Most Common Problems
Easily the most frequent complaint involving used cars is that it was in a wreck and the dealer did not tell the purchaser.
Undisclosed Prior Collision
Easily the most frequent complaint involving used cars is that it was in a wreck and the dealer did not tell the purchaser. Generally, if the dealer knows of a material defect, he is under an obligation to tell you. But don't leave it up to them to tell you, ASK them. Ask the salesperson where they bought the car, who owned it previously, if the car has been inspected for safety, has it been in a wreck, was it a rental.
The dealer the responsibility to tell you the truth. If they do not know, they then have the responsibility to either say they do not know, or to investigate. The most important factors are what you asked the dealer, and what they told you.
Very often the dealer will tell the consumer that the car was fully serviced and inspected, "it's a great car." If the car is fully serviced and inspected, then the dealer has assumed an obligation to:
- actually look at the car.
- repair the problems revealed by the inspection, and
- disclose what they learned in the inspection and servicing.
Too often this does not happen.
Prior Rental Car
Rental car fleets typically sell their cars when the manufacturer's warranty expires. They are usually sold at auction and bought by major dealers. Everyone has seen the recent television commercial in which tourists in Hawaii abuse their car with the punch line "it's only a rental." Amusing, but not if you buy one without having the history disclosed to you. California requires that the rental history shall be clearly identified as such. Failure to do so may be fraud.
The more you know about the car, the better. Ask questions. Get an independant mechanical inspection before you purchase. The Vehicle Code requires that dealers post notices telling the purchaser that they may, at their own expense," have the vehicle inspected by an independent third-party either on or off these premises."