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Court Says CarMax Must Tell California Buyers Condition of Inspected Car Parts

CarMax must disclose the condition of individual components it inspects before selling a car in California. So says a federal court in California, which recently ruled on the issue after a lawsuit from a man who purchased an Infiniti from a CarMax dealership in Costa Mesa, California.

According to the ruling, it won’t be enough for CarMax to merely state that a used vehicle has passed its inspection. Instead, CarMax must disclose the actual condition of each inspected part — like the brake pads, the electronics and more.

The ruling comes after a lawsuit from Travis Gonzales, who bought a 2007 Infiniti G37 in California and soon began experiencing problems with the car — including worn brake pads and various electronic issues. This was in spite of the fact that Gonzales’s car had passed CarMax’s "inspection," which doesn’t list components individually but rather gives a more general report — a violation, the court ruled, of the California Buyer’s Bill of Rights. See the 2007 Infiniti G37 models for sale near you

So how does this affect the world-famous CarMax Range Rover? Interestingly, it wouldn’t. Since this ruling only affects vehicles sold in California (due to a California-specific law), CarMax isn’t required to make adjustments to its inspection reports in other states — and since I bought my Range Rover in Georgia, its selling process probably wouldn’t change. With that said, CarMax could change its inspection reports across the country to streamline its inspection process.

And while I didn’t buy my "bumper-to-bumper" Aston Martin from CarMax, the ruling could affect Aston — and other brands — too. When I bought my Aston Martin (also not in California), it included an "inspection" in order to qualify for its certified pre-owned warranty — but I didn’t get a component-by-component inspection report. Although I’m not sure how California-based Aston Martin dealers handle these sales, it seems like this ruling makes it clear that any automaker or dealer claiming to offer an "inspection" must detail the actual condition of a vehicle’s components — meaning this ruling could affect more than just CarMax.

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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8 COMMENTS

  1. The other option here is that CarMax and others could refuse to inspect used vehicles in California so good luck getting a PPI done on a cherry 356 speedster in Long Beach.

  2. Just another burden for a business that employs people and creates wealth. So when Carmax thinks twice about expanding in CA (and they are in full expansion mode I recently worked there), is that a good thing for the economy? 

  3. Considering all of the other burdens California places on businesses, I was surprised this only applies to cars that CarMax sells, and not to every car inspected by CarMax. I figured it’d be a neat way to get a free diagnostic report by 

    1. Bring your car into CarMax for an estimate
    2. Get the detailed results of the inspection back for free
    3. ???
    4. Profit!
    I know other places offer quickie inspections for free, or nearly free (when combined with an oil change for instance), just figured there’d be a loophole in there somewhere. Some sort of “see something, say something… you can’t simply let that potential seller walk away without knowing their car is unsafe in these specific measurements” sort of thing. For once I’m surprised by California’s restraint. 
    • If you’re selling a “certified” vehicle, you should produce the results of the inspection.

      Others do it.  http://www.ford.com/resources/ford/global/pdf/cpo/ford_cpo.pdf

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