A Kansas City used car lot is under investigation after selling a woman a car that was seriously damaged by flooding.
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A month after the woman paid $6,000 to United Auto Sales for a 2012 Suzuki, she dropped off her car at her auto mechanic to fix an oil leak. Just as she had driven away, the mechanic called her to return and come to the bay area.
“We don’t normally let customers come into the bay,” the mechanic said, according to FOX4. “But you have to see this car and get your camera out.”
Despite the inside of the car being spotless, the underside was caked in mud, brake lines and wiring were rotting, and the exhaust was corroded, indicating the car was submerged in muddy water and was clearly unsafe to drive.
The mechanic told the woman “A car like this, you never know when the whole electrical system will fail.”
When the woman confronted United Auto Sales, they had her get a second inspection to prove it had been in a flood. She did, and the results were the same, but the car dealer still refused to refund her money.
The woman then turned to the FOX4 news, who began an investigation. Response from the car dealer during an interview with a reporter was that the woman could have flooded it herself.
But a further investigation proved two new parts were put on the car after it had been in a flood—struts and an alternator. One of the two parts had a sales tag attached showing it had been mailed to United Auto Sales one month after the car dealer purchased the car at auction and two months before it was sold to the woman.
“Whoever put on those parts had to have known that the car had been in a flood,” an expert told FOX4.
Despite that proof, the car lot owner would not issue a refund.
“There is nothing we can do here,” the auto dealer said. “We sell all our cars ‘as is.'”
United Auto Sales is now under review by the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Department of Revenue.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), more cars were flooded in Irma and Harvey than Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, leaving more than 600,000 flood-damaged cars behind.
Warning signs that a car has had water damage sometimes go unnoticed when car shopping. Things to be mindful of when buying a used car include a musty odor, especially in the trunk; water-spotted upholstery; rusty metal fixtures in the interior; seatbelt retractors that may be hiding moisture, mildew, or grime; mud and debris inside tail lights; and silt around the air filter.
Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.