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.

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.