Business & Real Estate

California groups say CarMax sells unsafe used vehicles

CarMax is holding a nationwide job fair Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, at 17 stores, including the automotive retailer’s south Sacramento location.
CarMax is holding a nationwide job fair Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, at 17 stores, including the automotive retailer’s south Sacramento location.

CarMax critics contend that the Virginia-based used-auto selling giant is selling unsafe cars to Californians, but CarMax insists that it offers loads of vehicle information, good and bad, to prospective auto purchasers.

Two Sacramento advocacy groups released a report on Wednesday citing what they called CarMax’s dangerous practices and called on state officials to investigate the auto seller’s in-state operations. Specifically, the groups targeted CarMax’s “sales of unrepaired, defective vehicles that are subject to federal safety recalls.”

The report, “CarMax’s Sales Practices Endanger Lives in California,” was released by the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety foundation during a morning media briefing in front of the state attorney general’s office in Sacramento.

The report focused on data obtained from two CarMax stores, one in Oxnard and the “Sacramento South” CarMax at 8185 E. Stockton Blvd.

CALPIRG and CARS called on Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate CarMax practices regarding “advertising and sales of unrepaired recalled cars, and take all appropriate action.”

“CarMax is playing recalled car roulette with its customers’ lives and endangering the safety of others who share the roads,” said Rosemary Shahan, CARS president.

In an extensive statement from its Richmond, Va., headquarters, CarMax said the data cited in the report is based on information readily provided by CarMax to prospective buyers.

“CarMax is committed to providing the most transparent car buying experience in the industry,” the statement read. “To ensure our customers are well informed about recalls, CarMax provides vehicle-specific information about open recalls to every retail customer prior to purchasing a used vehicle from our stores.”

The company statement also noted that CarMax online shoppers can link to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and “obtain open recall information on any CarMax used vehicle.”

Shahan characterized that as a dangerous way of doing businesses, noting that other industries, including food, decline to sell recalled products.

Citing information that CALPIRG obtained from the CarMax store on Stockton Boulevard, the report released Wednesday said “approximately 9 percent of all cars recently offered for sale at that location had an unrepaired federal safety recall.”

The report said 34 of 386 vehicles for sale at a local CarMax on May 26-27 were subject to safety recalls. The report listed defects including engines that could stall, possible air bag failure, worn parts, key systems failures and bad electrical connections.

At the CarMax store in Oxnard, 46 of 455 vehicles for sale on May 20-21 were subject to federal safety recalls, according to the report.

CarMax, a Fortune 500 company that bills itself as the nation’s largest retailer of used vehicles, currently operates 147 stores in 75 markets.

CarMax also operates a store at 1450 Eureka Road in Roseville.