If you’re doing business with a car dealer that advertises 100-plus-point inspections for its used cars, you’d expect the dealer to make it clear if some of those cars had open recalls for safety defects, right?
Dealers should make it clear. But in the case of CarMax, West-Herr Automotive Group, and Asbury Automotive Group, they didn’t, the FTC alleges in complaints announced today. The FTC settled similar allegations against GM and two other dealers earlier this year.
Used car dealers aren’t required to — and sometimes can’t or don’t — fix manufacturer recalls on the cars they sell. But if they make claims touting their inspections, they need to clearly let people know about the possibility of recalls, so people can get them fixed or decide to buy another car. Under the settlements, the companies must stop making misleading claims about their recall-repair practices, and must notify recent customers who may have bought a used car subject to a recall.
Anytime you shop for a used car, make sure you check up on recalls:
Ask questions. Ask the dealer if the car you’re considering has a recall, and whether the dealer can and will fix it before you take the car home.
Check for yourself. Take down the VIN number of a car, and enter it at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall look-up website, safercar.gov. You also can get information to help you follow up with a manufacturer or dealer about a recall.
Check out the vehicle history report. The report will tell you about a car’s title, odometer, theft, or salvage history, and might also provide recall information. Ask the dealer — they’ll often provide a vehicle history report for free. For links to companies that sell the reports, go to vehiclehistory.gov.
by Amy Hebert
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC