Tips on Buying Cars/bad used car deal


I bought a 2011 malibu from a dealer.I was told the car had never been in an accident.  6 weeks later I found out that the whole driver's side of the car has had body work. The auto body shop I took my car to says that both fenders, both doors, and bumper have been repaired.  He said there is no way the dealer could have missed  it.There is bare metal in wheel wells , bondo showing. When I took it back to dealer after they "examined" it they agreed that it had been in an accident.  They claim  they never knew anything about it.  they say they don't check cars for body damage only mechanics check the car for safety issues.  Also the  rear defrogger  doesn't work either.  They said they would replace the car.  They have since offered me a 2012 that they were selling for $600 more than what I paid for my car, but they wanted $1000 more.  Then they offered me a 2011  that is out of warranty (mine still had 5,000 miles left).  they tell me they can
keep my payments the same by giving me a 75 month loan instead of the 72 month laon I have now.  Everything they have offered me so far will cost me more money.  I asked to just get my $4000 down payment back and I will go  somewhere else.  they say they can't do that because they would only be able to give me the depreciated value of the car since I already took it off the lot.
I am not driving it.  It has been two weeks and they still don't have a car for me.  buyer is out of town, they are looking.  what are my options.  since it was their error I feel I should not have to suffer any financial loss


I am sorry it took me so long to respond to you ...I just this second saw your question and I hope this gets to you in time.

YOU have the winning hand here do NOT let them jack you around for 1 more day! Here is how you get this thing wrapped up to your satisfaction.

But first I have a couple of questions for you:

1. What state are you in?
2. You say you bought the car from a dealer, was this a new car dealer or a used car only dealer? In other words was a franchise dealership or a non-franchised dealership?
3. If it was a franchised dealership was a Chevy dealership?

I'm going to assume that you bought it from a used car dealership with no new car line. If you bought it from a franchised store you will have even more leverage than you have with an independent dealer.

It doesn't matter what state you're in a dealer cannot sell a car that has previous damage/significant paintwork/etc. without disclosing it to the buyer. Here in the state of Oregon this lesson was learned the hard way by the states largest Chevrolet dealer. They sold a previously wrecked Chevrolet suburban to a customer who discovered it had sustained significant damage and had never been inspected like they represented. When he brought the vehicle back they gave him the same slow dance routine that you are getting and after giving them three opportunities to make it right and being jacked around every time he decided to sue them. At this point the dealer should have taken the car back and made them happy they could, but they didn't... This case went to trial and the customer was awarded a judgment in the amount of $11,000 in compensatory damages and a judgment for $1 million in ! punitive damages! (because let's face it car dealers are not very sympathetic figures in court) thinking that the punitive damage judgment was to buy the trial court judge reduced it to $50,000 and the customer appealed. The appeals court adjusted the punitive damage award up to $300,000 and the dealer appealed the case to the Supreme Court Oregon. The Supreme Court took the case and their decision reinstated the entire million-dollar punitive damage award... And awarded attorney fees to the prevailing party… The customer. The suburban only had an actual cash value of around $4-5,000.00!

Here is a link to that case so you can read it

Appeals Court Decision-
Supreme Court Decision-

The moral of the story here is this: A dealer's first loss is their best loss if in fact they even lose anything. Here the dealer sold you a car that had been demonstrably involved in an accident without disclosing it... And that's very bad.

I would give the dealer one final chance to come to his senses into the right thing and make sure you let him know that he's out of chances. Don't fall into the trap of being difficult or threatening because that will provide them with a reason to treat you poorly. Don't raise your voice and make sure you are communicating with the dealer principal or the general manager. Right down the chain of events as accurately as possible and share your frustrations with them without the use of any name-calling or ad hominems. Here is what you're letter should say:

1. The dealer sold you the car and claimed it had never been wrecked
2. The vehicle had been wrecked ... and oviously so.

print out and take along a copy of that Oregon case to give to him and in a calm cool collected voice explain that you have tried to be as flexible as you possibly could under the circumstances but that your patience has worn thin and is now gone. Tell him that you would take the 2012 as a straight across exchange and if the car is financed tell him that you are not willing to take the new market value on the wrecked car (he would love to have you trade it in and turn this into a new car deal) You want the old deal unwound which means you would need to make sure you sign a recission agreement....Then enter into a new deal on the new car with no trade ...EITHER THAT or tell the dealer to do an "EXCHANGE OF COLLATERAL' with your bank ...that means they would give your bank who has the loan on your 2011 the title to the 2012 and the bank would give them back the title to the 2011 and everything would continue just like nothing happened. You may be all out of patience with this dealer and just want the deal unwound and your money back ... this angle of attack is the one you will encounter the most resistance because it means he would lose whatever profits they made on the deal (tough shit) ...Once you read the Oregon case that went all the way to the Supreme Court you will understand your legal rights and the laws the dealer has violated ... mostly they were the laws of common decency (lol) and the Unfrair Trade Practices Act every state has this set of laws on their books) ...along with fraud etc. Make sure you run a carfax and autocheck on this car to see if it was reported when it sustained all of the damage...also run a DMV information on the car to find out who the previous owner was (it might cost you 2-12.00) then call him or her up and ask what happened and if he /she told the dealer about the accident when it was traded. If it went thru the auction then call the auction because I guarantee you that the damage was disclosed or was discovered when the car was inspected after it was auctioned (standard stuff that gets done before the buyer is obligated to honor his winning bid) There is no way the car slid past anyone there with those kinds of issues. All of the information you need is easy to find off of the carfax reports or the DMV or both. carfax will tell you where it was auctioned.

3. Include the general gist of the fruits of this quick investigation in your written version
4. Tell the dealer in clear concise terms what you are expecting him to do to solve the problem and be reasonable without selling yourself out even 1.00 short of whats fair.

Then call the dealership and make sure the owner or GM (only) is there and jump in the car and drive over there with your letter etc. Ask to see him and then wait and don't let them put you off polite when he comes out ask to go somewhere private so you have his undivided attention and tell your story from the letter if you have too ... be calm if he tries to put you off for even one more day tell him that that ship has sailed and you needed it resolved right now. If he blows you off and tells you tough luck you bought a car lalalala then let him know that you are meeting with the DMV dealer compliance agent when you leave there...will be posting the details of your entire experience everywhere you possibly can on the Internet including craigslist and Ripoff Report. Remind him that once a complaint is posted to Ripoff Report it cannot be deleted under any circumstances. (Basically let him know that you're going to be telling the whole world what a scumbag he is as nicely as possible) then hand him your envelope if you're letter and your copy of this lawsuit from Oregon and wish him a Merry Christmas.

I doubt it will even get to this point especially if it's a franchised dealer because as car Chevrolet proved a dealer's first loss this is best loss and this gentleman committed fraud. Even a terrible car guy can spot for replaced quarter panels from a mile away. If it gets to this point – beyond this file a complaint with DMV... Even though they will tell you that it's an attorney general issue do it anyway... Independent dealers are more afraid of DMV than they are of anything else in this world. But then also file a complaint with the Atty. Gen. and find a consumer rights attorney and sue them into the dark ages... Making sure to file against their bond with the state right away. Then make sure you follow through on ripoff report and craigslist and all of those online review forums for car dealers and send him courtesy copies of those listings... Make very sure you don't make any statements of purported fact that are not true.

This answer is running kind of long but it's something that makes me really angry when I run into it so if there's anything you don't understand please ask as many follow-up questions as you want I am with you all the way .... You can also retrieve more quickly at my personal e-mail address which is . You can even send me a copy of your letter before you give it to the dealer and I would be glad to proofread it and make any necessary changes

Good luck and thanks for the great question

The Car Guy

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Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. HERE IS THE LINK TO MY OTHER ALLEXPERTS CATEGORIES WHERE I HAVE ANSWERED LOTS OF QUESTIONS HERE IS A LINK TO MY BLOG


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Atheneum Partners, Expert 360, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

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Willamette University - Salem Oregon BA Economics Willamette University Graduate School of Business - Econometrics Statistics

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