Bought used Ford Explorer from large mfgr. dealer - listed wrong options on window sticker

I have attempted to resolve this through the state AG’s offfice, to no avail. My next step will be small claims court. Again, this is a “reputable” longstanding dealership conglomerate which sells new cars for sever manufacturers.

However, I did sign a few places on 40 pages of paperwork, and somewhere on that paperwork it stated the general features of the car I actually purchased (although not all of them). Regardless, this is still a bait-and-switch, since I was negotiating a higher purchase price based upon features the car supposedly had, to later find out it did not have them. The only point I would have caught the discrepancy is upon signing the sales paperwork after the deal was made, but I did not spot them.

The dealer salesman knew I was negotiating upon a 2.0T engine. (I am not that familiar with Ford’s engines; the foam-ish engine cover prevented me from lifting it to actually lay eyes upon what was underneath during inspection.)

This car ended up not having the self-parking feature as stated on the used car sticker on the window at time of purchase. It even had the 6 cylinder engine, and the sticker had claimed the 2.0T (I do a lot of highway miles, so this was important for fuel economy - and the 2.0T is a $995 upcharge over the 3.5 V6, MSRP).

There are a few other more minor features that were listed on the sticker that the car I purchased did not have. The salesman was “selling to the sticker” as well, meaning he never stated (or perhaps never knew) that the car he was selling was different than the options listed on the window. After driving to a gas station to fill it up after purchase, he even made a statement pertaining to how great the 2.0T engine in that car was to drive with.

So, how do I approach this? Small claims?

I was screwed, regardless of my own mistakes. The dealer wanted to offer a few free oil changes only. (This is an outrage, as I first noticed the engine was different only after having to change the oil myself on a Sunday preceding a long road trip after owning the vehicle for two weeks, because after supposedly 45 days on their lot, they’d never changed it!)

At the very least, once this is resolved, I will be on the dealer’s Facebook page and Google Reviews page to share verbatim the absolutely idiotic letter he replied to the AG with, as well as the entire experience.

Did you talk to the sales manager? If not, do so. Explain the problem and show the manager the paperwork. The contract is binding and they have to make good on it. If you already spoke to the sales manager, talk to his boss. There should be a general manager you can talk to. You must show him the contract as well. If you prefer, you can show them a copy of the contract so they can’t destroy it. If this doesn’t work and the dealership is part of a multi outlet dealership, find out who the next in line is. There should be someone at the corporate headquarters you can talk to. You can, of course, bail out and talk to your AG any time.

I have already spoken to multiple ASMs and the GSM for this lot. I have already gone to my state’s AG office. The dealer is still stating that they will not do anything for me.

The problem is not that the contract is incorrect, but that the sticker they had placed upon the window, and information given to me during price negotiations and even post-sale, was incorrect. I do have the sticker that they had placed upon the car. This sticker stated 2.0 T, along with multiple other features the car did not have. Basically, the car we ended up with was V6 and missing options listed upon the window sticker. The contract I signed, post agreeing to the negotiated price, states somewhere that the car is a V6. The contract does not, however, provide a full listing of the options the car contained, such as whether it had self-park or not, ventilated seats, etc.

So, seeing that the dealer has mis-stickered the vehicle, do I take them to small claims to seek restitution?

The value of the vehicle is likely much higher than what is allowable in small claims court although that amount can vary by state.

This may be a toss-up in small claims anyway. The court may look at it as an innocent mistake and the consumer should have read the signed contract which would take precedence over a window sticker.
There’s also the possibility that the dealer and the judge share a common tee time…

Lower echelon judges are quite often not the sharpest knives in the drawer in my opinion and they can often be nothing more than biased hacks.

Your only options seem to be living with the vehicle, head to court, or maybe pay a lawyer a 100 bucks to send them a letter. There’s the possibility anyway that a legal nudge might change their mind.

It’s been a while since I studied Contract Law, but IIRC, the only thing that is binding on both parties is the contract itself. The window sticker is not part of the contract, so as far as I recall, only what is stated in the contract is binding on the seller and the buyer.

If the contract states "AS IS ’ I doubt anything can be done. Actually on a used vehicle Park Assist is something I would not want. If that goes south and takes any programing with it that could be really expensive.

The vin# has codes in it for the engine and transmission and perhaps some other major options. If the vehicle doesn’t match the description on the sticker and the vin# is correct then you were mislead by the dealer. Contact a lawyer.

Remember this on any used vehicle purchase…“Caveat emptor”…(Let the buyer beware). It’s as true today as it’s ever been. Save that sticker by all means.

I dunno, I think you are just stuck myself. My experience with the AGs is that they get your side, then they get the vendor’s side and swap letters and that’s about it. They might urge a resolution but unless they really think that a fraud was committed, they’re just acting as a middle person.

You are relying on a sticker on the window though. Many times if you look at options listed by dealers, it is simply a listing of canned options and they say this particular vehicle may or may not have all of the options. I think it would be somewhere in the fine print on the sticker. I suspect that the dealer would be able to show this in any kind of hearing. A check on the VIN would have revealed the options. So I kinda think this isn’t going anywhere. You might find you get as good mileage and better service out of a V6 though than a 4 and really who needs parking assist? My last V6 had 530,000 miles on the original engine. You wouldn’t get that out of a four.

Used car sales are such a big problem that states have laws specifically applicable to used car sales, and unless fraud can be proven than most state that used car sales are “as-is” period.

If you have the window sticker in your possession, you might get some justice in small claims court. If not, you’re screwed.

And, frankly, it matters not what the dealer “knew”. It only matters what’s written down.

Can I assume from your statement that the AG’s office was no help that you don’t have the window sticker? In that case it’s your word against the written contract. The written contract will win every time.

Frankly, I think you’re going to end up having to accept this as the cost of an education.

I’m also puzzled as to how you failed to find out before signing the purchase and sales agreement that the car didn’t have the options that you claim were on the window sticker. How could that possibly be? Didn’t you check the vehicle out before purchase?

The OP has a window sicker but it not the one that was applied to the vehicle when new. It is one printed by the selling used vehicle dealer. All they have to do is say someone put it on the wrong vehicle.

The one he needs, the one I meant, is the one that was originally there when he looked at the vehicle… if in fact it actually had a different sticker. It being a used car, that would have been printed by the dealer he bought it from.

We only have the OP’s word, and it is possible that the OP made a mistake, or perhaps some erroneous assumptions. Without the sticker that the OP claims was on the window when he looked at the vehicle, there’s no evidence to support his claim. Frankly, a court is going to ask why he didn’t check that the options that he claims the sticker had that he says were important to him were actually on the vehicle. I know I’m wondering.

@sCARred frankly a group of car guys on a car forum aren’t going to be much help in answering a legal question. If you want to pursue a legal solution pay a few $$$ and see a lawyer to discuss your options or head to small claims and take your chances. Personally I think you have a case (dealer misrepresented the vehicle - doesn’t matter if it was an honest mistake or intentional) but my advice is worth exactly what you paid for it just like the others that have posted. Let us know what you decide. Maybe we’ll see you on Judge Judy!

@sCARred furthermore if the VIN on your sticker=VIN on the contract=VIN on the vehicle you have a great chance on winning in small claims court. Proof the dealer clearly misrepresented the vehicle.

Proof the dealer clearly misrepresented the vehicle.
Um, WHAT proof? There's nothing in writing saying OP was interested in a car with the attributes OP claims. All the dealer has to do is deny any misrepresentation, and OP has no proof to the contrary.

Besides, a court will only award a remedy based on the dollar amount of the harm done. It sounds like the car OP got has (very nearly) the same blue book value as the car OP wanted, so where is the actionable harm done?

My2cents, you’re exactly right. The OP doesn’t have a car problem. He has a legal problem.
But I suspect more misunderstanding and erroneous assuming by the buyer than outright dealer fraud here. I’m guessing, but his AG’s office probably drew the same conclusion.

@meanjoe75fan let’s keep this simple. OP does have proof to the contrary if the window sticker has the VIN listed. The OP has a window sticker listing a 2.0L engine and an automatic parking feature. The vehicle has a V6 and does not have the parking option. Match the VIN on the window sticker to the VIN on the vehicle and the vehicle as represented on the sticker doesn’t match the actual vehicle. In my mind that’s proof of a misrepresentation.

@“the same mountainbike” it doesn’t have to be outright dealer fraud. it could be an honest error. It’s still a misrepresentation.

Of course there’s 2 sides to every story and we don’t know the dealers side. But based on what the OP said (and that’s all we really have to go on) I think If all else has failed the OP has enough to go to small claims court. Find a sympathetic judge and he just might win. Weirder things have happened.

the same mountainbike: As far as I know you are 100% correct. The AG presented with a window sticker verses contract signed by OP must honor the legal document which is the signed contract.

I actually would prefer the 3.5L V6 over the 2.0L turbo 4. The Ford “Ecoboost” tubos typically give MUCH poorer MPGs than the EPA estimates. While there’s not a lot of data, the reported actual MPGs on are pretty much the same for both engines.


What remedy are you seeking? Do you wish to return the vehicle and reverse the sale? Or are you looking for compensation on the differential value? This makes a big difference in the approach to a resolution…

What have you asked from the dealer that sold the car?

Were there any witnesses to the conversations with the salespeople other than yourself or dealer personnel?

Personally, I would be seeking some form of compensation. You have plenty of ammunition. What you are demanding as compensation will determine how the ammunition needs to be delivered :wink: