When is a completed inspection report not a completed inspection report? When it’s issued by CarMax, a California appeals court has ruled.
The court found the country’s largest used vehicle retailer in violation of a state law requiring detailed inspection checklists for certified used vehicles, Automotive News reports. The ruling, which stems from a lawsuit filed by a customer who claimed CarMax sold him a “certified” lemon, shines light on the retailer’s dodgy vehicle inspection practices.
According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, CarMax failed to detail to customers the condition of various components inspected through its certified used vehicle program. Under the state’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights, passed in 2006, a certified used car seller must provide a detailed checklist.
Travis Z. Gonzales, who bought a 2007 Infiniti G35 from a Costa Mesa, California CarMax, knows this now. He filed his lawsuit after finding badly worn brake pads, malfunctioning windows, a wonky transmission and warning lights that lit up his instrument panel like a Christmas tree. This, despite CarMax’s 125-point inspection program.
The buyer’s lawyer, Hallen Rosner of the law firm Rosner, Barry & Babbitt, claims the program is “a farce” that cheats customers.
When he bought the car, Gonzalas received two versions of CarMax Quality Inspected Certificates inside the vehicle. Those documents list the inspected components. The law requires that customers receive a third document — a detailed inspection checklist filled out by a technician that lists the condition of each part. Gonzales wasn’t handed a copy of this document. Court documents state that CarMax instead destroys the checklist after entering the inspection results into a database, leaving the customer in the dark.
In the court’s decision, Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote, “Sellers cannot merely list components that have been inspected, thereby leaving the consumer ignorant as to whether the various components satisfactorily passed the inspection.”
He added, “CarMax’s CQI certificates merely guarantee that the vehicle’s overall condition satisfied its certification program and list the components inspected under that program. After receiving this certificate, the consumer knows neither the condition of the individual components nor which, or how many, components must pass the test before a vehicle is ‘certified.’”
In a statement, CarMax said, “We respect the court’s findings and are reviewing the ruling to determine if any changes need to be made to our process.”
Given the court’s ruling, it’s almost guaranteed that CarMax customers will soon see the technician’s report. Possible changes to the retailer’s certification process can’t be ruled out.