Starting Monday, May 1, Lexus Division will require sales of its certified used cars and trucks to include vehicle history reports from Carfax Inc.
Executives of the luxury brand say the policy will help its dealers comply with a new California law called the Car Buyer's Bill of Rights. Other states are considering similar measures.
The California law takes effect July 1. Among other things, it seeks to protect consumers from false claims about used-vehicle certification. It outlines items that the law's sponsors say dealers should know about the history of vehicles they sell and advertise as certified.
Marv Ingram, national certified pre-owned/fleet manager for Lexus, says the law's language is ambiguous. It could cause some dealers to violate the law unknowingly, he warns.
"We wanted to take that liability off our dealers," Ingram told Automotive News. "It's in California (now), but it's going to go across the country pretty soon."
Ingram says that 87 percent of Lexus dealerships that take part in the company's certified-used program already provide Carfax reports to buyers. "It's no major change," he says. "It's added peace of mind."
Several other automakers also require vehicle history reports from Carfax as part of their certified programs. They include Toyota, General Motors, the Chrysler group, Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, American Honda Motor Co. and Volkswagen of America.
The new California law makes it illegal for a licensed dealer to advertise or sell a vehicle as certified if the dealer "knows or should have known" that:
- The vehicle had frame damage.
- Its odometer shows fewer miles than driven, because of odometer tampering or replacement.
- A manufacturer or dealer had to buy back the vehicle under a lemon law or similar legislation.
All sell certified used
Ingram says all 217 U.S. Lexus dealerships sell certified used vehicles. Those stores now determine whether a vehicle is suitable for certification by examining its history of service at Lexus dealerships.
Certified Lexus vehicles are no more than seven model years old, have no more than 60,000 miles, and have had no major damage.
The used vehicles are inspected, reconditioned and covered by a factory warranty.
Last month, Lexus sold 3,741 certified used vehicles. That is down 6.5 percent from March 2005, but up 23.6 percent from February 2006.
Overall, the industry sold 150,461 certified used vehicles in March. That was a 1.5 percent increase from March 2005.
From January through March, the industry sold 399,646 certified used vehicles - virtually unchanged from the year-ago period.
You may e-mail Arlena Sawyers at [email protected]