Dealer doctoring defects?

just bought a '03 taurus with 89k, it was polished and detailed to look like a brand new car, and it drove like one, too. after a day or so, the brakes began squealling, there’s sometimes a clunk when shifting, and rattles on rough roads, sounds like there’s junk in the trunk, but there’s not. I wonder if they doctored up a clunker and I got taken.

Did you take the car to a mechanic of your choice for inspection before purchase?

Maybe they will fix it cheaply. Cars used to come with a thirty day warranty at least. You had to get the car cheaply so I hope you don’t mind a few problems. After all; it wasn’t a Camry. The dealer didn’t fix anything on the car before you bought it, they just cleaned it up.

New car dealers are generally reasonably good about selling only cars that are in decent shape. The ones that are not in good shape, they don’t fix, they sell at auction to the independent used car lots.

Independent car lots have the art of cheaply hiding problems down to a science. They generally won’t hesitate to do things that actually damage the car in an effort to hide a rattle or leak.

Most used cars are sold “As Is”. Did your paperwork say that? The only leverage you have is if there is something wrong with it that makes it illegal (e.g. emission controls inoperable) or unsafe (e.g. brake or steering problems). Anyone with a dealer license cannot sell a car that is illegal or unsafe. You might argue that non-steering suspension problems are a safety problem. Other than that, you bought it.

Did you get a Carfax or any other VIN report? With all the Katrina and Rita cars still out there, and more coming with Gustav, I would never consider a used car without such a report. Salvage titles can be cleaned by these clunker doctors. VIN reports are forever.

Thanks for the replies. I bought this from a small independent lot who got it from a new car dealer up the street. It was a 1 owner local car, priced right, at 5k, and it had nary a squeak or rattle when I drove it, so I bought it. I am still confident that it’s a good car and I plan to get around to having it inspected to see how much more it’s going to cost me. A little late, I know.
I remember he old days, hearing about bannana peels in the tranny, and Motor Honey to hide bad rings. Wonder what they do nowdays. Anybody know?

Check trans fluid level or try getting your transmission fluid changed and a new pan filter. That might get rid of the shifting clunk. That would be the most worrisome problem. I had an Aerostar that did the same thing.
See if your tire jack is secured ok. Or, just take it out and see if the trunk clunk goes away.
Brskes are inexpensive. Most places check for free.
You still might have a diamond in the rough.

The odds of the dealer “doctoring” a car are near zero. You bought a 6 year old car with near 90k miles on it.

The dealer bought this vehicle no doubt at an auction or wholesale from the dealer.
The dealer likely drove this vehicle no further than onto the car hauler and into the detail shop.

It’s up to the prospective buyer to have the car thoroughly inspected before buying it or at the very least; actually taking the car on a test drive that is cnsiderably longer than around the block.

If you did not test drive the car for a long distance or have it inspected before the purchase I’d say they did not doctor anything, you did not get taken, and should have done your homework before signing the paperwork. A used car is a collection of used parts; all of which are subject to wear, tear, and failure at anytime.

(As to the transmission clunk you might consider having the right rear transmission mount inspected.)