Just found out my Acura certified car was wrecked

Hello all,
Looking for some advice here. Back in '04 I bought an '03 CL-S Acura (certified pre-owned) from an Acura dealer. No, I did not run a CarFax. Remember, that was 2004, and at that time I don’t think CarFax was widely used. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I finally decided to retire the car for a new (to me anyway) Honda. Found the Honda I was looking for at a dealership about 2 hours from where I live. I had done the “Autotrader” pre-trade thing to get an idea of how much I should expect to get for my car, and was hoping for around 3K. All was well until the Honda dealer ran the CarFax report. Apparently they were anticipating giving me the 3K until they saw that the car had been in an accident (with frame damage) before I bought it! Now the offer goes down to 1K! Based on the report, the car was fixed by a dealer, then certified and resold. The Honda dealer believes that it NEVER should have been certified. Without going through all of the details of the following conversations, I ended up trading it in anyway, after calling Acura headquarters and filing a complaint. Acura told me to contact the dealer that sold it to me and see what they could do. I got their answer today, which is absolutely nothing. They say that since I accepted the trade offer they won’t do anything. I feel like I have been cheated out of 2K. Does anyone have any advice here, or am I basically screwed?

Tough one. I expect any remedy you might have varies state by state. You’d probably have to contact a local lawyer and ask him what your legal rights are in your state. I doubt you’d find this course of action profitable, either time-wise, or money-wise. Me, I’d forget about it and focus on having a new car! Yipee! Well, actually probably what I’d have done after being told the dealer would only give me $1 K for it, and knowing the car has been perfectly functional for 8 years so whatever got broken in the wreck is obviously fixed properly, given all that I’d have up and sold it myself on EBay or Craigslist rather than trading it in, and just paid for the new car without involving the trade in.

Screwed, unfortunately. Most states have a 2 year statute of limitations on tort claims.

It sounds like the dealer pulled a shady one in this case by repairing a wreck and presenting the car as a clean, unmolested unit while deliberately not reporting the damage to Carfax. The financial incentive to pull that is pretty great.

Corporate Acura is just like all the rest; polite apathy. Unless a dealer is robbing banks at lunchtime the odds of corporate ever doing anything to any of them is about zero.

I will only add that Carfax and the word “certified” should always be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve worked for 5 dealers over the years in the service departments in various positions. Only one of the 5 sent every car back to service for a thorough inspection, one sent maybe half back for odds and ends, and the other 3 sent nothing at all to service except for the random, once in a blue moon mutant.

Sorry for your bad luck and I’d be a bit hot too.


I’m not sure if you have any legal options. You bought the car a long time ago. And you did accept the trade-in offer of $1000.

First you’d want to verify for sure that a previous accident would disqualify it for certification. There reasoning might be that it was brought up to standards. You might want to try a small claims action for the $2000. No lawyers needed, you just give your side with documentation and the dealer gives theirs. Then the judge decides and you try to collect. I’m not sure the time frame makes a big difference since you only now became aware of the issue. The other issue is that Carfax can be wrong so you need to verify the accident and the repairs that were made.

Next time wait if there’s an issue. You gave up all leverage when you accepted the trade. You might have gotten slightly more from the Acura dealer.

I wonder if it would have done any good complaining before you traded the car. I’m sure the dealer who sold you the car might have found another reason to weasel out of responsibility. If they sold it to you as a certified car, guess we now know the word " certified " means NOTHING and for many, just an advertising gimmick to extract more money. I feel sorry that it was a $2k lesson to find that out, but we are pretty much on our own as far as many car dealerships are concerned.

“Certified Used Cars” are just that…They are certified to be used cars…That’s it…

your certified car was trouble free. there you go

I don’t believe accepting the offer makes a difference. It actually provides proof that the car was devalued because of the accident. It is now an actual loss, not a theoretical one. The only real issue is the one of time, it may have simply been too long ago. Small Claims court would be the way to go.

I agree with @keith Trading the car has documented his loss. Otherwise there was no loss. Just having a car that is worth less doesn’t constitute a loss/damages until sold. Just like having a house that went down in value. There’s no loss or damages until sold.

Sadly some previously damaged cars get “certified”, The current Checklist is available online, #4 is to check unibody for damage or prior repairs (1-3 all involve the VIN #) and they are supposed to run a Carfax as part of the process

All the OP documented by accepting the trade was the price. Acura dealer could reasonably claim he just got a bad deal.

@ok4450: “I will only add that Carfax and the word ‘certified’ should always be taken with a grain of salt.”

I’ll second that.

I think the OP got screwed by both the Acura dealership and the Honda dealership. If the car was repaired properly, it should have still been worth $3,000. The Honda dealership used that as an excuse to take advantage of you, and it worked. Personally, I would have not traded it in and sold it privately instead, and I probably would have walked away from the deal at the Honda dealership. Now that you’ve traded it in for $1,000, I don’t see that you have any recourse left.

If you have more time than money, you might consider small claims court. Otherwise, I don’t see that worrying about this is worth your time.

Certified and Carfax are nothing more then marketing gimmicks. They are used to increase the price of a vehicle…and make the buyer think they are getting a decent vehicle because it’s Certified and/or there’s nothing on the Carfax report.

Based on Carfax’s admitted lack of data gathering…there’s a 95% chance that if there was an accident it wouldn’t be on the report. But their marketing is big…and many honest dealers are now forced to buy into the service because their unscrupulous competitors have it…thus raising the price of cars (the dealer end of this service isn’t cheap).

Certified cars is usually nothing more then a numbers game. Dealers take the lowest mileage cars…and look for some obvious signs…Then they pluck their certification on it. Some dealers actually will do those 130 point inspections…but many don’t bother.

You didn’t trade a WRECKED car …you traded a full REPAIRED and certified used car that is proven to work perfectly after said repairs.
I don’t see what their problem is with that. ( but the deal’s alredy sealed )

According to Acura, a copy of that certified, 150 point checklist which includes a check for unibody damage is supposed to be placed into the glovebox along with the owners manuals, etc.

If that list was not put into the glovebox and if the dealer was a CF user at the time and if they did not report this damage then it’s not difficult at all to see this as intentional.

I would wager that most people who were going to buy a car at a fair price would have second thoughts and back up if they discovered during the negotiations that the car had been whacked hard and suffered frame/chassis damage even if there were no apparent problems.

Perception alone can be a money killer. If the dealer had taken this car in trade and sat it out on the line I wonder how many customers would run or balk at paying anywhere near the asking price based on the past history damage.

One of our cars where I work (a Ford Escape) was in a pretty minor accident. The only visible damage was a broken headlight housing and a torn bumper. Even in a minor accident like that one, the frame had to be straightened.

These days, it doesn’t take much to bend a frame, and body shops know what they’re doing when they straighten the frame. As long as a car passes my mechanic’s inspection, I would still buy one that had once had a bent frame. I might do what the Honda dealership did, and use it as a bargaining tool, but if it was fixed properly, it was restored to like-new condition, and this should be a non-issue.

I agree with the others. Your recourse here is through the courts. Be aware that it will be a hassle. Make sure you have documentation of everything.

You didn't trade a WRECKED car .....you traded a full REPAIRED and certified used car that is proven to work perfectly after said repairs. I don't see what their problem is with that. ( but the deal's alredy sealed )

Because in many states any vehicle that has been in an accident MUST be disclosed to the buyer. If not it’s called FRAUD.