Consumers for Auto
Reliability and Safety ®

The C.A.R.S. Foundation

Greedy Car Dealers Sell Hazardous, Defective Recalled Cars
Some victims have been severely injured or killed
BEWARE: Your family's safety is at risk
Greedy car dealers threaten lives, downplay the risks posed
by deadly safety recalls
Don't be tricked into buying a deathtrap on wheels
When car dealers want to make a killing by selling you a dangerously defective car at top dollar, can you trust them to tell you the truth about how hazardous it is?

Nope. Car dealers know that if you are aware how serious the safety recall defects are, chances are very good you won't buy that car, and that would cut into their profits.

So if a car dealer tells you anything at all about the safety recall defects, they usually try to trick you into thinking they're nothing to worry about. Just something minor. But don't fall for it. In reality, safety recall defects are often deadly. They injure and kill car buyers and their children, other family members, and other victims at an alarming rate.

But that doesn't stop car dealers from seeking to profit from selling the hazardous cars without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.
CarMax: Multi-billion $$ Scamster

CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. It's a multi-billion $$ company that routinely sells vast numbers of hazardous recalled cars and has some of the worst practices in the used car industry.
In a shocking video, CarMax's former CEO / current Board President Tom Folliard minimizes the risks posed by safety recalls, while speaking at a public forum hosted by Florida Tech that included many college students, who are at high risk of being injured or killed in a car crash. In fact, for most of them, a car crash is the most likely cause of death for their age group.

After boasting about his lucrative career at CarMax, Folliard (estimated net worth: "at least $125 million") took questions from the audience. When asked about how CarMax handles safety recalls, his response was stunningly reckless and misleading.

First, he said that because CarMax is not a manufacturer, they can't fix safety recalls.

Is that true? Yes and no. It's true that CarMax isn't a manufacturer. But it's false to say that means that CarMax can't get safety recalls fixed. All CarMax has to do, is hire some more employees to take the recalled cars to nearby dealerships that are authorized by the manufacturer to perform safety recall repairs. And get this: the repairs are free, for at least 15 years from when the recall was issued. So there's really no excuse for CarMax to neglect this vitally important step, especially when they advertise that all their vehicles must pass a rigorous inspection. They're just too cheap to hire enough employees to do the job.

Worst of all, Folliard downplayed the risks posed by safety recall defects, telling the audience:

"Many of them are not really safety issues, they're just open recalls. But because of all the consumer movement around it, they're all considered safety recalls."

Is that true? NO!!!
Let's look at the facts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ALL safety recall defects are serious.
Tragically, unrepaired safety recall defects continue to cause thousands of horrific, debilitating injuries and kill people.

Typical safety recall defects include:
  • catching on fire - some people have burned to death
  • loss of steering, including steering wheels that literally come off in the driver's hands
  • faulty brakes that can cause a crash
  • sticking accelerator pedals that cause cars to speed out of control
  • seat belts that fail to work when they're needed in a crash
  • child safety seat latches that come undone in a crash
  • Takata airbags that explode with excessive force and propel metal shrapnel into drivers' and passengers' face, neck and torso, often causing blindness or bleeding to death
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about the hazards posed by unrepaired auto safety recalls

"Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety. Car manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recalled tens of millions of vehicles in each of the last several years for defects that pose significant safety risks to consumers. In 2015, for example, recalls affected 51 million vehicles nationwide. And defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers."

Source: Statement of the Federal Trade Commission Concerning Auto Recall Advertising Cases (December 15, 2016)
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns: "Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety."
Mike Jackson --- New 10-16-14
Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, talks candidly about safety recalls.   Source: Tramel33166 at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Who else warns about how dangerous safety recalls are? It isn't only government officials and safety experts. It's also industry insiders, such as the CEO of CarMax's #1 competitor, AutoNation, the largest new car dealership chain in the U.S.
Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, told Automotive News:

"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers."
-- AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, quoted in Automotive News, "Used-Car Loophole Tightens up," February 8, 2016.
Mother of three almost killed after dealer sells her an unrepaired
recalled minivan
LaQuata Williams with her three children and one of their playmates.
When LaQuata Williams went shopping for a minivan at a car dealership in Kansas, she explained that she has three children and she needed a vehicle that was safe and reliable. The dealer told her that a 2002 Ford Windstar was just what she was looking for. What he didn't tell her almost cost her and her boyfriend their lives.

Soon after she bought the minivan, she heard a popping noise in the rear. She took it back to the dealer repeatedly for repairs to fix the noise. But the dealer insisted that the Windstar was perfectly safe.

About three months after she bought the minivan, she was driving on the freeway with her boyfriend, going about 65 mph, when the axle broke. Suddenly she lost steering and the Windstar spun out and flipped over, nearly killing LaQuata and her boyfriend. Fortunately, her children weren't in the car, and both LaQuata and her boyfriend were wearing their seat belts. "It's a miracle we weren't severely injured or killed," she said.
A dealer sold this used Ford Windstar to LaQuata Williams without getting the FREE safety recall repairs done, to repair the faulty axle. She and a friend were nearly killed when the axle broke and the van flipped over on the freeway.
This broken axle in a recalled Ford Windstar nearly cost LaQuata Williams and her boyfriend their lives.
The next day, LaQuata learned that Ford Windstars had been recalled due to breaking axles. She obtained the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for her Windstar and contacted Ford.

The manufacturer said that there were two safety recalls pending -- including for the axle breaking. Carfax also noted the pending safety recalls in its report on her Windstar.

Ms. Williams hired Kansas City attorney Bryce Bell to represent her in litigation against the dealership that sold her the hazardous Windstar, and failed to fix get the recall repairs done. They eventually settled the matter. She also testified for passage of legislation in California to help protect others from being victimized by car dealers who neglect to fix recalled cars with potentially deadly safety recall defects.

Chicago SunTimes
"Consumers, Beware:
Used car dealers are selling vehicles despite open recalls"
February 2, 2019
By Stephanie Zimmerman
"On October 2016, Corey Jackson was at a used car lot in South Chicago Heights, signing the papers to buy a 2008 Buick LaCrosse.

He was excited about the leather interior, sunroof and heated seats — but he didn't know that the used car was the subject of a safety recall because of problems with an ignition switch defect already implicated in 124 deaths nationwide.

The used car salesperson didn't mention the recall, Jackson says.

And because the Markham man bought the car used, he never got a notice from the manufacturer, General Motors.

Seven months later, on May 16, 2017, Jackson was driving home from work at WeatherTech, the car floor liner manufacturer, when he tried to pass a car on Bluff Road in Lockport Township. He sped up but quickly abandoned the attempt because another car was coming toward him from the opposite direction on the two-lane road. Suddenly, his car veered off the road and onto the grass, crashing into a tree.

The ignition switch had failed, Jackson's attorneys say, suddenly shutting off the engine and cutting power to the steering wheel, brakes and airbags.

Jackson was knocked unconscious in the crash. He was wearing a seat belt. But, with no inflated airbag, he slammed into the steering wheel. He lost several teeth and broke his jaw. The 37-year-old still walks with a limp from injuries to his hip and a knee and a broken ankle.

Now, Jackson is suing GM and the dealer that sold him the car, FJH Cars Inc. of South Chicago Heights, blaming them for putting him in harm's way with a defective car that was under recall the day he bought it.

"Nothing was said, nothing about a recall," Jackson says. "You feel deceived."
Corey Jackson's crash highlights an issue with the nation's automotive recall system. | Max Herman / Sun-Times.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times. © 2019 Sun-Times Media. All rights reserved. Used under license.
. . . .
Some consumers have fared better in state courts, where they can sue under state laws that more broadly address the sale of defective products.

Corey Jackson, who couldn't work after his accident yet still owed payments on the totaled Buick, says he wishes his recalled car had never been put out for sale.

"It cost me my lifestyle, my job — damn near my life," Jackson says. "Just value the person and not just the sale."

Read More: Chicago Sun-Times: Used car dealers are selling vehicles despite open recalls

"On the Road Again, Despite Dangerous Defects"
"Used cars often sold with dangerous defects"
Checkbook Magazine
By Anthony Giorgianni
"Lisa Shelton of Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., fell in love with the black 2005 Infiniti FX35 on a used-car lot in June 2019. She purchased it for about $7,000, but she had no idea the SUV was one of more than 400,000 vehicles recalled by Nissan in May 2016. The problem: A passenger-side Takata airbag that could eject metal fragments during an accident, injuring her, her family, or others. And she didn't know that the potentially deadly airbag - never replaced by previous owners - remained installed in her car.

The dealer told her the vehicle had been inspected by its repair shop, showing her a clean car history report from the federal government's National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) - which doesn't include open-recall information in its reports.

'I'm sick to my stomach,' said Shelton, who unknowingly put her daughters, husband, and self at risk while driving the car. She even taught her 17-year-old to drive in the Infiniti. 'I was completely blown away. I had no clue that was something I had to worry about.'

A greedy car dealer sold Lisa Shelton and her family an unrepaired recalled Infiniti with the same safety defect that cost Stephanie Erdman the sight in her right eye.
Colin Welsh, Shelton's attorney, said he doesn't know whether the dealer was aware of the outstanding recall, but that it had a responsibility to check before selling it. 'I think it's irresponsible and negligent for any dealer to sell a vehicle with an open recall.'

Think this is an unusual case? It's not.

Between 2010 and 2018, automakers in the U.S. recalled 238 million cars and light trucks due to unsafe defects. Manufacturers issue recalls for dangerous problems: Brakes that can fail, engines that can catch fire, airbags that injure or kill, doors that might fling open unexpectedly.

But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one-fourth of recalled rides go unrepaired. Many end up on used-car lots where they're often resold by dealers that haven't addressed the recalls or informed buyers about them....

In September 2020, Carfax estimated that 57 million vehicles—or one in five—have at least one outstanding recall.

Many of these autos eventually make their way into the used-car market. Carfax estimates that at least one in six used vehicles for sale in the U.S. have one or more unresolved recalls.
Our researchers selected 10 vehicle models manufactured between 2010 and 2019 with previous recalls...We found 227 of the 600 automobiles—nearly 40 percent of them—had at least one problem subject to a recall that hadn't yet been addressed, according to the NHTSA's database.

The most egregious example was a 2011 Hyundai Sonata we found advertised on by a used-car dealer in St. Paul, Minn. It had five unresolved recalls to address problems that could affect the proper operation of the vehicle's airbags, seatbelts, and brake lights; could allow the car to roll away with the transmission in "park"; and cause engine failure while the car is moving.

That hardly seems like a car you'd want to own—or have on the road at all.

Read more: Checkbook Magazine: On the Road Again, Despite Dangerous Defects. Used cars often sold with dangerous defects.

Defective Takata airbag involved in death of man from Lancaster
CarMax, AutoNation, and other auto dealerships routinely sell dangerously defective recalled cars without bothering to get the deadly Takata airbags replaced before foisting them off on used car buyers and their families.

Sometimes, it's not the vehicle owners who are injured or killed, but their passengers, relatives, or friends.
  Rekeyon Barnette was only 35 years old when he was killed by the defective Takata airbag in an unrepaired recalled Honda that was owned by a friend of his. Photo credit: WCNC News
According to news reports, police say 35-year old Rekeyon Barnette died in a car crash on Jan. 9. A defective recalled Takata airbag in the 2002 Honda Accord he was driving deployed in the steering wheel, propelling metal shrapnel that "caused severe trauma to [his] lower face that eventually led to his death."

Honda told reporters that Mr. Barnette was not the registered owner of the car.
  Car dealers fail to value human life enough to get FREE repairs to fix deadly safety recall defects, like the exploding Takata airbag that claimed Rekeyon Barnette's life. Photo credit: WCNC News
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "As of January 2021, approximately 67 million inflators are under recall for nineteen affected vehicle manufacturers, of which approximately 50 million have been repaired or are otherwise accounted for.... [But] Seventeen million inflators have yet to be repaired or otherwise accounted for.

Unrepaired air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injury or even death. Eighteen people in the United States have been killed by defective Takata air bags, and reports suggest that more than 400 have been injured."

Watch news report -- Briana Harper, reporting. WCNC Charlotte, SC: "Lancaster man dies in crash involving recalled Takata airbag"

Father drowns saving 3-year-old daughter from recalled Pontiac G6
Indiana father Anthony Burgess' three-year-old daughter is alive today because of her father's bravery, rescuing her from an icy retention pond after a defective recalled Pontiac G-6 with a faulty transmission slid into the icy waters, with her inside. But tragically, after handing his daughter to a bystander who grabbed her, he slipped below the water and drowned.
24-year-old Anthony Burgess drowned saving his 3-year-old daughter Amina, after an unrepaired recalled Pontiac G6 rolled into an icy pond, with Amina inside.   Source: CBS This Morning.
The Pontiac was one of more than 1.1 million vehicles General Motors recalled in 2014 because of a defect in the transmission that could cause them to roll away, even if the gear was set in "park."

Her mother was unaware the Pontiac had an unrepaired safety recall. The recall was issued several years before she bought the car, and she didn't receive any notice.

GM told news reporters that owners of older vehicles are less likely to respond to safety recalls.

People who buy used vehicles or who move frequently often do not receive notice about safety recalls because manufacturers rely on vehicle registrations for addresses, and those records are often incomplete or out of date.

There's also a huge safety gap between newer vehicles and used cars that have changed ownership. The main causes of this dangerous gap? Car dealers fail to repair recalled used cars, selling them without getting the free repairs done first. Plus subsequent vehicle owners may never get the safety recall notices.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, as reported in the IndyStar, "Recalls are completed on about 83 percent of newer vehicles. That drops to 44 percent for vehicles five to 10 years old and 29 percent for cars more than 10 years old."

Watch news report: CBS This Morning: Father drowns saving daughter from recalled Pontiac G6

Do you live where wildfires pose a threat?
Beware of CarMax and their firebomb cars and trucks
Since 2015, auto manufacturers have recalled more than 26.5 million vehicles due to defects that can cause them to burst into flames. Some manufacturers recommend that the owners park the cars outside, where they may be less likely to burn down homes. But beware: if you buy an unrepaired, recalled firebomb car from a car dealer like CarMax, and it catches on fire and burns down your home, or destroys a whole town, they will try to pin the blame on you. This is a lesson that Californian Anthony Santos found out the hard way, after a Ford F-150 pickup he purchased from CarMax caught on fire in his driveway and caused over $200,000 in damage to the pickup, his garage, and his home. Fortunately, he and his children were able to escape the flames.
CarMax blamed the owner for buying this ticking time-bomb pickup truck that CarMax failed to get repaired.
Image source: NBC 4, L.A.
Before he bought the pickup from CarMax, Ford had issued a safety recall because the truck had a dangerous defect that made it prone to catching on fire without any warning. CarMax failed to get the FREE safety recall repair done before selling the pickup to Mr. Santos. Despite neglecting to get the repairs done, CarMax advertised that the pickup had passed CarMax's "125 point inspection." This of course would lead car buyers to believe that it must at least be safe, and free from known, hazardous safety recall defects.
  Mr. Santos found out the hard way that CarMax fails to get safety recall repairs done before selling its so-called "certified" "inspected" vehicles for top dollar. Image source: NBC 4, L.A.
After the truck caught on fire, CarMax tried to pin the blame on Mr. Santos for not finding out about the recall, taking his truck to a Ford dealership, and getting the safety recall repair done himself. Mr. Santos sued CarMax, and eventually they won, on a technicality.

Bottom line: Buying cars from CarMax is risky, especially if you live where there's a serious risk of wildfires.

Learn more: NBC Bay Area: Risks of Buying a Used Car and What the Dealership Isn't Telling You

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Our Mission
The CARS Foundation is a non-profit,
tax-exempt organization founded in 1979
that prevents motor vehicle-related fatalities,
injuries, and economic losses through
education, outreach, aid to victims,
and related activities.


Avoid Deadly Safety Defects
ALWAYS check for safety recalls before you buy.

Regularly updated safety recall data is free,
at the website for the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If the recall repair hasn't been done,
don't buy that car!!
CarMax advertises its vehicles passed
a 125-point inspection.

But FAILS to fix deadly safety recall defects.

Help save precious lives.

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CarMax sells cars with
deadly safety recall defects.
ABC's 20/20 went undercover and caught
CarMax up to their sneaky tricks.
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