What a settlement between Maryland’s Attorney General and CarMax means for car buyers

A legal settlement will require CarMax, Inc. to let Maryland consumers know the recall status of a vehicle before making a purchase.

The settlement was announced by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown’s office Monday.

The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office alleged that CarMax’s “failure to disclose the recall status” of vehicles for sale amounted to “an unfair and deceptive trade practice” in violation of the state’s consumer protection act.

CarMax advertises “CarMax Certified Quality” of the vehicles it sells and states on its website that “125+” details are inspected on each vehicle.

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office did say in its release that once the Consumer Protection Division began its investigation into CarMax’s claims about quality inspections, the company began including information regarding each vehicle’s recall status.

On its website, CarMax notes that “anything that doesn’t meet our standards is repaired or replaced by our highly trained technicians,” but goes on to state “some cars have unrepaired safety recalls. Learn more.”

The website includes a hyperlink to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which carries out vehicle safety programs and has information about vehicle recalls.

In the statement announcing the settlement, the Maryland Attorney General’s office advises consumers to look up the recall status “of any car that they are considering purchasing” by visiting the NHTSA website.

Brown’s office said the settlement requires CarMax to pay $240,000.

Joe Wilson, chief operating officer for CarMax, said in an email to WTOP that the settlement “remains consistent with CarMax’s longstanding practices.”

“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,” Wilson said.

“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.”

A CarMax spokesperson clarified that the company has been educating consumers on the topic since 2014, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made centralized safety recall information available.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that COO Joe Wilson said the company had agreed to pay $240,000. That information originated with the attorney general’s news release, not Wilson.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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