Owners FAQ

1. How can I get an owner's manual for the vehicle I purchased from CarMax?

Many of the vehicles sold by CarMax come with an owner's manual. If your vehicle did not include a manual, you can visit the manufacturer's website, where you may be able to view or download a copy. Some manufacturers allow you to simply search for the manual by the vehicle's year, make, and model. Others may require you to register the vehicle and yourself as the owner before allowing you to view or download the manual. There are some manufacturers that do not offer an electronic version at this time. If you are unable to download an owner's manual from the manufacturer, most will let you order a paper copy. (Valid receipt required to receive reimbursement for any out of pocket expense incurred.)

Visit your car manufacturer's website

You can also visit the website of Helm Publications, which offers owner's manuals for many manufacturers, or you can call Helm at 1-800-782-4356. (Valid receipt required to receive reimbursement for any out of pocket expense incurred.)

Helm Publications website

2. What is a recall?

A recall occurs when a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds 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.

3. 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.

4. 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. In addition, you can visit the NHTSA website at https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.

NHTSA’s website 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 vehicle, your Sales Consultant will review with you an AutoCheck report and a VIN-specific recall report 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.

5. Does CarMax fix open recalls?

Manufacturers have not authorized CarMax to complete recall repairs and close out recalls. The current recall system is based on the manufacturer’s relationship with its dealers and registered vehicle owners. Before you purchase a vehicle from CarMax, your Sales Consultant will review with you an AutoCheck report and a VIN-specific recall report from the NHTSA website. CarMax notifies customers prior to purchasing to have open recalls fixed by the manufacturer immediately.

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

By titling and registering your vehicle with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Make sure to update your address if you move. 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.

Register your vehicle 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. These notifications are not specific to your VIN, but are based on your vehicle’s year, make, and model. You can register up to five vehicles. By subscribing, you will receive an email whenever there is a recall for your selection.

Subscribe to NHTSA email recall notifications


You can also use the NHTA VIN-specific recall look up to check for open recalls.

Visit NHTSA’s VIN-specific recall look up open recalls.


7. What do I do if my vehicle 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.

CarMax does not guarantee a recall-free vehicle.