Some of you know that I drive a Range Rover. For those of you who don’t, I’m telling you now: I drive a Range Rover. And you can read all about it in my book, which many of you excitedly told me that you can’t wait to begin reading while sitting on the toilet.
Announcing my Range Rover ownership on a website full of car enthusiasts might be a bad idea, and I do it with some trepidation. It’s kind of like going to the National Lawnmower Enthusiast Convention, where everyone’s really into those push mowers that make you spend a whole Saturday mowing a section of grass the size of an end table, and telling people that you have a 34-horsepower riding mower with a Blu-Ray player.
Car enthusiasts hate the Range Rover, primarily for two reasons. One is that everyone who drives a Range Rover seems to view it as a large, comfortable, V8-powered sitting area for talking on the phone. If you think this, I should remind you that the only reason Range Rover drivers always have a phone up to their ear is because the Bluetooth stopped working.
Another reason car enthusiasts hate the Range Rover so much is because it’s unreliable. We know it’s very functional off road, and it can ford streams up to a certain number of inches that the Land Rover PR people memorize precisely and tell to everyone at auto shows, and it can rescue small children from the jaws of angry mountain lions, but why the hell can’t it go to the grocery store without throwing a check engine light?
My Range Rover, of course, is just as unreliable as the rest. It’s a 2006 model with 68,000 miles, and although I cannot currently see it, I am sure the internal engine components are all currently hatching a plan to fail just as I’m merging onto a busy highway in the rain.
But I have a secret weapon: I bought it from CarMax.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: What are you, some kind of sales rep for CarMax? And the answer is: Absolutely not, and by the end of this post I will probably be banned from CarMax for life, which is a shame because their free donuts are quite tasty.
So now you’re thinking: What the hell is CarMax? In a nutshell, imagine a chain of car dealers designed to make the car-buying process about as easy as the toothpaste-buying process. Seriously: you can walk in, say “I want a blue one,” and drive away in a “blue one,” regardless of make, or model, or previous use as a drug smuggling vehicle.
But car enthusiasts hate CarMax almost as much as they hate Range Rovers. One reason is its notoriously high prices. But it’s also because CarMax takes all the fun out of buying a car. They have a strict “no haggle” policy, which means you can’t stand in the sun for hours and yell at the salesman about what the price should be, and then go home and brag to your friends about how you got it for “under invoice.”
So why would I buy my Range Rover there? Simple: they offer a six-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty on any vehicle in their inventory.
Now, this might not excite you that much. You probably think that CarMax inventory mostly consists of used rental cars and Toyota Avalons traded in by the owner’s children. But it doesn’t.
When I bought my Range Rover, they had twenty-six other Range Rovers nationwide. They also had a 2006 Mercedes S65 AMG (yes, an S65, with the enormous twin turbo V12 that makes as much power as the entire Croatian military), several Audi S4s, S6s and S8s, a few BMW M5s and M6s, and a long list of Jaguars dating back to 2005. A few months ago, they had a CLK63 AMG Black Series. And they’re all available with a bumper-to-bumper warranty.
It gets better. I paid around $3,000 for my Range Rover’s warranty, which – admittedly – isn’t cheap. But here’s the thing: it lasts for six years and 67,000 miles. Let me repeat that for dramatic effect. Six years. And 67,000 miles. My warranty runs out in December 2018, or when my Range Rover has 125,000 miles on the clock, both of which are a long time and a lot of electrical failures from now.
Land Rover never issued a warranty this long at any point during the vehicle’s existence. Not when it was new. Not when it was certified pre-owned. Never. That’s because Land Rover is well aware that it would only have to sell about nine of these warranties before it was forced to declare bankruptcy and focus instead on its line of rugged hiking boots.
CarMax sold that warranty when my Range Rover was already seven years old. And presumably, CarMax won’t have to declare bankruptcy because for every person that pays three grand for a Land Rover warranty, there are ten who pay the same money for a warranty on an ’09 Altima.
Of course, anyone can sell a warranty. Does it work?
A few weeks after I bought my Range Rover, I took it to the dealership for an oil change. The service department told me I needed about $1,800 in other repairs, as dealership service departments tend to do. The good news? It was all covered by CarMax. I was only out the $50 deductible.
In other words: the six-year warranty paid for half of itself in the first 30 days of ownership.
And so I say, ladies and gentlemen searching for an unreliable luxury car: Go to CarMax. Buy the warranty. And don’t worry about the inflated prices, because you’ll make it back in repairs. Repairs and free donuts.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He operates PlaysWithCars.com and writes for The Truth About Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.