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Unknowingly bought a wrecked car from dealership

We bought a used 2009 Nissan Sentra for our son in late August 2010 from an OKlahoma Nissan dealership. I noticed a low, constant noise coming from the left front of the car, but assumed it was just how that car sounded. My son didn’t notice it on a daily basis because he always has music playing. Fast forward to March 2011. We notice that the sound is much louder now, so we take it to a Nissan dealership in Texas since it’s (barely) still under warranty. They can’t identify what’s causing the noise without pulling off body panels, etc, but they tell us that the car has obviously been wrecked and repaired because it has after-market parts on it. There’s no record of that on CarFax nor did the OK dealership disclose that to us. The Texas dealer notes that it has “front end damage, bent hood, core support, A/C condensor and mounting brackets, bumper shoe horn is bent/shifted. Front bumper has been replaced. Unable to tell where noise is coming from due to damage.”

CarFax shows that the car was owned by a rental company in CA and then sold at auction a year later to Okla Nissan dealership.

I think that the OK dealership would have noticed this when they inspected it prior to selling it to us. We certainly wouldn’t have knowingly bought a wrecked car, plus we paid for a used car, not a used wrecked car!

Concern #1 is structural safety of this car. Concern #2 is how to resolve the issue of being sold a wrecked car in the first place. What should we ask the OK dealership to do to make this right?

If this was known to the dealers who sold it to you they should have disclosed it. If they won’t stand behind it your only other option would be a civil suit. If the car had been “totaled” it should have had a “salvage title” disclosing that fact.

Was the sell price way below book? That might be an indicator it had been wrecked also.

In most states used car sales are specified in the law as “as-is” unless otherwise specified in writing. The only exception would be if fraud can be proven. The seller is not compelled to be aware of prior damage or to disclose prior damage. The burden is solely on the buyer to be sure the car is good.

In this case you did not buy a “wrecked car”, you bought a “repaired car”. Since the Nissan dealer you took it to had to remove body panels to discover that it had been repaired, so there isn’t even any reason to believe the seller should have been aware of it. Inspections focus on safety issues, not seeking evidence of prior damage.

The warranty will not cover damage repair, so that isn’t even in your favor.

The damage discovered does not sound as if it’ll compromise the structural safety of the car. But you may want to ask the dealership that discovered it. I’m only going by your description, they can actually see the parts.

You have no recourse on having been sold a previously wrecked and repaired car unless it was misrepresented in writing or you can prove fraud. Even then you’d need to talk to a lawyer.

Sorry. If it’s safe, then the only thing you can do is get used to the noise or sell the car.

From the problems you list it does not sound like an unsafe vehicle.

Carfax should never, ever be relied on as the final answer as their info is often inaccurate or incomplete. CF is a marketing tool meant to leave the impression that a clean CF means a clean vehicle.

It’s also quite likely the dealership had no idea this accident ever happened. They read the same CF as you do. Odds are they bought the car at auction, sent it to the detail shop for cleaning, and to the line it goes for sale.

If you signed an AS IS disclaimer then the car is yours, warts and all. In OK if you buy a car AS IS and sign that disclaimer you have no recourse at all for any problems that arise, even if someone flat lied.

This is why a thorough inspection BEFORE the purchase can help.

Is the story about the noise being told simply to inform us how you discovered that the car was involved in an accident or is the non-repair of this noise an issue? (perhaps a secondary issue with the main issue being that you unknowlingly bought a car that was in an accident?)

The degree of the accident and the quality of repirs play a part here. Simply because a car was in an accident and then repaired does not mean it exposes anybody to a higher level of danger.

I suggest that you remove all emotional issues and simply post the facts, and what you want done. You do not need to try and sway my opinion by emotional pleas, if you deserve something I will say so, based on the facts.

CarFax doesn’t show a salvage title.

No, it wasn’t.

Why WOULD carfax show a salvage title, or ANY information on this car? Most rental companies are self-insured. They’ll fix a damaged car and I would doubt Carfax has access to their data. Lesson #1 in how Carfax is a tool, not the Final Word.
I also don’t think the dealer has any obligation to disclose that the car had been repaired. They might be obligated to IF you had asked them prior to purchase. Same with buying a house (depending on your State), there are many things the seller need not disclose voluntarily, but if asked must respond truthfully.

Thanks for the info. Just to clarify, the TX dealership did not remove any body panels or any parts. They didn’t charge for their inspection and gave me a written report of what they found from a doing a purely visual inspection. Their service representative pointed out everything to me and I took pictures. The easily visible repairs might not compromise the structural safety, but how do I know what else was damaged that can’t be seen and how it might affect the car’s safety??? Maybe that’s what we should ask the OK dealership to pay for.
I know the warranty won’t help me in this case.

In general I think buying a rental car from the rental company can be a good option. In this case the rental company sent the car to auction. So, the dealer bought the car at auction and they don’t know the whole history of the car either.

Rental companies do their own repair work “in house” including body work. Therefore it won’t show up on a carfax report. Carfax gets info from insurance claims, body shop reports, DMV records, and repair shops that report to carfax (many don’t). Therefore a carfax report can be useful, but it isn’t a complete history of the car. In this case the car had a body repair due to an accident.

From the description the damage was considerable, but most of the replaced parts are easily damaged in a front end impact. It won’t have to have been an extreme impact to cause the damage.

The car was repaired and offered for sale. You might have picked up the body repair in a Pre-sale inspection of the car. Sorry you are disappointed, but you would have to prove the dealer knew the car was damaged and I don’t think “they should have known” is enough to prove that they did know.

I didn’t know that about rental companies or Carfax. Very interesting. I’ve been wondering who would have repaired this vehicle without any official documentation - the rental company or the OK dealership??? It seems like there are lots of ways to withhold information from potential buyers who aren’t car experts.

I Am Not Aware That The Seller Of A Car Has To Reveal That A Car Was Damaged And Repaired. I Always Advise People To Have Used Cars Checked, By Professionals, For Collision Repair, Prior To Purchase.

I warn that a car that would otherwise be covered by warranty could be denied certain warranty work if it had been wrecked and “repaired”.

I buy “Certified Used Cars”. Was this car a “Nissan Certified Pre-Owned Car” ? Most dealers of most car manufacturers offer certified used cars that must pass a 100+ point inspection in order to have the manufacturer “certify” it, making the warranty more similar to that of a new car. As far as I know the dealer submits and keeps a copy of the inspection.

I don’t know if it would do you any good, but I’d pursue this avenue. Perhaps Nissan corporate could help you with your problem. Certified Used Cars are supposed to be like new, right ?

Link to Nissan Certified Pre-Owned:


You need to answer this question first.
Did you buy the car with an “AS IS” sticker in the window and sign an “AS IS” affadavit?

If you did then you have no legal way of making anyone pay for anything. The only way you will get any kind of reimbursement in OK is if you kneel down, beg for mercy, and hope the dealer does something out of the goodness of their heart. Don’t hold your breath on that.

You might have one course of action, have the airbag system checked. If the airbags are mission or non operational, then you do have a recourse. Other than that, I’m afraid you are out of luck.

a low, constant noise coming from the left front of the car,/We notice that the sound is much louder now, …

Does the noise change when the vehicle is turned or a lane changed on the highway? If so then it sounds like a wheel bearing which can be damaged in a collision. No body panels need to be removed for this.

“As Is” means “As Is”…You bought a used rental car that had been sold at auction to a dealer who sold it to you…It’s your problem now. Pass it off to someone else of fix it and drive on…

I think there are 2 points that are being missed:

  1. “No harm, No foul!” If the car was damaged and repaired, that by itself is not a problem. It would be different if there is a problem with the vehicle that can be traced to a faulty repair.

  2. We don’t yet know what the noise is - and that is probably the most important point. Until we do, this discussion is more about ethics.

In other words, we can’t answer the OP’s questions about structural safety and resolving the issue of being sold a wrecked car. At this point, there is nothing to resolve.

That’s why I qualified my answer with a “based on the problems listed”. Just offhand, it sounds like a comparatively minor smack based on how the damage is described.
An example could be the bumper replacement but not the bumper shoe horn. If the impact were great then I’d think that shoe horn would have been mangled beyond recognition and also replaced.

The hood is apparently still bent (?) and based on minor things such as bent condensor mounting brackets, etc. it struck me as the bumper, or valance, taking a whack at comparatively low speed.

As to the noise itself I have no idea as the description of that noise is not very good.
Assuming it’s not an accident induced wheel bearing noise maybe this noise was caused by the towing process after the accident?
The point could be made that maybe someone was so enthusiastic over a new car purchase they did not notice this noise when test driving it; assuming it was test driven at all.

Laws vary from state to state on damaged vehicles. In my state at least it is illegal to sell a car that has been “totaled” or damage exceeding 40% of it’s value without disclosing it on the title as being salvaged. This is from their website:

"There’s another side to salvaged vehicles, and it’s one of which potential used car buyers must be aware.

Auto fraud takes on many forms and methods, but one of the more common types is trying to hide or misrepresent the condition or history of the vehicle.

Of course, this is illegal. Dealers and individuals are required to tell you before you buy a vehicle if it has a salvaged title or was in a serious accident. But, some will fail to do so. Check the vehicle over thoroughly. Many salvaged vehicles may look alright, but have underlying problems such as bad brakes, difficult handling, and poor welding.
Just because a vehicle has been rebuilt doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive, or that it won’t fall apart (literally) a week after you buy it. Additionally, the vehicle may be from a state that has very relaxed standards for salvage titles."