Consumer and safety non-profit organizations petition the FTC to investigate CarMax over sales of used cars

A dozen major national consumer and safety non-profit organizations are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, over its sales of recalled used cars. In a petition filed at the FTC on Monday, the groups charge that:  CarMax advertises on its website, on television, in newspapers, and at its dealerships that each of the used vehicles it offers for sale are “CarMax Quality Certified” and has undergone a rigorous, “125+ point inspection.” However, as alleged in the petition, CarMax fails to ensure that safety recalls are performed prior to selling used cars to consumers. As reported by the New York Times, “CarMax, the nation’s largest seller of used cars, offers a “Certified Quality Inspection,” which does not include fixing [safety] recalls.”

The Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer Law Center and the Center for Auto Safety are among the groups that have signed the petition.

Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers.  Under federal law, auto manufacturers are responsible for performing safety recalls, and work closely with their franchised dealers to oversee the repair process, often including providing specialized training for their dealers’ auto technicians. CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers. The fact that CarMax is not permitted to make the repairs itself is no excuse for selling consumers unsafe, recalled cars– particularly when CarMax advertises them as “Quality Certified” and as having passed a rigorous inspection.

View the petition: FTCpetitionCarMax

Toyota recalls 2005-2010 Tacoma Access Cab vehicles over seat belt safety issues

Toyota is recalling certain model year 2005-2010 Tacoma Access Cab vehicles manufactured September 14, 2004, through March 29, 2010; and model year 2011 Tacoma Access Cab vehicles manufactured July 1, 2010, through September 7, 2011. If the access doors are repeatedly and forcefully closed, the screws that attach the seat belt pre-tensioner to the seat belt retractor can loosen over time. If the screws loosen completely, the seat belt pre-tensioner and the retractor spring cover could detach from the seat belt retractor.

If the seat belt pre-tensioner detaches from the seat belt assembly, the seat belt pre-tensioner will not perform as designed, increasing the risk of injury in a severe crash.

Toyota will notify owners and will inspect the seat belt assemblies. Based on the inspection, the seat belt assembly will be replaced or new pre-tensioner screws will be installed with thread-locking sealant and a retractor spring cover with stopper ribs to prevent loosening of the screws. These services will be provided at no cost to the owner.

Chrysler recalls 2008-2012 Jeep Wrangler vehicles over airbag issues

Chrysler Group LLC is recalling certain model year 2008-2012 Jeep Wrangler right-hand drive vehicles manufactured February 1, 2007, through October 10, 2011. The affected vehicles have airbag clock-spring assemblies that could experience broken airbag circuits.

In the event of a crash necessitating airbag deployment, a broken electrical circuit in the airbag clock-spring wiring assembly can lead to non-deployment of the driver-side frontal airbag and will not be able to properly protect the driver, increasing the risk of injuries.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the clock-spring and add a steering wheel dust shield, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 2013.

Ford named in class action over defects in the continuously variable transmissions of the Freestyle and Mercury Montego

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The class action lawsuit was brought on behalf all persons in the United States who purchased or leased, not for resale, any 2005 through 2007 Ford Freestyle or 2005 through 2001 Mercury Montego vehicles equipped with a continuously variable transmission (“CVT” or “CVT Transmission manufactured, distributed, and sold by Ford Motor Company (Defendant”)

As alleged in the complaint, beginning in 2005 Defendant knew or should have known that the Class Vehicles and their CVT Transmission contain one or more design and manufacturing defects that causes them to prematurely breakdown and suffer mechanical failure (”the CVT Defect” or “CVT Transmission Defect”).

A continuously variable transmission is a type of automatic transmission that allegedly provides more useable power, better fuel economy and a smoother driving experience than a traditional automatic transmission. Unlike traditional transmissions, a continuously variable transmission uses a system of pulleys with metal belt or chain running between them which enables the engine to run at its most efficient revolutions per minute (RPM) for a range of vehicle speeds.

When premature breakdown and mechanical failure occurs, the affected Class Vehicles are no longer safe to operate and require repairs costing thousands of dollars.  Furthermore, due to the nature of the CVT Transmission Defect, consumers have frequently experienced and will continue to experience unexpected and premature CVT Transmission failure while driving. CVT Transmission failure while driving results in unsafe conditions, including but not limited to loss of forward propulsion, significant delays in acceleration, loud noises coming from the CVT Transmission, Class Vehicles operating in emergency running mode, drivers receiving error messages, stalling, and the inability to use the reverse gear.

These conditions present safety hazard due to the sudden and unexpected transmission failure that Class Vehicles can experience while in operation. The Class Vehicles and their CVT Transmissions can fail, suddenly and unexpectedly, at any time and 4 under any driving condition or speed. Further, sudden loss of forward propulsion and delayed acceleration can have serious effects on handling, stability, acceleration, and maintenance of speed. These conditions and risks can thereby contribute to traffic accidents which can result in personal injury or death.

As alleged, since 2005, Ford has known that the CVT Transmissions were defectively designed, assembled, and manufactured. Rather than alerting Class Members of this safety hazard and offering to repair the Class Vehicles, Ford has concealed this problem from its customers at the time of purchase or lease and thereafter.

Because Ford will not notify Class Members that the CVT Transmission is defective, Plaintiff and Class Members (as well as members of the general public) are subjected to dangerous driving conditions that often occur without warning. As a result of the CVT Transmission Defect, Ford, through its dealers, has also profited by selling replacement parts to Class Members.

As a result of the CVT Transmission Defect contained in the Vehicles, Plaintiff and the Class Members have been harmed and have suffered actual damages in that the Class Vehicles and their CVT Transmissions have failed or are substantially certain to fail during their expected useful life.

See the Complaint here: Ford CVT