Used car buyer says check dealer credentials before big purchase

Used car buyer says check dealer credentials before big purchase
(Source: WAFB)

BAKER, La. (WAFB) - When you’re in the market for a new car, you can only hope the process is easy and stress-free. However, Brandi Johnson ran into a roadblock that’s led her to file a complaint.

Right now, Johnson doesn’t have a car. She’s missing her child’s car seat and she’s out a nice chunk of change. After getting into a wreck, Johnson went car shopping. She stumbled upon a 2003 Toyota Camry at a used car dealership in Baker.

Woman files complaint against Baker car dealership for withholding deposit

Johnson says the car started with no problem.

“The air was working. Everything was working. Everything was good with the car. I got the car on Tuesday evening and drove off. Everything was fine," she said.

This new car owner went just a day and a half with no issues. That’s a stark difference from the outcome she expected.

”When I tried to start it, it wouldn’t start at all,” she said. “It just kept going off, ‘beep, beep, beep.’ I would pop the hood, ‘beep, beep, beep.’”

Johnson called the owner of the dealership and that’s when she says things went further south. She recalls a conversation she had not long after the issues started.

“So he was like, ‘I’m going to get the car towed to the shop,’” Johnson said.

Johnson quickly became car-less; she didn’t get her $1,000 deposit back and was given no clear direction of what to do next. And the contract binding the dealership owner legally was left in the car. Johnson says the dealership owner insisted that she leave it behind.

(Source: WAFB)

“That’s kind of strange,” she said. ”Why would you tell me to do that? Like you knew something was going to be wrong this car the next week or something so you could take the paperwork from me.”

We’re choosing not to identify the dealership at this time until wrongdoing has been proven, but we spoke with the Louisiana Used Motor Vehicle Commission. They gave us a few tips to pass along to the public:

  • Test drive the car on varied road conditions
  • Ask for the car’s maintenance record
  • Have the car inspected by a mechanic

Experts also say dealers are not required by law to give used car buyers a three-day right to cancel.

“The right to return the car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers," a spokesperson with the commission advised.

“I said it will never, if it’s not with Honda or Kia or anything like that, I will never go to a car lot like that anymore,” Johnson said.

Officials also warn of dealers with “no-haggle prices” and “factory certified” used cars with claims to have better warranties. They also suggest consumers consider the dealer’s reputation before buying.

Consumers can research how often a used car has been repaired by visiting the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Vehicle Safety website.

The Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System can also be used to find information about the vehicle’s title, odometer data, and damage history.

If you’re in the process of buying a used car, visit the Louisiana Used Motor Vehicle Commission for tips before you make a big purchase.

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