Can Used Cars Be Sold if They Contain Defects Under Recall?

Does your vehicle have an unfixed recall?CarMax has been accused of selling used vehicles with unfixed safety recalls. According to a report compiled by the CARS Foundation, the Center for Auto Safety and the MASSPIRG Education Fund, one in four CarMax vehicles could have unrepaired defects. The report analyzed 1,699 vehicles sold at eight CarMax dealerships in three states.

CarMax is a chain of used car dealerships with lots located across the country, including nine in North Carolina. Dealerships can sell used vehicles with unfixed recalls. Under federal law, new cars cannot be sold with unfixed recalls.

Customers shopping for used cars may be unaware that they are buying unsafe vehicles. Used vehicles with unfixed recalls are often advertised as “safe”. CarMax advertises its vehicles as safe, but this new report suggests that claim is misleading.

Of the 1,699 vehicles that were assessed for the report, 45 contained deadly Takata airbags. These airbags are at the center of the largest recall in US history and are linked to 18 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. Takata airbags explode with excessive force. Drivers and their passengers can be injured or killed when the inflators that house the airbags burst into pieces of fast-moving shrapnel.

Other vehicles in the report allegedly contained multiple unfixed recalls. For instance, a GMC Sierra mentioned in the report had six unfixed recalls, some of which could lead to catastrophic injuries or death. Another 19 vehicles had three or more unfixed recalls. These vehicles do not sound very safe, right?

CarMax claims that it informs customers of recalls before vehicles are purchased. But if CarMax is advertising its vehicles as “safe”, would that not create confusion?

How Can I Check for Recalls While Shopping for a Used Car?

Although CarMax claims it informs customers of recalls, you should not take them at their word. Just because a company policy exists does not mean it will always be followed by employees – especially employees who must meet a sales quota to keep their jobs.

If you are shopping for a used car, then you should always punch the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) into www.safercar.gov. This website may tell you if the vehicle you want has an unfixed recall. You can typically find the VIN on the driver’s side dashboard. If that does not work, then try asking someone who works at the dealership. Newly announced recalls may not be listed on safercar.gov, so that is something to keep in mind.

If you or a loved one are harmed by a defective vehicle, then it is possible the dealership could be liable for injuries or wrongful death. This could also be true if a rental car company knowingly allowed you to drive an unsafe vehicle. In these cases, you should always speak with an attorney to discuss possible legal options.

At Riddle & Brantley, LLP, Justice Counts.



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