CA Court Rules CarMax Inspection Checklist Isn't What You Think It Is

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ca court rules carmax inspection checklist isn t what you think it is

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.

[Image: Ildar Sagdejev/ Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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2 of 19 comments
  • Slavuta Slavuta on Oct 25, 2016

    Seriously. I just read CarMax as CarlMarx

  • Jimal Jimal on Oct 25, 2016

    I bought a Dakota quad cab from my local CarMax years ago. The price wasn't terrible but ultimately the truck was. They replaced the pulsating front brakes under warranty only to have them start pulsating again within a couple thousand miles. Between that and the motorboat like ride (and the last of parts support for the truck at the time) and it was soon traded in on a Passat wagon for the wife.

  • Stuki Moi If government officials, and voters, could, like, read and, like, count and, like, stuff: They'd take the opportunity to replace fixed license numbers, with random publicly available keys derived from a non-public private key known only to them and the vehicle's owner. The plate's displayed number would be undecipherable to every slimeball out there with a plate reader who is selling people's whereabouts and movements, since it would change every day/hour/minute. Yet any cop with a proper warrant and a plate scanner, could decipher it just as easily as today.
  • Dukeisduke Is this the one that doesn't have a back window? Like a commercial van?
  • MaintenanceCosts My rant seems to have disappeared, but suffice it to say I agree with 28 that this is a vehicle about which EVERYTHING is wrong.
  • SCE to AUX Welcome to the most complicated vehicle you can buy, with shocking depreciation built into every one.And that tail - oh, my.
  • FreedMike Can these plates be reprogrammed on demand to flash messages at other drivers? If so, I'd like to flash "Is your insurance paid up?" to tailgaters.