Requesting that the Federal Trade Commission launch an investigation, a coalition of 11 consumer groups claimed in a letter to the agency that CarMax puts lives in danger by deceptively advertising its inspection process and the condition of used cars it sells.
“It is inherently deceptive for an auto dealer to represent that its vehicles have passed a rigorous inspection, while failing to take even the most basic step of checking the vehicle’s safety recall status in order to identify known safety defects that have triggered a federal safety recall, and ensuring that the safety recall repairs have been performed, prior to selling the vehicle to a consumer,” groups such as Consumers Union, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Center for Auto Safety told the agency.
The nation’s largest retailer of used vehicles, CarMax claims that its vehicles are “CarMax Quality Certified” and have undergone a “rigorous 125+ point inspection.” The claims “lull car buyers into a false sense of security,” the groups said, despite the fact the company does not fix safety recalls prior to sale.
Citing safety concerns for consumers on the road in cars in need of repair, the letter noted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lacks authority over used-car dealers, leaving the FTC to take action. The groups asked that the agency investigate CarMax’s advertising and sales practices and reach out to consumers who purchased cars with pending safety recalls.
Joining in the effort, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent his own letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez to express his “grave concern” about the issue.
“Compounding safety risks with misleading and deceptive advertising and sales practices only further endangers the safety of used-car customers and everyone who shares the roads,” he wrote, adding that the agency should launch “a full-fledged investigation to determine whether other used-car dealers engage in similar practices.”
A spokesperson for CarMax said the company “provides the necessary information for customers to register their vehicle with the manufacturer to determine if it has an open recall and be notified about future recalls,” but that “automakers did not give retailers like CarMax the authority to carry out recalls at their facilities,” although “CarMax would like to see legislation that would make that possible.”
To read the petition to the FTC, click here.
To read Sen. Schumer’s letter, click here.
Why it matters: The timing of the petition could catch the attention of the FTC, given the current outcry over General Motors’ alleged feet-dragging with regard to vehicle recalls.