Certified pre-owned car fraud could be on the rise


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Hum

There has been a sharp increase in the number of cases involving certified used cars that have been previously wrecked or have other substantial problems, says the consumer attorney Daniel Blinn of the Connecticut-based Consumer Law Group.

Consumers pay a premium for certified used cars because those vehicles typically come with a manufacturer's warranty and are marketed as having been thoroughly checked to ensure the vehicle meets high manufacturer standards. For example, Toyota boasts of a certified pre-owned checklist that includes 160 items. "We check 160 points," the Toyota website says. "All to prove one point: Only the best get to be Toyota Certified Used Vehicles."

But they may not be the best after all, says Blinn, who points to evidence that some dealers don't conduct the detailed inspections.

Often dealers automatically certify late-model used cars, which means consumers get stuck paying hundreds of dollars extra for manufacturer warranties even if they don't want them. Consumer Reports is not a big fan of these warranties, believing instead that consumers should bank that extra money and instead buy reliable used vehicles that have been thoroughly checked by a mechanic.

    When buying a used car, don't assume that certification means the vehicle hasn't been wrecked, flooded, or suffered other serious damage, or that it's even been properly inspected.

    Inspect the front and back of the vehicle title. Verify that the mileage statement agrees with the vehicle's odometer and that the title isn't "branded" with "Salvage," "Junk," "Rebuilt," Flood," "Recovered theft," "Lemon law buyback," or similar terms that indicate the car or truck has a troubled past. Also verify that there is no unpaid loan. If the dealer won't let you see the title or doesn't have it, take a pass on that vehicle.

    Expect the dealer to provide a free used-car history report from Carfax or AutoCheck, and then call the reporting service to verify the report hasn't been altered. Also conduct a free VINCheck vehicle-history search at the National Insurance Crime Bureau website. But keep in mind that vehicle history reports can miss a lot. Over the years, we've found many examples of wrecked vehicles that had clean reports. That can happen, for example, if a vehicle is self-insured, which often is the case for rental cars, or if the damaged car or truck isn't covered by collision insurance and an accident report isn't filed with police.

    No matter how good that used car looks, have it checked out by a reliable mechanic, preferably one experienced in auto body work. Don't rely on your mechanic's offer to do a quick inspection free. A used vehicle must be checked thoroughly, a service for which you should expect to pay about $100. Ask the mechanic what the inspection will entail, and request a written report. If a dealer won't let you take the car to your mechanic, go elsewhere. It's a sign he's hiding something. Don't let a dealer persuade you to forgo the inspection because the vehicle is certified or covered by a manufacturer's warranty.

    If you must make a deposit before obtaining an inspection, make sure the paperwork says it's refundable. And always use a credit card. That way, if there are any shenanigans, you can ask your card issuer to initiate a chargeback. If you pay by cash or check or by using a debit card, getting your money back can be a hassle even if you can prove that the dealer engaged in wrongdoing.

    If you buy a used car?certified or not?and discover that it had previous accident damage or other serious problems that a dealer failed to disclose, contact a consumer attorney and your local or state consumer protection agency.
 

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Brian M.

Nothing new, my uncle bought a used Ford from a dealership over here about 20 years ago, to find it was actually 2 cars welded together.

 

Main dealer's used car sales aren't interested in selling "good" examples. They sell whatever they get in part-ex for new cars.

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Hum

My neighbor got screwed on a Hummer SUV, which was in an accident.

 

I don't see how you can ever be sure.

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cork1958

Wouldn't and don't trust ANY car dealership in existence whether it's to buy a car or get work done on a car! They are only out for #1!

 

Have only bought 1 vehicle in my life from a dealer and that was a brand new truck that had 0 miles on it. Even with it under warranty, I NEVER brought it back to them for even something as simple as an oil change.

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sc302

While true dealers are in for themselves, some do want to have returning revenue and giving bad service is one way not to have returning revenue.  They want you to come back for service, they want you to come back and buy a new car.  You want to go to those places that go above and beyond and give you the best for your money.  They are out for #1, it hurts #1 to not give good service.

 

That being said, I don't take my cars to get serviced.  I do all basic services myself.  I don't buy used cars anymore, and I don't buy from crooked dealers no matter how close they are to my house or work.  There is only one nissan dealer that I go to to purchase my nissans.  I am skeptical on the toyota I just bought. 

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Lizardslap

Nothing new, my uncle bought a used Ford from a dealership over here about 20 years ago, to find it was actually 2 cars welded together.

 

Main dealer's used car sales aren't interested in selling "good" examples. They sell whatever they get in part-ex for new cars.

thats actually not to uncommon of a practice I know a guy who does exactly that. some of the stuff he fixes is crazy

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Rippleman

I don't see how you can ever be sure.

 

you could avoid it by buying brand new... but that's horrible.. I worked in the auto industry for a decade and for various dealers, each one of the finance managers always had the saying "the only people that buy brand-new are millionaires and idiots"

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+xrobwx71

Nothing new, my uncle bought a used Ford from a dealership over here about 20 years ago, to find it was actually 2 cars welded together.

 

 

I want to meet this welder!  :)

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Brian M.

I want to meet this welder!  :)

 

It's not that bad these days, but it used to be a big problem over here (they had a crackdown on it in the late 90s/early 00s). It's still a big practice in some parts of eastern europe though :(.

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_dandy_

I don't see anything in that article mentioning why car fraud "could be on the rise" as the title says--sounds to me like the usual horror stories about the bad apples that have always existed.

 

My dad was a certified mechanic for over 40 years (worked for the same dealer all his life), and his current neighbor owns a body shop.  With his help, my dad's bought a few cars that had been written off, fixed them, got them recertified and put them back on the road, either to drive himself or sold to friends/family who know he can be trusted.

 

Very often insurance adjusters will exaggerate their repair estimates because they'd rather write a vehicle off than pay to get it fixed.  The last wreck my dad bought/fixed had been written off because the labor alone had been estimated at 45 hours--between my dad and his neighbor, it was back on the road (and fully certified) after 11 hours worth of work split between them.  If you're looking for scams, you don't need to look past the insurance companies themselves.

 

Thing is, a car that's been in a wreck, by law, has to be declared as such.  I'd have no problem buying a wreck from a trusted source--but that's the key (there's nothing new here to discuss).  Personally, I'd much rather see a salvageable car get back on the road than sent to the crusher, even though I'm not the tree-hugging type.

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Hum

I don't see anything in that article mentioning why car fraud "could be on the rise" as the title says--sounds to me like the usual horror stories about the bad apples that have always existed.

 

Increasing population and increasing cost of living, tends to increase dishonesty.

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_dandy_

Increasing population and increasing cost of living, tends to increase dishonesty.

 

Really?  This is what this whole thing is based on?  Why then focus on car fraud, and not on other crimes that are much easier to pull off?

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Hum

Really? This is what this whole thing is based on? Why then focus on car fraud, and not on other crimes that are much easier to pull off?

The News does -- there is like the fraud of the Month, regularly printed.

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kombolcha

Several years ago a friend bought a certified Lexus RX300 from a huge Toyota/Lexus dealer and a couple years later someone rear ended them slightly which cracked the bumper exposing an orangish paint underneath instead of silver. Got a lawyer, contacted the dealer, dealer fixed vehicle at no charge and wrote it off as fully paid. Still driving the Lexus. 

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adrynalyne

Really?  This is what this whole thing is based on?  Why then focus on car fraud, and not on other crimes that are much easier to pull off?

^^^

 

Exactly.

 

Hum is just jumping to (some quite wild) conclusions.  If someone is going to be dishonest, they are equally likely in good and bad times.

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