I was sold a car with an... illegal inspection?

Hey, I can’t talk to the dealership until they open again on Monday, so figured it didn’t hurt to have a 2nd opinion about a car I recently got a couple weeks ago(yes, earlier this month). I’m in VA btw.

I usually don’t jump into a situation without some kinda research, and I had never gotten a vehicle from a lot before, but I got an '07 Saturn Vue because I needed something and idk now what possessed me to not get it checked beforehand. It’s felt pretty smooth but I started to pick up on subtle noises that I wasn’t sure about, so I took it to a local shop for a simple check up to ease my nerves.

Turns out the noises I’ve been hearing are pretty typical for this car(I just wasn’t used to it) and it handles well, buttttt… here’s the ugly thing. When they called me back up, they said they needed to talk to me about something that was bad. The car was on the lift still cause dude wanted to point out something major to me and… the frame rust is -seriously- bad (on both sides, and that’s an understatement) to the point that you could just about put your fist through it. How long it’ll hold is anyone’s guess.

He said I should ask for my money back/get something worked out if anything, [ETA: but yeah, I’ve noted from here and offline that I should contact a state police regardless, which I am doing now. Idk why I entertained the idea of waiting altogether]. The sticker is from December, but, with how dangerous of a shape that frame rust is in, mechanic flat out told me that no way in hell that car legally passed inspection in December, because that was -years- worth of neglect to get to that point. Basically the frame is what caused them to immediately stop going over things because of how blatant a safety issue the vehicle is on that alone, and that it was good that I brought it in the moment I felt uneasy about -something- cause the average person probably would’ve ignored it.

Could see if a tie rod or something relatively minor had play that went unnoticed initially but this?? And it somehow ‘passed’ inspection??! I understand some of these side street places don’t have the best rep but what in the heck…

You should contact the Virginia State Police safety inspection program, this sounds like it shouldn’t have passed as is but they will want to know about this.


Thanks. That was mentioned to me but, as silly as it sounds, I wasn’t sure if it’s something to do from the jump. I’m looking over that link right now.

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They mentioned on there that one of the reasons they don’t have a list of approved shops is that they’ve had to suspend some of them. They’d want to look into this to at least make sure no other cars slip through in this way.

Yeah, it mentions that any ‘list’ is always changing because of shops closing, an inspector being away for a period of time, ya di da… but it does say to contact the nearest State Police Safety Division Office if you don’t feel you have a proper inspection, so… :l

I hope you can get your money back and go to another dealer for a car, as I would not trust anything they wanted to exchange irt for. Can you take it in for an inspection and have proof it will fail?

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I’m hoping it’s simple, too, cause even if I had someone to look over something now, that’s an automatic trust loss… like you say, why would I want annnnything from them after this?

The shop I went to is one that does inspections and isn’t far from the dealership(and don’t seem to…care for the place, to put it lightly) All I can say is when I got called back, the mechanic in particular who looked it over seemed peeved off while showing me the degree of frame rust/rot, which wasn’t even anything to do with why I had went there.

I guess it’s a weird situation because it ‘has a valid’ sticker rn? This shop won’t be open today, so it looks like I might just have to see if I can get a ^ state inspector’s opinion?

The problem with giving the dealer some slack is that it’s likely you aren’t the first customer with safety problems on centaur purchased car. You can see if you can work something out with them first, but still contact the state police about it. Maybe the police could inspect the car before you return it.

Yeah, idk why I entertained the idea of waiting on that, so I edited it the main post that I am trying to contact someone now. Haven’t gotten anyone yet because of ‘normal admin hours’(w/e they are) so looks like it’s a waiting game rn anyways.

ETA: Yeah, they aren’t open til tomorrow morning, so I was told to call them then to address this.

Just like home inspection.
Not responsible for errors or omissions.
An inspection sticker is just an indication car owner has paid fee.

Did you buy vehicle as-is or was a valid state inspection part of the deal sale?

Contact the dealer and see how it goes.

If you get no where with dealer like others said contact the inspection agency in your state. They know what shop and potentially person slapped the sticker on .

Hi Capumb:
This is a tough one.
You purchased an old vehicle with severe rust problems.

You state yourself that you didn’t get the car checked out beforehand.

And now you’re hoping that you can get your money back because the selling dealer put an
inspection sticker on the car back in December, and given all the rust, that inspection sticker was illegal.

Based on what you told us, it does feel like the dealer tried to hide the rust from you. Will the inspection sticker be enough of a “big stick” to get them to voluntarily or legally refund your money? Who knows.

If the dealer refuses to refund your money, are you willing to take it to the state inspection authorities? And if that doesn’t work, are you willing to pay for a lawyer?

I hope you can get your money back with little effort. It’s not clear to me that it will be easy.

Please do reply back when this is over to let us know how this works out.
All the best.

Yep, in my late high school years, I had one of these less than than reputable shops pass my 1992 T-Bird SC. (in VA no less). At the time the car didn’t have a functioning parking brake. But apparently that’s not a big deal. The guy running the shop (only person there other than me). Just had me pull into a bay. Flip on the headlights, then the turn signals, sound the horn, then he just walked around around the car, literally kicked the tires, and proclaimed my car safe for another year of travel. I gave him a $20 bill (state inspection was $12 IIRC), He kept the change, and I was on my way.

Well I am bringing it up to a State Safety soon when they are in regardless because I at least hope that can point me in the right direction of whether I’m stuck in a crap deal or not. I don’t plan on making a big rush like this again either way. Lesson frickin learned.

Yes, I got it under the premise the inspection was valid which I was flat out told by the shop that checked it out for me a couple days ago(which does inspections?) that there is no way it could’ve legally passed and got that sticker just in December with an issue like that that required years of neglect to get to that unsafe of a point. They weren’t even sure of where to direct me about that issue because…yeah, it’s u-g-l-y.

Correct me if I’m wrong but, to my knowledge, someone can sell a car whether or not it passes, but it would have to a valid pass/fail [sticker]? If there was a rejection sticker, I definitely would not have jumped on the car.

Is this a new car dealership, or did you get it from some place like Honest Earl’s Used Cars?

If it’s the latter, those small used car dealerships are notorious for doing their own mechanical and cosmetic work, often to hide, rather than fix, problems. Wouldn’t surprise me if their shop had their own inspector who knows to pencil-whip the checklist for cars they’re trying to sell.

How long ago did you get this vehicle?

I just got it back towards the beginning of this month so just a couple weeks ago and, yeah, it was a place that falls under that latter. :skull_and_crossbones::skull_and_crossbones: That should’ve been an automatic ‘have a mechanic tag along’. I just got got at a bad moment and I’m aware of that now(about the in house ‘inspection’ shams and all that).

Here’s some of the relevant law so get your ducks in a row and go back to the dealer for a “calm but firm discussion” before making any threats, yelling, etc.
Even the worst Dealers want to avoid Court and/or having their License pulled. .



Good luck

I’d definitely side with @Beancounter and add that if you plan to turn them in to the cops, wait until your problem is resolved. They have no incentive to make this right for you if you’ve already gotten them penalized.

It will be interesting to find out the result of this story.

I also wonder if this was an auction vehicle the the used vehicle lot bought and just washed it and set it on the lot for sale . Even if they changed the oil and maybe put tires on it the low paid person who did that would not even look for problems or even know the problem if they saw it.

If it was my problem I would let the Authorities contact who ever put the Inspection sticker first. Of course I would call the dealer and politely let them know that the inspection was being investigated and that might make them take the vehicle back .

Thanks. I’ma take a look at that when I got a min.

So I contacted both a State Trooper and the dealership and this whole thing does feel like it’s fit for TV or somethin. Here’s what’s up:

Dealership - I didn’t yell at them or anything; I ain’t even brought up the fact that I contacted a Trooper. I simply straight up told them about what the shop said about the sticker, how bad the frame rust is, that I can’t keep the car with that kinda condition, blah blah. They’re saying if I can get it there first thing tomorrow morning, their mechanic will look over it to see what’s up and to see what they can do about the whole thing.

It turns out they don’t/didn’t do the inspection themselves. It’s some tire place that does it. Found that out from the paperwork with the car.

State Trooper - He asked for the place of inspection and the sticker number because he could slap -them- for that kinda problem in the end because the car does in fact have to be sold with a valid pass/rejection. However, he says he’s limited in what he can do about the dealership itself, like he can’t force their hand to refund or exchange(somethin somethin about the DMV has more a voice in that kinda thing though he’s not sure offhand what they’d say). I told him I spoke with the dealership and he did say if they refuse to help in any capacity to call him back up about meeting up with him to look the car over so I’m not sure where this is leading tbh. He wouldn’t bother if I was totally out of luck?

Looks like the only solid thing I got going is that the car definitely should not have passed, which means the sticker is beyond bs. So… by extension it shouldn’t have been able to be sold? There would have to be a rejection and a written disclosure on why it didn’t pass.

Guess tomorrow will be interesting because I just don’t know… Whew chile… :expressionless: