Auto Dealer Fraud? Liability?



I bought a used car in late July under the false pretense that the car was flawless and the reason for the low mileage was that it had been garaged after a break up. I got into a small accident and I brought the car to my body shop to have it worked on, the body shop called me back and told me that there was severe structural/frame damage that had tried to be repaired and was starting to fall apart. I was never disclosed this by the dealer, do I have any recourse? Carfax came up clean, and the dealer is offering to have the people who did the sloppy job repair it. Can I make him pay to have it done at my local body shop and possibly recieve some compensation for decrease in value of car as well as loss of time without car?



I assume by “garaged after a breakup” you mean the dealer told you it was parked in a private home garage and not being driven solely because of the then owner’s domestic dispute. I assume the severe damage would have been apparent to the dealer upon inspection in its shop, but would not have been apparent to you in an ordinary visual inspection on the lot. I also assume you did not pay a “too good to be true” low price for the car. The dealer’s statement was a material misrepresentation which the dealer knew or should have known was false. It will void the contract and you should return the car and demand a full refund. Should they refuse, you could sue to rescind the contract and seek additional punitive damages for the fraud. Depending on your state, the dealer/seller may also have been obligated to advise you in writing of any known defects in the vehicle. Not doing so would give you additional legal remedies. You are not entitled to expenses or loss of use related to your “small accident”.


your right, i was told it was parked in a private garage. also, the damage was not apparent to me and i did pay a little below the kbb price but nothing tooooo good too be true. however, the small incident i have insurance to cover. as far as returning the car, i want to keep it. except, i want the frame damage to get fixed by my body shop. the damage which includes some serious misalignment of frame, as well as firewall being pushed back quarter inch and welds holding strut tower on after it was ripped off are coming apart.


You may also have a remedy available through CarFax which provides insurance, up to the purchase price, in certain instances for purchases made in reliance on their report. The damage you describe should have triggered a CarFax entry. Check your report for warranty information and check with Car Fax asap about coverage. Don’t let them blow you off - the purpose of their business and their reports is to avoid just such occurences - that’s why you paid them. With the frame damage you describe, you can expect nothing but problems with this vehicle no matter who or how it is repaired. Don’t compound the problem - return it for a refund and find another car. If, nonetheless, you insist on keeping it, tell the dealer they are obligated to fix the non-accident frame damage at the shop of your choice, and to your satisfaction, not theirs. You cannot trust this dealer. They clearly knew about the frame damage/repair, because they acknowledged to you thay know who fixed it originally. If they balk, tell them you will pursue every legal remedy available to you, including consumer fraud and punitive damages.


First off, never put all of your faith in CarFax. It is only a small tool to be used in making a decision.

A vehicle should always be inspected BEFORE you plunk your money down.

Do not assume the dealer knew of these problems. They could have purchased it at auction or taken it in trade not knowing or discovering this problem.
You did not notice the problem, so why do you assume they noticed it?

In most states you have no recourse on a used car sale. If it had an “AS IS” disclaimer in the window and you signed the as is affadavit then you’re out of luck legally.
In the states where you may have recourse the criteria can be pretty slim.
It seems to me you’re asking an awful lot with the compensation on lessened value and loss of time.

So what kind of car is this and how many miles on it?


03 tiburon gt, 5000 miles

i did not sign a as-is affadavit. and the car did come with some form of 30 day warranty. its just odd to me how more and more facts about the car are arrising. alot of the things coming out of the dealers mouth are not lining up right. mainly the fact that he wants the car to be brought down to this said bodyshop where the work was originally done by some kid who worked there on the side. after some investigation i found out this kids name and address and made out on the title that it was signed over from him to the dealership. i called the autobody place several times, they dont know that “kid” nor does he work there. they know the dealer but no plans have been made to bring it there nor did they know it was supposed to be coming and lastly the car was supposedly never worked there nor do they supposedly know where it was done. all those questions were asked at different times, not in conjunction, idenitity not revealed. just general questions


Your paperwork should spell out details as to what is or is not covered by warranty. Since a 30 day warranty is spelled out this probably means that only mechanical problems are covered and you probably reside in an “AS IS” state; said state would be?

Also, in the auto sales world car dealers and salesmen are allowed to “whoop it up” about a car. This is referred to as “puffing” and is generally perfectly legal. In some cases it may be lying or borderline lying; much like a politician running off at the mouth.
A dealer may say that a car is in Grade A, Number One, showroom condition and in reality it may be rolling junk. It’s legal to do this.

About all I can suggest is giving us the state you live in and maybe someone on here will be familiar with the used car dos and dont’s there.
Failing that, you might contact your state AGs office or website and find out info on this.

I know that in OK once you buy a car “AS IS” it does not make one iota what the dealer said. The dealer can be the biggest liar on the face of the earth and the car belongs to the new owner no matter what. Only in a very, very narrow situation could an individual win one of these deals.


Massachusetts. regardless of the fact, he sold me a car with frame damage and structural damage. also this fact, and the fact that it was sold to me without my knowledge to either of this i believe is against the law, and very much such so in massachusetts. also, i was told it was never in an accident so i believe thats misinterpretation? which is illegal too. or so i hear


I think MA can be tough on this but since the transaction was in July you may be stuck. Whether the dealer lied or not may not matter. If you took him to court you would have to prove that he lied. He could just claim he never said any such thing.

Here’s some reading material on this issue. Maybe you can sort some of the legalities out this weekend.

Will browse through it some more myself.


Uh, oh. Did run across this comment on another site in regards to MA used car warranty.

It states that any warranty will NOT apply if defects: (cut and pasted)

are caused by repair attempts made by someone other than the dealer, its agent, or the manufacturer.

Since neither the dealer nor the manufacturer did the repair, it may be debateable as to whether the law will assume the body shop involved is an “agent” of the dealer.
That’s a question for the legal guys, just like the 90 days from date of sale issue.


From the information you have supplied, at a minimum this dealer knew the car had been in an accident that caused serious frame damage, knew it had been repaired and very likely knew the repairs were poorly performed. However, you were specifically told the vehicle had never been in an accident, and that its low mileage was due to a reason unrelated to an accident. The latter statement was clearly a further attempt to conceal the accident and repair downtime that accounted for the low mileage. That is not mere “puffing”, it is deliberate and intentional fraud. If you can prove what you have said, in CA you could nail this dealer to the wall, notwithstanding “as is” law, or 30 day warranty limits or the like. I suspect you can in MA as well.


“the damage which includes some serious misalignment of frame, as well as firewall being pushed back quarter inch and welds holding strut tower on after it was ripped off are coming apart”

To be brutally blunt with you, I would not take a car in that condition if it was free. Part of the reason is that this vehicle DOES NOT HAVE A FRAME, and the unibody structure that it does have, in lieu of a frame, is something that is not easy to repair properly.

And, even if it appeared to have been repaired properly, I doubt that this car would retain its structural integrity in the event of a collision. Also–all of the places where the unibody was stretched/re-aligned/welded will be very subject to rusting as a result of the loss of the original factory anti-rust treatment in those areas.

If I recall correctly, Massachusetts is an area where a lot of cars are subject to rusting anyway, and this car will surely become a rust-bucket in key structural areas that are not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Translation–All-in-all, this car is not really safe.

If I were you, I would persist in attempting to get satisfaction from the dealer, but whether I was successful or not, I would dump that car as soon as I could.


See a lawyer. Many of them will do an initial consultation free or at a reduced rate. Bring along your paperwork from the purchase and a description of the car’s condition from your body shop. I suspect the lawyer will say that you will have to prove that the dealer deliberately lied in order to get anything.

The dealer appears to be making some effort to help you. Perhaps you can talk them into taking the car back and selling you something different. The next time, get a pre-purchase inspection from a competent, independent mechanic!


I am a car dealer in Idaho, not MA, but most of the basics are the same, especially with the “As Is” sticker, which is a federal form.

While there may well have been a warrantee on your car, the limits of that warrantee are clearly spelled out on the form. If you read it closely, you will find that only certain parts of the car (typically the engine and transmission) are covered. This warrantee does not state that the car is completely free from defects, nor will it state that the dealer will fix any and all problems with the car.

While it is possible that the deealrship knew about the damage, it is just as likely they did not. Not every car on every lot gets a thorough check. To win a suit against a dealership, you would have to prove they knew about the damamge and directly lied to you by stating there was no such damamge. Simply stating that the car is in good order and a real “creampuff” does not constitute a warrantee that the car is 100% free from defects.

In the future, it is wise to take any car you are thinking about purchasing to a reputable and trusted mechanic for a thorough check up. This will cost you a little money, but nothing campared to what you are experiencing now.

As for the culpability of the dealer, they are not obligated to fix the car, and anything they do to satisfy you is done on a “goodwill” basis. In fact, if they do any work to the car, you will likely be asked to sign a form that states the work is done on a “goodwill” basis, and in no way constitues a warrantee on the vehicle.


Not to make light of the situation, but the dealer saying “garaged after a breakup” may be accurate. The car seemed to have broke up and needed to be garaged.

The best thing you can do is talk to a lawyer that deals in consumer rights. It will be well worth the $100.00 or so fee that you may have to pay.


I agree with your comments. People buy a used car, which is a collection of hundreds of used parts, and whenever a problem surfaces it is always assumed that the “dealer knew about it”. Maybe, maybe not.

A dealer I worked for once took in trade an extremely clean Caprice (near showroom condition) with extremely low miles (under 10k).
He sent the car out for detail and it sold almost instantly.

A few problems developed later on the dealer agreed to take care of and one of those problems involved partially removing the front carpet on the driver’s side.
We discovered a nasty looking weld and further examination showed that the car had been spliced; front half of one to back half of another, right back of the firewall.

The dealer was under no obligation to but he bought the car back from the purchaser and dumped it at auction.
No way in the world would anyone have known that car was a “hybrid”. It would not have been noticed underneath because the undercarriage had been heavily undercoated.

So here’s a case of the general public dumping a headache off on a dealer. Happens all of the time and the dealer used to say frequently; “The gen’ral public done learned me ever thing I know”. :slight_smile:


well you guys are gonna love this… i stalked down the previous owner and he couldnt believe i had the car, he said he pretty much destroyed the car into a pole and he couldnt believe there was any way that car could have in any way or form ever be made safe or driveable again. he said his insurance company totaled it and sold it at an auction. the title shows his signature being endorsed by the dealership manager right under…

any ideas of how much my options have expanded now?


You are saying that this car has a fraudulent title? Probably the State Police criminal division is your next call.


OTOH, if you take what you have found out to the dealership, they may offer you a refund. YOu might be better off with this solution.


i think i have alot more leverage to sue now