Most car dealers who sell more than five used vehicles in a 12-month period must comply with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) Used Car Rule. Unfortunately, used car dealer scams are all too common and those consumers who have been victimized from these fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices at dealerships may be entitled to financial compensation.
Used Car Dealer Scams
One of more common tricks of motor vehicle sellers is the odomeer rollback. It's the practice of rolling the car's mileage back to make it seem as if the vehicle has traveled less than it actually has. There is a federal law to protect consumers who have been victimized from this tactic. To protect yourself, order a vehicle history report to tell if the vehicle's odometer has been tampered with, prior to a sale.
The number shouldd be aligned properly on the odometer guage. Misaligned or skewed numbers could be a sign on tampering. Electronic odometers that have an asterisk or some other mark in its display are an indication of tampering. GM vehiles with mechanical odometers have black spaces in between the numbers. Visible silver or white spaces are a sign of tampering.
It is required at the time of purchase that you are provided with a written statement of the actual mileage disclosed on the odometer. If you are not provided with one, you may have a claim under the Truth in Mileage Act.
There is a huge market in buying and selling damaged cars. There are even auctions dedicated to selling damaged cars with many only open to dealers or those who intend to resell the vehicles. Those who buy these vehicles from these auctions basically fix them and resell them to third parties without disclosing that the vehicle had any prior damage or has been in any accident. If a car is considered a salvage (declared a total loss after an accident), it's used car value can drop dramatically. For this reason, some used car sellers attempt to rebuild these salvaged vehicles and sell them with a new title. For a nominal fee, consumers can check the vehicle's history report and the federal database of totaled vehicles to protect themselves before deciding to purchase. (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System) There are state consumer protection laws and acts that require sellers of these vehicles to diclose any prior damage.
Similar to "title washing", lemon laundering involves the reselling of a defective vehicle to unsuspecting buyers without disclosing the vehicle's history. Some states require manufacturers to brand a vehicle's title as a "Lemon Law Buyback" and attach a decal to that vehicle indicating such when they buyback a lemon. Some manufacturers get away with this by taking the vehicle to a more tolerant state that does not require rebranding. Check the vehicle's history report to see if you are taking on someone else's misfortune.
Once airbags are deployed, they are sometimes not replaced correctly or in some cases, not replaced at all. Be wary of any used car you are considering with "equipped airbags." They could be outdated, made of improper materials or nonexistent. Be sure to run a CARFAX report before committing to the purchase to see if it has been any prior accidents. If so, get the car checked out by a mechanic to see if the airbag is in proper working order.
Countless car dealers across the country have been selling cars they don't even own. These crooked dealers take in a trade without paying off the outstanding liens. Guard yourself against these unscrupulous practices by insisting on seeing a title before you decide to make any purchase. If the dealer does not have the title, it may be because they did not pay off the outstanding balance. If the dealer does present a title, verify with your state's motor vehicle department to confirm it's legitimacy and that it is not a counterfeit.
"As Is" Scam
There are several states that prohibit "as is" motor vehicle sales. If a used car dealer asks you to sign an "as is" agreement, run off the lot a fast as you can. Every car that is sold automatically comes with a "warrant of merchantability" or an implied warranty with an unwritten or unspoken guarantee that an item being sold is "fit" and does what it is expected to do. Other implied warranties may be included in this law. By signing the "as is" agreement, you are signing those rights away.
Due to Hurricane Sandy and other notorious floofd, an influx of flood-damaged cars were sold across the states. Check for signs of rust or dirt in the glove compartment, moisture throughout the body of the vehicle and other flood-related signs.
"Certified" Used Cars
A used car that passes a certain inspection processcan be labeled as a "Certified Used Car." This is supposed to put the customer at ease, knowing the car should be free from any major flood, flame or fire damage from accidents or acts of nature. A tactic some dealerships pull are labeling used cars as certified when they are not. To protect yourself from this scam, ask to see a copy of the inspection certificate. Acquire a vehicle history report and always get a used car inspected by an independent certified mechanic before buying.
Using the Language Against You
Just as in new car dealer transactions, dealers must also abide by the laws for used car sales if a purchase of a vehicle is mostly negotiated in Spanish. A Spanish translation of the contract must be given to the customer before signing the English version. If that's not possible, a waiver has to be signed stating that the terms of the contract were explained in the customer's language and they fully understood it. Failure to do so gives the customer a right to rescind. A Spanish language Buyers Guide must also be posted on the vehicle before being displayed or offered for sale.
If you feel you were untreated fairly at a dealership while shopping for a used vehicle, give our firm a call at (855) 432-8475 for a free case evaluation or complete the form below.