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Warning: That Used Car You're Looking At Might Be Under Recall

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Consumer advocates have a warning for anyone considering buying a used car: the vehicle could be subject to a recall without you knowing it.

New research shows recalled vehicles have become more common at the nation's largest used car chain - about 27 percent of vehicles inspected at 8 CarMax dealerships. That's one of every four cars that were found to have an un-repaired recall issue in a new investigation by car safety advocates.

"These are not aesthetics. These are dangerous problems with the car," said Jason Levine, Executive Director, Center for Auto Safety.

Levine says the problems included faulty Takata air bags and GM ignition switches.

In a statement, CarMax said they disclose open recalls before selling vehicles and have an easy way to check for a car's recall status on their website.

"Sometimes, those repairs are not even available. So, it's a little bit deceptive and very unfair to say, well, disclosure fixes the problem. It doesn't fix the problem and it doesn't fix the car," said Levine.

CarMax and other used car sellers said they're not in a position to make the fixes.  They're not required to.

New cars that have been recalled can't be sold, but no federal law stops the sale of used cars under recall.

Two Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would make the practice illegal, but the bill has stalled.

"We don't allow people to advertise food that's been recalled as safe. We don't let people advertise cribs that have been recalled as safe. It's not clear why you're allowed to advertise cars that have recalls on them as safe," said Levine.

Before buying, shoppers can check a car's recall status by entering its VIN number at


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