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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Used Car Consumer Protection

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: PA

    Six months ago my daughter bought a used car from a local dealership. We felt the price was a little over what it was worth (according to Blue book etc) We were able to get the total down. Before purchase we asked about certain concerns on the car. It is a 2003 Honda Accord (had 95,000 miles on) decent body with a few surface rust spots. A few of our concerns were if it had a timing belt/chain and if it was replaced or checked to be in good condition. They felt since it was a chain it should be fine and didn't think needed changed unless something occured. Also the dealership stated the car had brakes, plugs, etc (normal basics) replaced. With getting the price down a little they said we would sort of be taking car as it is, but if there was something major in the next few months they would definately work with us on it. 3 weeks after use we noticed excessive oil consumption. (had to add a quart of oil every 300-400 miles) We contacted our salesman which in turn said he needed to talk to his manager and would get back to us. After several months of calls (and getting from them they needed to talk to so and so and would get back to us, it took my talking to the owner of the dealership to finally get anywhere. Even at that it took over a week to hear from his service manager to set up an appointment. In that weeks time the car's check engine light came on (took to local auto parts store for reading) stated that one of the cam shaft position sensors needed replaced. Figuring the car was going to the dealership in 3 days anyways, we left the car sit till then. At this point the car wouldn't start and was towed to them. Later that day we were told the spark plugs needed replaced and the cam shaft sensor ($360) but couldn't do it until 2 more days and they still needed to figure out why it was burning oil. On day new parts replaced they said the timing chain was bad and needed replaced (another $1400) but that still wouldn't of solved the oil problem. Then a few hours late I got a call from the owner saying that it was best we just junk the car, there was no guarantee it would ever be running properly. So they would refund some of our money, take the car and look for us another used car for our daughter.
    But unfortunately my daughter had someone come at her head on and she had to swirve to avoid being hit and scraped the passanger side of car. So they needed to take off $2500 for that damage, also take off another $500 cause they felt the tires needed replaced. (which they were just checked a few weeks prior and were in fine condition for winter) He also told us they were just going to get rid of the car at the auto auction for parts. The car with tax, plates etc cost her $9000. she put down $5000 and financed $4000.
    They will give her $5000 after damage, wear n tear (in 6 months) was taken off. By the time she pays off the loan she will $1500 left to purchased another one of their used cars and will have to finance the rest. My problem is.. if the car engine is junk and they are basically junking it themselves why should they worry about taking off the repair damage to the body. Also for the car to become junk after 6 months of use (and mind you we noticed problems within the first month) but they dragged it out could the car (knowingly or unknowingly) had major problems and they sold it anyways in hopes they didn't arise till much later so they could say it was the drivers fault. We even asked about getting it repaired (since she loved the car otherwise) but they said we should just junk it and move on. Are there any laws in PA to protect against a situation like this (that they should refund full payment) or informatioini on possible lemon law (not sure if this would work under that or not) Just really upset to see my 18 yr old daughter lose out on all this money, plus the car and have to start all over again, knowing she'll be paying more all the way around.
    Thank you so much for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Used Car Consumer Protection

    I would assume that they were interested in minimizing their loss by chopping the car. There's a market for used car parts, including panels. Also, sometimes a dealer will take the mechanicals from a car that has body damage and insert them into a car that has a decent body but lousy mechanicals, thereby getting a decent car out of two junkers. But if you want to know what they're thinking, you would need to ask them.

    Given that you bought the car as-is, and are returning it with significant body damage and a non-functional engine, it sounds like you're lucky the dealership is offering you anything. The difference between the price they're offering and the purchase price is about $3,500 - after the body damage, that's about $1,000. For six months of driving and depreciation, the mechanical failure aside, $1,000 isn't that much money. It isn't their fault the car was damaged. There's also a good chance that the reason the car is so severely damaged is that your daughter neglected an oil leak, and possibly continued to drive the car even after the "add oil" light came on (think of that light as meaning, "pull over ASAP and stop your car to avoid destroying the engine.")

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Re: Used Car Consumer Protection

    I understand what you are saying. And I do understand they want to protect themselves. I also understand how car dealers work. The damage on her car is very minor. There is a scrap from the middle of the front fender to the passenger door. Most of it could be buffed out, but they said they'd need to paint the whole side and try to match the paint etc. To even see the damage you have to really look. I'm sure that is their way to protect them and get more money. When she bought the car it even had a similar scratch but lower on the rocker panel.
    But that still doesn't excuse the fact that within the first few weeks she had it we noticed the oil consumption. She faithfully checked her levels and added oil at least once a week if not twice. My son knows a lot about cars and had been keeping up with problem, checking for leaks etc.. There was never anything that showed a leaking problem, so knew it had to be something internally and since they had said even though there wasn't a warranty they would take care of us, but they dragged their feet in doing so which lead us to this point now.
    I just wondered if they knew of this problem and hoped they could get away with selling it and the problem not being brought to their attention. I didn't know what the consumer laws were in situations like this. I still feel uneasy why they say just to junk the car and not even let us try fixing it or even putting in another engine.

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