Dealers really are crooks

Just purchased a 2001 Civic 2dr 120K miles and got it for a very good price. Now mechanically the car is in wonderful condition and I have a glovebox full of dealer receipts to show the previous owner spent good money maintaining the car. I broke my own rule regarding a pre purchase inspection because the price was frankly amazing and these cars are in high demand. The body had some slight rust in the usual places for a Honda (wheel wells). Owner told me vehicle needed new exhaust manifold and he was frankly brutally honest about the car he’d had for 10 yrs. Luckily I have free access to a garage and labor so I wasn’t overly concerned about any needed repairs for a safety certificate. We fixed the manifold in 30 min with an arc welder and a new flange and spring kit. Here comes the bad part. Inner rockers and brake lines and even the proportioning valve are rotten from rust. This vehicle visited the dealer from where it was purchased every 90 days for 10 years and the owner overpaid for everything including oil changes. Never once did they mention that he might want to spend $200 on undercoating? They took his $800 and $900 for what would basically be called routine maintenance but couldn’t be bothered to point out the obvious cancer already present? IMHO this is like visiting the doctor who cures your hiccups but fails to mention you have a tumor.

" I broke my own rule regarding a pre purchase inspection because the price was frankly amazing and these cars are in high demand." No…naive buyers get what they deserve. If the price is too good to be true, it usually is.

“Dealers really are crooks” No again – there’s a sucker born every minute.

Sir I paid $700 for a vehicle that wholesales over $1400 and retails over $3000. Cost for me to repair is about $300 so I have $1000 into a very nice Civic I could easily flip for 3 times the money. My beef is these dealer mechanics were thorough enough to mention the amount of pad left on the brakes but not interested in the rockers? It’s like they wanted the vehicle to disintegrate so the owner could buy a new one. I could almost understand if the owner bounced from shop to shop cherry picking on service but he paid the dealer through the nose for service. I’m upset for him not me. Like I said, I can drive that car for 3 yrs and double my investment.

" I broke my own rule regarding a pre purchase inspection"
Sorry for your trouble, do you think a pre-inspection would have picked up " Inner rockers and brake lines and even the proportioning valve are rotten from rust"
In fact I am not even sure how to check those .

Barry if that question is for me then absolutely. Once the car was on the rack it took 1 minute to find the rust.

Too bad you broke your own rule.

Out here in the PNW we don’t worry about rusty cars, at least I don’t. However, we have a family beach house that has some rust issues

I fail to see where the dealer ripped you or anyone else off and I’ve never seen a listed maintenance procedure on any car state “Inspect For Rust”.

So if you or the prior owner had taken that car in for service say back in 2006 and were told that rust was developing or had become a problem then it could be stated that the dealer was just trying to scare someone into buying a new car.

So if you flip this wholesale car for a couple or 3 grand one would hope that you will point out the rust to a potential buyer before they hand the money over.

You refer to overpriced oil changes, etc and apparently do not understand how the flat rate system between dealers and independent or fast lubes works or how dealer parts pricing is done in comparison to auto parts houses, etc.

I would expect a $700 car to have some problems . . . as is the case here.

Sounds like for $700 you got a fair price. If however the price was $3000 and with the problems then the dealer is wrong and you’re gullible.

Undercoating would not prevent this kind of rust and in fact undercoating can trap water and salt and actually promote more rust damage. I suspect the guy was told that rust was developing but it wouldn’t be on a normal inspection report.

I completely agree with you !!! And though others have alluted to the real problem you have the most applicable reply of all to this situation.

The wheel well had slight signs of rust ? With all do respect., there are no slight signs of rust and what you see is but x1% of what there actually is. It was up to you to prod the area with something sharp to look for penetration and get down on your back and crawl underneath and look. If you aren’t willing to do this with any older car, even a newer one…expect to be taken advantage of. AND NEVER TRUST ANYONE WHO BENEFITS FINANCIAL FROM SELLING YOU ANYTHING. One time undercoating accelerates rust and run away from any car that claims it has been done. It’s same as saying, "we sealed your car and clogged your drain holes so moisture could not get out"
You did not get skewed , YOU skewed yourself…and $700 is still too much to pay for the car. With that slight perforation, and rusted frame supports ( yes rockers are part of your frame) our state may make it uninspectable…IT’s a junker !!! Do what you want but I would not feel safe it it…just don’t breath too deeply when you are or hit anything stronger then a fence post.

Everyone seems to have missed that OP is upset for the previous owner, not himself. He’s angry that the owner took the car in for oil changes and the lube tech didn’t take the car apart and inspect every crevice for rust. OP does not feel that he was ripped off.

However, OP is still wrong. When you take your car to the dealership for an oil change, they’re probably using lube techs, not full-fledged mechanics, to do the work. In other words, you almost might as well take it to Jiffy Lube. They know how to change the oil, change the oil filter, fill the washer fluid, and dab transmission fluid on a color card to tell you that it’s just gotta be changed right now.

Even if they are using actual mechanics, the mechanics are going to do the work they’re assigned. If they have to take the wheels off and get a flashlight and poke their heads into every little corner to make sure there isn’t any rust, they’re gonna have to charge the customer, and customers tend to be pissed off when their oil change costs $300.

AND even if the mechanic decided, out of the goodness of his heart, to inspect the car for free, it’s entirely possible and even probable that he found the rust, told the owner about it, and the owner dismissed it and refused to get it fixed.

In short, there’s a lot of scenarios here - ignorance, task management, and owner stupidity - that could have happened which do not involve the dealers being “crooks.”

" Sir I paid $700 for a vehicle that wholesales over $1400 and retails over $3000. "

No Offense, But You’re Talking About An Old Beater Car Like It’s A Late Model Car.
This Vehicle Is 11-1/2 To 12-1/2 Years Old !
Where Are You Getting These Used Car Values ? Did You Factor In Rust And Usafe To Drive ?

I wouldn’t give more than a few hundred bucks for a rusted out car and that would only be in an emergency.

You’ve learned an important lesson on buying a car you thought was in terrific shape. The lesson is that blue book prices don’t apply to old cars, at least they don’t in my book. Condition is everything on old beaters, that doesn’t just mean mechanical condition, as you discovered.

What if the seller not only didn’t inform you of the rust (since you decided to forgo an inspection), but what if the seller hadn’t disclosed previous collison repair that wasn’t done properly and you couldn’t keep tires on the car because of excessive wear ?

Now you know for nest time that not only are mechanicals important, but the car body is important, too. Mechanical repair shops (including dealer service departments) don’t do body work. That work is done in a body/collision shop (most dealers have one.

People who read my comments to people buying used cars will attest that I advise buyers, that if they don’t know what they’re looking at, to have the car checked for body damage/collision repairs in a body shop to be sure that there is not a problem. I have no doubt that a bodyman would have discussed the rust issue and advised you, accordingly.

Anyway, it’s an old car, an old rusty car. Condition is everything. You were sold a car that was not safe to drive. You got what you paid for, an old, rusty car. Flip it if you’d like, but without disclosing the rust issue, you’d be as bad as you imagined the dealer to be.

Live and learn, but don’t blame the dealer. If it really is in fantastic mechanical condition then you can thank them for it.


I hear you but the original owner dumped a perfectly good car in excellent mechanical shape for $700…why? The car was at a time when it would not pass inspection…HE KNEW and was not brutally honest about it being a rust bucket. He was lucky that gullible OP who does not think the body is worth an inspection, happened along. No, I believe OP knows he got taken for a ride on a car he should have known, was too good to be true. The old theory of relativity of car buying; “from my point view it’s a great buy cause I’m not looking at any other” ( point of view)

I’m sure my opinion won’t change the thinking of the OP. Yet, the original buyer of this particular Civic was likely offered undercoating and declined during the new car purchase ritual. After the car has been on the road for even a winter, doing undercoating at that point isn’t helpful.

So over the years the customer goes to the dealer for service. How often are dealers faulted for “upselling”. Certainly the customer might have gotten tired of hearing “sir your car is rusty” every time he brought it in for an oil change. In places like upstate NY you expect rust. In FL you don’t see it except on “northern” cars. The seller must have known or expected rust issues, hence the below market $700 price.

An 10+ year old car in a rust belt area (due to treating roads with salt in the winter) should have a “safety inspection” periodically looking for issues where rust affects safety. In PA the yearly inspection can be a failure for things like rust on the frame, suspension, and even holes in the body where exhaust fumes can enter the cabin. If this car was registered in a state with yearly inspections the owner was aware of the rust.

“if you or the prior owner had taken that car in for service say back in 2006 and were told that rust was developing or had become a problem then it could be stated that the dealer was just trying to scare someone into buying a new car.”

Virtually all of the complaints that we hear about dealers in this forum is that they, “overreach”, with their recommendations for car maintenance and repair. As a result, I strongly suspect that most people–if told that their car had serious rust damage–would accuse the dealership of resorting to scare tactics.

If the previous owner had requested that the car be inspected for rust damage and was told that all was well, then I could understand the outrage. But, under the stated circumstances, I don’t see that the OP is justified with being outraged on behalf of the previous owner or on his own behalf.

The reality is that the OP bought a 12-13 year old car for a suspiciously low price, and failed to exercise due diligence prior to purchase. What was that old saying? You get what you pay for?

Please don’t view me as being unsympathetic to this person’s plight. I just think that the OP’s outrage is unrealistic.

Everything in life–no matter how negative–has the potential to be a learning experience, and I think that the OP should view this situation as a learning experience.

I will bet the dealer is the most honest in this triage of convoluted stories. I bet the dealer told the original owner all about the car being or shortly being uninspectable and THEY wanted no part of taking the car in. There are two people who are responsible…the buyer and the seller…snooker and the snookie…and OP; he be the snookie.
BTW…never get your car undercoated for rust prevention after the factory original or you be the snookie too.

This may be excessive rust…but not unusual for a vehicle that’s 13 years old. I do agree that the dealer should have least informed you if there was a problem. Not all dealers are crooks…I personally would never take my vehicle to this dealer. There are a few shoddy dealers near me that I won’t go near…I drove 20 miles past one dealer to another dealer to buy my new 98 Pathfinder.

And if you can’t do the work yourself…then I’ve ALWAYS suggested to find a good local mechanic. Dealer prices are way way way too expensive. The hourly rate they charge is almost twice that of the local mechanics around here.

If I understand your post correctly, your purchase met your expectations all things considered but you’re commenting on the receipts that were stored in he glovebox.

And I agree, dealers generally charge much more than independant shops, often do unnecessary repairs, and their goal often seems to be to drain the customer’s bank account.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the prior owner had a long term relationship with a typical dealer. But when I think about my ex, I realize I’m in no position to criticize the relationships of others…only to pity.