New York Sen. Charles Schumer is asking federal regulators to require that car dealers repair any recalled used cars before they are sold.
Federal law requires that new cars be sidelined until recall repairs are made, but used cars are exempt.
Schumer, a Democrat, wants the Federal Trade Commission to end that exemption. He said in an announcement Tuesday that if the agency fails to act, he would consider introducing legislation.
"Dealers selling used cars should be held to the same standard," he said in a letter to the FTC. "I believe the Federal Trade Commission has the regulatory power to take appropriate action to protect the safety of used-car buyers."
An agency spokesman said all such requests routinely are given careful consideration.
The issue is getting renewed attention this year amid an extraordinary number of auto recalls, including 44 by General Motors covering nearly 18 million cars.
In a statement, Richmond, Virginia-based CarMax, the nation's largest used car retailer, said auto manufacturers authorize only new car dealers to perform recall repairs, requiring used cars dealers to take the cars to new car dealers to get the work done. CarMax said it would be willing to make the repairs itself if that were not the case.
The company's statement added, "CarMax provides the necessary information for customers to register their vehicle with the manufacturer to determine if it has an open recall and be notified about future recalls."
In his letter to the FTC, Schumer said his concern was prompted by a petition to the FTC on Monday by 11 consumer and public interest groups urging the agency to require that CarMax cease what the groups described as "deceptive advertising and sales practices" in promoting a 125-plus point quality inspection, because it does not include ensuring that outstanding recall repairs have been performed.
CarMax has one outlet in New York State, in Rochester.