Hidden problem: $1400 a week after purchase
Positives: Max was easy and convenient to work with. They were helpful in allowing me to set up a pre-sale inspection by an independent mechanic. Negatives, short version: The short version is that within one week of purchase a problem presented itself that required ~$1400 to fix. It seems highly likely that they knew about it. Thus my strong advice is DO NOT BUY FROM THEM. Three separate auto repair shops (the one who did the repairs in Charlottesville, the shop that did the pre-sale inspection in Harrisonburg, and a third shop in Charlottesville that I called just to get a totally independent voice) all say that VA Auto Sales either knew or should have known about the problem. All three expressed serious skepticism about the claim by VA Auto Sales not to have known anything about it. Negatives, long version: eight days after purchase the check engine light came on. My mechanic said it was a code for a catalytic converter failure, but that the sensors were sometimes oversensitive and these codes come on for no reason. So he reset it. Seven days later it came back on. Turns out two of the four catalytic converters had indeed failed. My mechanic says that given the timing (coming on within a week), it seems highly likely that the dealer knew about the problem and had cleared the code. As I said, two other shops confirmed this to be the case. VA Auto Sales maintains that (a) they didn't know about the problem (b) they didn't clear the code and (c) it doesn't matter anyway because that's not covered under warranty. That last point is obviously true--I'm screwed with no legal recourse. But points (a) and (b) seem really doubtful given what the three shops have told me. VA Auto Sales claims that if they had cleared the codes (1) a pre-sale inspection would have revealed "pending codes" and (2) the light would have come on much sooner than it did (eight days after). All three shops say that claim #1 is simply 100% not true--if someone clears the code there won't be any "pending code." All three shops also suggest that #2 is not likely either, and so does my experience--my mechanic cleared the code, but then it didn't come on again for SEVEN DAYS afterwards. So it's perfectly plausible/likely that VA Auto Sales could have cleared the code before purchase, and it only came on 8 days later. TO SUM UP: Based on my own experience and the input of three separate auto shops, I find it likely that VA Auto Sales sold me a van that they knew had a major $1400 problem. They are right, though, that I have no legal recourse to compel them to pay. So all I can say is DO NOT BUY FROM THEM.