Auto safety and other consumer groups petition the FTC to take action against CarMax for claiming its used cars are safe, but failing to fix safety recalls before marketing them

Eleven auto safety and other consumer groups have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asking the agency to take enforcement action against the major national used-car seller CarMax. The groups say that CarMax claims its cars go through a rigorous safety inspection but that, in fact, CarMax does not fix defects that are the subject of regulatory safety recalls. The petitioners include Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of American, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and U.S. PIRG. The beginning of the groups' petition provides a nice summary:

The non-profit consumer organizations listed above submit this petition, seeking enforcement action by the Federal Trade Commission, to curb CarMax's deceptive advertising and sales practices, which endanger the lives of their customers, their families, other passengers, and everyone who shares the roads. CarMax is the nation's largest retailer of used vehicles. According to CarMax, it has sold more than 4 million cars. CarMax advertises on its website, on television, in newspapers, and at its dealerships that each of the used vehicles it offers for sale are “CarMax Quality Certified” and has undergone a rigorous, “125+ point inspection.” However, CarMax fails to ensure that safety recalls are performed prior to selling used cars to consumers. The New York Times recently reported that “CarMax, the nation's largest seller of used cars, offers a “Certified Quality Inspection,” which does not include fixing [safety] recalls."

Here is what the groups ask the FTC to do:

[I]nvestigate CarMax's advertising and sales practices and take all appropriate and necessary action in order to curb CarMax from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to the public. In addition to any other remedies or penalties that may be appropriate, we also urge the FTC to:

[1] Obtain VIN-specific information regarding the safety recall status of vehicles CarMax has already sold to the public, and release that information to the public

[2] Notify the owners of vehicles sold by CarMax that had safety recalls pending at the time of sale

[3] Enjoin CarMax from engaging in such irresponsible and reckless practices in the future

Read the groups' press release, the New York Times article discussed in the petition, and an article by LA Times reporter Jerry Hirsch.

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