North Carolina Has Reached a Settlement with CarMax Over Vehicle Recalls

The settlement requires CarMax to disclose to inform customers if a vehicle has an open recall before its sold

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Image: Marta Lavandier (AP)

An open safety recall on a vehicle that’s been sold can be a dangerous thing. Depending on what the recall is for, the customer could be putting themselves in danger by buying the vehicle. And if anything were to happen it would all fall on the dealership for not disclosing it. The attorney general’s office of North Carolina has announced a settlement with the company that will require all open recalls to be disclosed to customers.

The office of North Carolina attorney general ​Josh Stein announced the settlement on December 1. As part of the settlement, CarMax has agreed to inform its customers of any open recalls on any of its vehicles before they purchase. A $1 million cash settlement will also be split between multiple states. North Carolina’s share of the settlement is just over $30,000.

Stein called the settlement a win for families, saying “I’m pleased that as a result of this settlement, CarMax will be upfront about potential vehicle safety and recall issues when North Carolinians are considering buying a used car from them. This information will help people to make the decision about the car that’s right for them.” This settlement is also a precedent for any other dealers that aren’t disclosing which vehicles they’re selling have open recalls.

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We’ve known for years that CarMax has been selling vehicles with open recalls. In 2017 a multi-pronged study found that one in four vehicles sold at CarMax had open safety recalls. The company responded by saying it had always been transparent in recall safety.

Update: This lawsuit concerned Carmax’s practices regarding open recalls that predate November 2014, so this is all a long time coming. The company reached out with a statement from its CEO Joe Wilson:

CarMax led the industry in recall transparency by sharing vehicle specific recall information in-store and online to ensure our customers know about open recalls prior to purchase. In fact, as soon as NHTSA made available vehicle specific recall information in 2014, we began providing the information to customers nationwide and we continue to do so today. As CarMax is not authorized by manufacturers to complete recall repairs and close out recalls, we work hard to ensure our customers have the information they need to take action and have recalls repaired at a manufacturer-authorized facility.