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My Dealership Lied To Me
My Dealership Lied about Crash Damage. Now What?
Car frame damage compromises your vehicle’s ability to protect you in an accident. Almost every vehicle sold in the United States is built on an integrated unibody structure in which the car’s frame and body form a single piece. Car frame damage also dramatically affects a vehicle’s resale value, prompting some less-than-scrupulous dealerships to lie about previous crash damage. If your dealership lies about car frame damage, you should immediately contact an auto fraud attorney.
Auto fraud attorney Andrew Ross with Allen Stewart, P.C. said dealerships are not required by law to disclose if a vehicle was in an accident unless the buyer asks the seller about known prior accidents.
“Used vehicles are primarily sold ‘as is,’ meaning the vehicle does not have a warranty,’ Ross said. “However, this does not mean that a seller can lie to the buyer if asked about prior accidents. As such, lying about prior accident damage is significantly worse.”
Ross said if the dealership lied about past crash damage when asked, or provided a falsified vehicle history, you may have legal recourse and you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
“The buyer’s potential claims must be brought within a certain period of time after a date determined by law,” he said. “If the buyer does not bring their claim within that time, they will be forever barred from pursuing their claims by the statute of limitations.”
Ross recommends getting any damage you suspect occurred before purchase verified by a third party mechanic and getting an estimate for the repair cost. He also recommends ordering a CARFAX vehicle history report as well.
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act allows a consumer to pursue a claim no later than two years after discovering the violation. The Act protects Texans against false, deceptive and misleading business practices, including lying about crash damage.
What is unibody damage? Unibody damage is any damage to the vehicle’s frame (the “unibody”) that seriously compromises the vehicle’s inherent structural integrity. Usually damage this severe happens during high-speed crashes or similarly severe events. This kind of damage goes beyond a “fender bender” and can drastically affect a vehicle’s balance and ability to keep you safe on the road. Frame damage will thusly severely impact a used vehicle’s resale value, and as such explains why unscrupulous dealers will lie and say the vehicle is completely fine when there should have been frame damage reported. What is unibody damage? A massive blow to a vehicle’s safety and value.
The average consumer vehicle sold in America is built using a unibody system made up of several parts of a single whole. The core support located on the front fo the vehicle holds the radiator. Located at the back and front of the car is the unirail, upon which is welded the apron located at the front inner fender area. The four strut towers are located at the vehicle’s four corners align and hold the vehicle’s suspension in place. The firewall separates the motor from the vehicle’s interior cab and makes up the vehicle’s engine bay along with the strut towers, front unirail and core support.
The floor pan is a metal sheet welded to the bottom of the vehicle’s frame, forming a floor and housing the vehicle’s drivetrain and electric wiring. Finally, the rocker panels, quarter panels and rear support form the passenger area and rear storage of the vehicle.
Buying a car with frame damage might save you money in the short term, but it’s a long-term gamble with your finances and safety. If the frame damage was reported, the vehicle may still be safe to drive. However, that vehicle will be less safe in a crash. Major damage to a vehicle’s unibody frame can be repaired, but it will never be as strong as it was before. The areas that bent in the crash will be weaker now, prone to bending again were a crash to take place. This, along with previously deployed airbags or seatbelt pretensioners, can make a previously-wrecked vehicle more dangerous than meets the eye.
Before you find yourself wondering “did the dealership sell me a car that was in an accident,” practice some due diligence before signing any purchase agreements. Be sure to run the vehicle through VIN checks to get accurate, trustworthy records on the car in question. Carfax is a frequently used service, and many reputable dealers will provide a Carfax report during the purchasing process. Even if the car dealer didn’t disclose the accident themselves, the wreck should show up on a Carfax report and show you frame damage reported to the car.
Other free services that provide VIN checks include the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Vehiclehistory.com and iSeeCars.com/VIN.
The dealer, legally, must disclose whether or not a vehicle was involved in a prior accident before selling it to a used vehicle consumer. Buying a car with frame damage is a poor choice, but it’s one you should be able to make for yourself and not made for you by a dishonest car salesman. If you discover the car dealer didn’t disclose the accident, you should reach out to a qualified auto fraud attorney immediately.
If your dealership lied to you about pre-existing crash damage, you may have a claim. The auto fraud attorneys of Allen Stewart, P.C. can help you recover your economic losses. Don’t wait; contact us today for a free evaluation of the merits of your deceptive practices trade claim.