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The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

Buyer Beware When Buying a Used Car From CarMax

Mega used car dealership CarMax has had its share of complaints over the years. In fact, over 1,500 complaints were filed by consumers with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and over 800 complaints were filed with a branch of the Better Business Bureau between 2011 and 2014. In 2014, a coalition of 11 consumer safety organizations filed a petition with the FTC to request that it investigate the advertising practices of CarMax. Despite these consumer complaints, CarMax appears to continue to engage in deceptive advertising practices which result in consumers driving away in unsafe cars.

How Does CarMax Work?

This Richmond, VA-based used car dealership claims to offer car shoppers “clear and simple car buying and selling.” Using its network of dealerships all over the country, consumers can search for the exact used car they are looking for and, for a nonrefundable fee, CarMax will transfer the car to the customer’s closest dealership. CarMax also claims they conduct a thorough safety inspection of all used cars. It is this advertising claim that has gotten the used car dealer into trouble.

Open Safety Recalls

Many of the complaints from CarMax customers relate to the fact that, despite being “Quality Certified” and coming with a 30-day limited warranty, the Metal RECALL Signvehicles they purchased had open safety recalls, meaning that the manufacturer had issued a safety recall on the vehicle, but CarMax did not get the defect repaired. Recently, CarMax added a disclaimer on its website stating “Certain vehicles may have open safety recalls. Check with www.safercar.gov.” However, shoppers who do not see that disclaimer are often surprised when they discover they have purchased a car with an open safety recall. An investigation conducted by the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation in December of 2015 found that over 17 percent of the vehicles for sale at a Massachusetts CarMax had open safety recalls. While this is not illegal and CarMax now offers a “safety recall report” with its cars, it is important that buyers are aware of the potential safety issues involved with buying a car from CarMax. There is no guarantee that an individual CarMax dealership is, in fact, abiding by all relevant laws regarding auto fraud, so the term “Buyer beware” has never been more true.

Virginia just passed an amendment to VA Code 46.2-1569.  Now if a manufacturer advises a dealer not to sell a vehicle that is subject to a recall, the manufacturer must compensate the dealer for it's inability to sell these recalled cars.  Sounds fair, right?  However, this will incentivize manufacutrers to not advise dealers to sell vehicles with open recalls.  

Auto Fraud Attorneys in Virginia

If you feel that you were the victim of auto fraud at a CarMax dealership—or any other car dealership—contact the auto fraud attorneys at The Consumer Law Group, P.C.   We will tell you if you have a case and what your next step should be.