The company claims that the “system is broken.” CarMax says that recalls “should be taken seriously” and that it has advised buyers to register a vehicle with its manufacturer upon purchase so that they are contacted for “future recalls.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered automakers to provide safety recall data on their own websites, updated at least every seven days starting in August. Car owners would punch in the vehicle identification number of their car to access recall information. CarMax, based in Richmond, Va., sells about 500,000 used vehicles in the U.S. through its network of 130 stores. The company regularly sells vehicles that have been recalled, but not repaired.
The Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer Law Center and the Center for Auto Safety are among the groups that have signed the petition.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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