1. What is a recall?

A recall occurs when a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) find that a condition or defect that could affect the safety or operation of a vehicle may exist in a specific vehicle or series of vehicles. The manufacturer notifies its authorized dealers and the registered vehicle owners of the condition or defect so that the registered owners can take the vehicle to the authorized dealer for diagnosis and repair.

2. What is NHTSA?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation that carries out vehicle safety programs. Part of NHTSA’s work is to set and enforce safety performance standards for vehicles and vehicle equipment and investigate vehicle safety defects.

3. How do I find out about a recall when I am shopping for a car at CarMax?

If you are shopping on carmax.com, when you find the car you are interested in, you can click on the NHTSA VIN Look-up to check for any open recalls.  You can find the link to the NHTSA VIN Look-up just below the VIN.  In addition, you can visit the NHTSA website at https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.

NHTSA’s website also has information on recalls based on vehicle year, make, and model, as well as general safety-related information.

CarMax also provides free AutoCheck reports on carmax.com and in its stores, which may include recall information on some manufacturers’ vehicles. Before you purchase a car, your Sales Consultant will review with you an AutoCheck report and VIN-specific recall look-up results from the NHTSA website.

Please note, the NHTSA and AutoCheck websites are not controlled by CarMax. CarMax does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of their information.

4. Does CarMax fix open recalls?

Some of our cars may have open recalls on them. There are several reasons for this, but at the core is the fact that the current recall system is based on the manufacturer’s relationship with its dealers and registered vehicle owners, and not with independent dealers.  Among other things, this means that manufacturers have not authorized CarMax to complete recall repairs and close out recalls. Before you purchase a car from CarMax, your Sales Consultant will review with you an AutoCheck report and VIN-specific recall look-up results from the NHTSA website. CarMax notifies customers prior to purchasing to have open recalls fixed by the manufacturer immediately. At our new car stores, we are manufacturer-authorized for the new car makes we sell at those stores; therefore, manufacturer recalls on vehicles for those new car makes are addressed at those stores before vehicles are sold.

5. How do I learn about recalls after I buy my CarMax car?

Manufacturers use state vehicle registration data to issue recall notices. If you do not maintain your state registration information, a future recall notice may not be sent to you. Make sure to update your address if you move.

CarMax also recommends that you register your car with the manufacturer as soon as you make a purchase. The details for registration vary by manufacturer, but you will usually need your address, date of purchase, VIN, and the year, make and model of your vehicle. By registering, you will receive information on open recalls, as well as other important information, directly from the manufacturer.  You also will be listed with the manufacturer as the current owner if a new recall is issued. As with www.safercar.gov, most manufacturers have VIN-specific recall look up tools on their websites.

Register at your car manufacturer’s website:

Visit your car manufacturer’s recall VIN look-up website:

You can also subscribe for email recall notifications from NHTSA at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/index.cfm. These notifications are not specific to your VIN, but are based on your car’s year and make. You can register up to five cars. By subscribing, you will receive an email whenever there is a recall for your selection.

You can also use the NHTSA VIN-specific recall look-up service to check for open recalls at https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.

6. What do I do if my car has an open recall? Will I have to pay anything?

Contact a manufacturer-authorized repair facility, which is required to fix recalls at no cost to you.