Want to sell my '02 high-mileage car to CarMax but CEL went on - how much will it impact their offer?

Archived From: Finance
  • Text Only
Voting History
rated:
Looking for some advice.  I've been driving my super-reliable 2002 Lexus SC430  for the last 9 years (I bought it back in 2008 with about 55K miles on it for $22K) and I'm finally sick enough of it that I want to trade it in for something different this year.  Of course, just as I make this decision, my check engine light goes on.  I have an OBD scanner and there were several codes dealing with the O2 sensor and Evaporative Emission System.  I cleared the codes and within 30 mins, the CEL went back on again, so I'm worried that it's something that needs repair soon.

According to KBB the trade-in value is somewhere between $5200-7200.  Right now, I'm thinking that I'd like to buy my next car from CarMax because I might want to get another used luxury convertible (I'm thinking about a 2009+ BMW Z4) and I've always worried about BMW reliability/maintenance-costs, but I read the Jalopnik posts from xxx where he bought a totally unreliable Land Rover, got a CarMax MaxCare warranty for $2-3K and had over $8K in repairs they covered, so my plan is to get that.  Because of my SC430's age and mileage (135K) I understand that they'll just sell it to auction and not try to sell it themselves.

*IF* I'm going to get my next car from CarMax, I'd prefer to sell my car to them to save on the hassle and to get a discount on the sales tax.

So my question is, if CarMax is just going to sell it to auction anyway, will the CEL make a big difference in what they're going to offer me?

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Expensive fix: Replace EVAP canister. Just need a few deep socket hex wrenches and pliers + 1-2 hours of your time + $30... (more)

HaloFans (May. 07, 2017 @ 9:21p) |

A few folks have recently replied with suggestions about clearing the evap codes, so just to reiterate...the evap codes ... (more)

hipnetic (May. 08, 2017 @ 6:41a) |

I know others have said check the gas cap, but do you really know what to look for?

There is an o-ring inside the gas cap... (more)

tyrone3971 (May. 10, 2017 @ 1:14a) |

Staff Summary
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

I believe they won't offer on a car with CEL.

Edit : Another site says they offer 90% of the value....I don't believe it , but you can try.

How much to fix it? I'm guessing one of these days your car won't pass the smog test.

what is a "smog test"?

we just pay a yearly registration fee 

I drove a car with the CEL light on. I would turn it off, wait a couple days, drive in for the emissions inspection and pass, and a few days later the light would come on again.

It is likely the EVAP sensor went bad. Generally an easy sub-$100 DIY job. These sensors go bad all the time because there is a little plastic plunger in it that eventually gives or just gets stuck.

Reset the CEL errors and then bring it in for a quote.

Then when you do sell it, reset it again right before you turn it in.

Carmax is just going auction it. CEL won't make a big difference in price but you can do as Russell suggested if that is a concern.

qcumber98 said:   How much to fix it? I'm guessing one of these days your car won't pass the smog test.
  You won't pass emissions tests in any state that uses OBDII tests with the CEL on.

dobby10 said:   It is likely the EVAP sensor went bad. Generally an easy sub-$100 DIY job. These sensors go bad all the time because there is a little plastic plunger in it that eventually gives or just gets stuck.
  You can also get EVAP codes due to a bad gas cap, or not properly putting the gas cap back on.

One of the best purchases I've ever made was a Bluetooth OBD Reader. You run the Torque program on your phone, plug it into the Diagnostic port and it tells you the codes and what they mean. Has paid for itself many times over.

Get one, find out if it is a simple fix, and clear the code.

Stubtify said:   One of the best purchases I've ever made was a Bluetooth OBD Reader. You run the Torque program on your phone, plug it into the Diagnostic port and it tells you the codes and what they mean. Has paid for itself many times over.

Get one, find out if it is a simple fix, and clear the code.

  
Fix the issue and sell it privately. Don't fall for their ads - their prices when they are buying cars is crap. On top of it, the salesman calls you to let you know that you are passing up a great opportunity to get reamed.

carmax is a zero downside option other than the time you waste getting a quote (30 mins max)

I got an offer on par with private party with zero hassle YMMV, no reason not to at least see what they have to say.

Thanks for the replies, but I was hoping someone here works (or used to work) at CarMax or some other car dealer and had experience with how this would affect trade-in value. Also, without direct quoting anyone specific, let me address a few of the replies...

1) I don't know how much it will be to fix it. I know that multiple codes went off and it could cost a little or it could cost a lot. I don't know how to work on cars, so I'd have to bring it to a shop. Even if the grand total cost "only" $400, I'd still be wondering whether CarMax would have offered me $400 less had I not gotten it fixed.

2) I have a Bluetooth OBD2 reader. In fact, I rushed the Amazon order so that I could get it yesterday (Saturday), since there was a car in town I wanted to test drive, and just in case I wanted to have them look at my car for trade-in, I wanted to clear the codes. Sidenote: I was bummed, though, to discover that the iOS OBD Fusion app (which I also spent an extra $10 for) couldn't detect it. I have an iPhone and this specific Bluetooth reader wasn't listed on OBD Fusion's website as being compatible, so I knew I was taking a chance, but since it was one of the few Bluetooth readers that claimed iPhone compatibility, I figured it would be OK. Fortunately, the free app iOBD2 that was referenced in the box worked and I was able to read and clear my codes. But then within 30 mins, they were back on again.

3) My assumption is that clearing the codes temporarily to fool CarMax isn't going to work as desired, because even if you clear the codes, if you use a code reader it will indicate that the car isn't ready yet for emissions testing. This is because when you clear the code, it trips that other flag/code to indicate that it's not ready for emissions testing, and you have to drive the car like 50+ miles to then clear *that* flag/code. And if you have a real problem, the original codes will pop back on within that time. So my thinking is that if I clear the code and bring it in to CarMax they'll be smart enough to plug in a code reader (but maybe I'm wrong - that's where it would be nice if someone here worked at CarMax) and would see that it wasn't ready for emissions, which meant that I had likely recently cleared a code, and they would factor that into the offer. That might still be better than *not* clearing the codes, in which case they'd look at the codes and factor in the specific work that would be needed on the car.

4) Yes, the evap code could be due to a gas cap. I had previously brought the car into a shop and that's what they said. They checked the cap and cleared the code. But I always make sure I get a click (ideally more than one click) when I put the cap on, so my gut told me that wasn't the issue. And then the light went back on again.

Anyways, for anyone who is interested and might be a Lexus expert (I plan to post this info to a Lexus forum I'm part of, too), here are the specific codes:

- P0135 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Bank 1 Sensor 1
- P0440 - Evaporative Emission System
- P0441 - Evaporative Emission System Incorrect Purge Flow
- P0446 - Evaporative Emission System Vent Control Circuit

IIRC the SC430 was the last car sold new with an analog tape deck.

That is all.

RussellJohnson said:   Reset the CEL errors and then bring it in for a quote.

Then when you do sell it, reset it again right before you turn it in.

  and commit FRAUD!

hipnetic said:   Anyways, for anyone who is interested and might be a Lexus expert (I plan to post this info to a Lexus forum I'm part of, too), here are the specific codes:

- P0135 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Bank 1 Sensor 1
- P0440 - Evaporative Emission System
- P0441 - Evaporative Emission System Incorrect Purge Flow
- P0446 - Evaporative Emission System Vent Control Circuit

 First disconnect the battery for a few hours, so the car's computer resets.  This will do more than simply clearing the codes.  When you reconnect it and have the car on for a while, a repeat of the same codes could maen you need an O2 sensor replaced.  They are cheap and easily done in your driveway on most cars.  How old is the O2 sensor in question?

sloppy1 said:   
RussellJohnson said:   Reset the CEL errors and then bring it in for a quote.

Then when you do sell it, reset it again right before you turn it in.

  and commit FRAUD!


Hope you're being sarcastic or trolling. Last time I remember, selling a car at Carmax was sold as-is. No warranties or guarantees are offered, implicitly or explicitly.  

hipnetic said:   
  
Not sure if Carmax pulls codes from OBDII. If they do, the worst it'll say is that various sensors are not ready.

I went back through the file I maintain of all the work done (except my oil changes - the place I usually use for that is so old school that they don't have a printer so they don't give you any detailed printouts of anything they do). The last time I had an O2 sensor replaced the final bill rang up to about $270, of which about $190 was for the O2 sensor itself. I'm tempted to get the repair done and hope that's all that's wrong. That way I don't have to worry one way or the other about how much of an impact it's making on the trade-in offer, and it will also allow me to not rush into buying my next car.

hipnetic said:   The last time I had an O2 sensor replaced the final bill rang up to about $270, of which about $190 was for the O2 sensor itself. I'm tempted to get the repair done and hope that's all that's wrong.
  That's NOT what I am suggesting.  First of all the parts don't cost that much from Amazon or RockAuto.  It should just be a fraction of that.  Second of all, there might be nothing wrong with the O2 sensor in the car.  

Hope, accompanied with your credit card, will probably not fix your car.  That's not a plan. It will just cause you to spend money. 

hipnetic said:    So my thinking is that if I clear the code and bring it in to CarMax they'll be smart enough to plug in a code reader (but maybe I'm wrong - that's where it would be nice if someone here worked at CarMax) and would see that it wasn't ready for emissions, which meant that I had likely recently cleared a code, and they would factor that into the offer. 
  Chances are they will just walk around the car once and open the door to look inside. Start it up and rev it a few seconds and put it in gear. The chances that anybody will use a obd2 tester is pretty slim. They are more concerned about an engine knock or smoking or a slipping transmission than some bad sensor or vacuum leak. They have a repair shop on sight that can fix it  cheaper than you can.

Replace the O2 sensor. Part should be cheap

http://www.carparts.com/details/Lexus/SC430/Replacement/Oxygen_Sensor/2002/ARBT960910.html?TID=gglpla&origin=pla&gclid=CIPmrYibzNMCFceEswodaK4G7A&gclsrc=aw.ds

You can find the diagram online, use a socket to pull the old one out and pop the new one in. My guess is all codes clear once that is done

sloppy1 said:   
RussellJohnson said:   Reset the CEL errors and then bring it in for a quote.

Then when you do sell it, reset it again right before you turn it in.

  and commit FRAUD!

  Can't keep count how many cars I've bought at auction that I checked out beforehand, only to have the CEL come on 10 or 20 miles after purchase. Dealers take into account those practices in exchange for a wholesale price. If you're set on fixing it, why not maximize your price and sell it yourself?

I doubt you will increase the amount of their offer by the amount you would spend taking it to a mechanic to fix.

IF you could do it yourself with a cheap part, or IF you were selling private party or a low-mileage car, it MIGHT make sense to fix first. Past a certain age, you're not going to recoup what you spend to fix it.

I bought my 2006 Honda Accord in July last year. A few months later, I would occasionally get the P0171 - System Too Lean Bank One. I never got around to fixing it, but months later it just mysteriously went away.

HawkeyeNFO said:   That's NOT what I am suggesting.  First of all the parts don't cost that much from Amazon or RockAuto.  It should just be a fraction of that.  Second of all, there might be nothing wrong with the O2 sensor in the car.  

Hope, accompanied with your credit card, will probably not fix your car.  That's not a plan. It will just cause you to spend money. 

To clarify, I wasn't replying to you directly. You recommended unhooking the battery and plugging it back in. Sure, I'll give that a shot. But I already cleared the codes once and had them reappear, so I'm not sure why your recommendation would change that.

You also suggested that I could swap out the O2 sensor myself in my driveway. If it's as easy as you suggest, I'll do some Googling and look for YouTube videos on it. But car repair isn't something I know anything about, so I suspect it would be a lot more difficult for me than you suggest.

AlwaysWrite said:   I doubt you will increase the amount of their offer by the amount you would spend taking it to a mechanic to fix.

IF you could do it yourself with a cheap part, or IF you were selling private party or a low-mileage car, it MIGHT make sense to fix first. Past a certain age, you're not going to recoup what you spend to fix it.

 Not sure if you're right or wrong, but I just wanted to thank you for being the first person to actually answer the specific question I asked.

hipnetic said:   
You also suggested that I could swap out the O2 sensor myself in my driveway. If it's as easy as you suggest, I'll do some Googling and look for YouTube videos on it. But car repair isn't something I know anything about, so I suspect it would be a lot more difficult for me than you suggest.

  Blindly throwing parts at it is usually a waste of money and doesn't solve the problem. You've got a leak in the evap system and will need a service manual to trace the location of vacuum lines and a smoke machine to find the leak.

Thing with the OBD codes is that they don't always tell you what is really wrong.  Often times, especially with emissions and exhaust, one reading out of tolerance on a sensor will cause it to throw a code.  But the sensor itself might be bad, or there might be an actual problem and the sensor is correct.  If Atikovi is correct, then you should replace the vacuum lines.  If the O2 sensor is bad, then replace that.  But diagnosing the car solely based on what your Android scanner says doesn't sound too wise.  It's a great place to start though.

Look, if it was my car that I was selling to CarMax, I'd clear the codes, take it in and see what they offer.  If the CEL comes on again, then ask them how much they would offer if the CEL remained off.  If the difference is less than $100 (and close to the actual value), I'd take it. 

Replace the left upstream O2 sensor.
Clear all codes.
Hope the evap problem doesn't reset the code too quickly.
Profit.

https://www.amazon.com/Denso-234-4138-Oxygen-Sensor/dp/B000C5YCU...

ganda said:   IIRC the SC430 was the last car sold new with an analog tape deck.

That is all.

I had a 2005 Acura TL with cassette player.  


Cassette player
Disclaimer
My 2010 Lincoln aka Crown Vic had one.

 

Carmax is only going to wholesale a 2002 so they won't care much if the CEL light is on.

wilked said:   Replace the O2 sensor. Part should be cheap

http://www.carparts.com/details/Lexus/SC430/Replacement/Oxygen_S...

You can find the diagram online, use a socket to pull the old one out and pop the new one in. My guess is all codes clear once that is done

  
I wouldn't buy from CarParts.com, Rockauto or Amazon are better options.

atikovi said:   My 2010 Lincoln aka Crown Vic had one.

 

  
A 2010 SC430 has one too, I wonder if a 2011 Lincoln aka Crown Vic has one?

eta: Google says no, it may be a tie!

etfa: What do a Lincoln, a Lexus SC430, and a collection of Bing Crosby cassettes have in common?

Yup, my SC430 has a cassette player. I made good use of it for a cassette-to-AUX input, rather than upgrading my stereo. Of course, the speakers were shot long ago, so it has sounded pretty bad for high-volume music. But I honestly use it most of the time for playing podcasts. I definitely would like my next car to have a great audio system early on, with something like an Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and backup camera, but if I end up with a Z4, I'm not sure how easy it would be to integrate that and not have it look ugly.

hipnetic said:   Thanks for the replies, but I was hoping someone here works (or used to work) at CarMax or some other car dealer and had experience with how this would affect trade-in value. Also, without direct quoting anyone specific, let me address a few of the replies...

1) I don't know how much it will be to fix it. I know that multiple codes went off and it could cost a little or it could cost a lot. I don't know how to work on cars, so I'd have to bring it to a shop. Even if the grand total cost "only" $400, I'd still be wondering whether CarMax would have offered me $400 less had I not gotten it fixed.

2) I have a Bluetooth OBD2 reader. In fact, I rushed the Amazon order so that I could get it yesterday (Saturday), since there was a car in town I wanted to test drive, and just in case I wanted to have them look at my car for trade-in, I wanted to clear the codes. Sidenote: I was bummed, though, to discover that the iOS OBD Fusion app (which I also spent an extra $10 for) couldn't detect it. I have an iPhone and this specific Bluetooth reader wasn't listed on OBD Fusion's website as being compatible, so I knew I was taking a chance, but since it was one of the few Bluetooth readers that claimed iPhone compatibility, I figured it would be OK. Fortunately, the free app iOBD2 that was referenced in the box worked and I was able to read and clear my codes. But then within 30 mins, they were back on again.

3) My assumption is that clearing the codes temporarily to fool CarMax isn't going to work as desired, because even if you clear the codes, if you use a code reader it will indicate that the car isn't ready yet for emissions testing. This is because when you clear the code, it trips that other flag/code to indicate that it's not ready for emissions testing, and you have to drive the car like 50+ miles to then clear *that* flag/code. And if you have a real problem, the original codes will pop back on within that time. So my thinking is that if I clear the code and bring it in to CarMax they'll be smart enough to plug in a code reader (but maybe I'm wrong - that's where it would be nice if someone here worked at CarMax) and would see that it wasn't ready for emissions, which meant that I had likely recently cleared a code, and they would factor that into the offer. That might still be better than *not* clearing the codes, in which case they'd look at the codes and factor in the specific work that would be needed on the car.

4) Yes, the evap code could be due to a gas cap. I had previously brought the car into a shop and that's what they said. They checked the cap and cleared the code. But I always make sure I get a click (ideally more than one click) when I put the cap on, so my gut told me that wasn't the issue. And then the light went back on again.

Anyways, for anyone who is interested and might be a Lexus expert (I plan to post this info to a Lexus forum I'm part of, too), here are the specific codes:

- P0135 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Bank 1 Sensor 1
- P0440 - Evaporative Emission System
- P0441 - Evaporative Emission System Incorrect Purge Flow
- P0446 - Evaporative Emission System Vent Control Circuit

 For some cards and codes, there is a small window where the car will pass the OBDII emissions test before all the systems have fully reset after the codes have been cleared. The way wat it has been explained to me is that you might need something like 5 of 7 systems ready to pass, and so long as your fault is in the last two you can pass until they have gone enough miles to reset (the numbers are not exact).

ganda said:   IIRC the SC430 was the last car sold new with an analog tape deck.

That is all.

  Yup.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/automobiles/06AUDIO.html

hipnetic said:   I might want to get another used luxury convertible (I'm thinking about a 2009+ BMW Z4)Have you driven a Z4? The last one I drove was a rough riding, noisy, cramped, sporty car. Luxury not included.
  

Skipping 21 Messages...
I know others have said check the gas cap, but do you really know what to look for?

There is an o-ring inside the gas cap on the Lexus that actually makes the seal. Take out the one on there now and look at it. It's pretty clear to tell if it's ripped, chipped, or brittle. Then buy a new one.

If that isn't it, it's probably not the O2 sensor. The evap system is pressurized. There are a couple solenoid valves that can go bad. One is in the engine compartment and another closer to the exhaust. The parts are roughly $40, but can be a pain to change. Need to undo some hoses in tight quarters, and apply new hose clamps. You can use a 9V battery to test the ones on there to see if they close once they are out to confirm your suspicions

Expect to pay a shop at least $300.

 



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2017