California resident Travis Z. Gonzales thought he had purchased a car at the Costa Mesa CarMax location. Instead, the 2007 Infiniti G35 he drove out of the lot was actually a lemon on wheels.
Shortly after buying the car, Gonzales began experiencing several mechanical problems such as malfunctioning windows, transmission problems and instrument panel warning lights that illuminated routinely or in clusters. Plus, the brake pads needed to be replaced.
Gonzales filed a lawsuit against CarMax, alleging that he made the decision to purchase his vehicle from the dealership based upon the CarMax ads that highlight the benefits of its 125-point inspection.
He won. In October, a federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that CarMax’s inspection process violates California’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights. The bill, passed in 2006, requires dealers of certified used vehicles to conduct and provide consumers with a checklist of every component that has been inspected and if those components satisfactorily passed the inspection. Evidence in the case proved that CarMax provides a list of components inspected, but does not provide information about the status of those components.
Put the Squeeze on For Free
If you find yourself with a lemon in your driveway, there is another option to going to court: you can take advantage of California’s Lemon Law, which is regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program (ACP). The Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles sold or leased in California that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. The arbitration process is free and no attorney is needed. You can find out more about the Lemon Law and what it covers in ACP’s booklet, Lemon-Aid for Consumers, available online in both English and Spanish at www.dca.ca.gov/acp.