EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 5/20/21 — Customers of one used care dealer in South Arkansas are speaking out after reporting issues with their cars shortly after purchase. They are sharing their stories to save other potential clients of use car dealerships from the same headache.
“I paid cash for the car so there’s really nothing I can do about it. I just don’t want it to happen to anybody else,” Larenzeuna Downs said.
Down is no stranger to buying used cars but she says out of them all it’s the Toyota Camry she bought about three months ago from a local dealer that has been giving her trouble.
She said she went to the dealership months ago looking for car. She test drove it and she said it was running just fine.
“I felt like it was the car. So, I bought it,” she said “Within two weeks it started running hot.”
Following the issue, Downs said she went back to the dealer. The dealer had someone check out the car and it was determined she needed a radiator cap but even after it was replaced, she says she was still having issues with the car.
“It started to idle real bad and he said I needed an oxygen sensor,” she said.
Downs admits knowing she purchased the car “as is” but was never told up front what issues were wrong with the car. She believes she was deceived and that it’s “business” for a dealer to communicate issues up front.
“He said it was a strong transmission. Strong motor. Highway ready. And he had a mechanic down there supporting it,” she said. “I’ve had several used cars and this is my first time being in this situation.”
Downs isn’t frustrated rather hoping to use this opportunity to warn other clients about her situation.
“If you buy a car, all I can tell you is to have your own mechanic go with you,” she said.
That’s the same story for another woman who reached out to NBC10/FOX14 asking for help.
For Jessica Walker, a resident of Louisiana, it’s more than just purchasing an “as is” car that quickly went bad, she’s claiming the dealer sold her a car she couldn’t even legally own.
“He let me drive out of the car lot with fake fraudulent paper plates with my children in the car. With a car that had been involved in a head on collision and was barely pieced back together,” Walker said.
According to the lawsuit filed in 2019, Walker claims misconduct by the dealer and his secretary for misrepresenting that the vehicle was not wrecked or damaged, forging documents and signatures, failing to disclose the true mechanical condition of the vehicle among other allegations.
“He told me there was nothing wrong with the the car even after I called him two days later on what I found out. Number 1, it didn’t crank the next morning. He said all it needed was a tune up. He told me to bring it back to him and he would get me the title and it would be $36 for spark plugs,” she said.
After two years, Walker says this incident is still causing her stress and she also hopes to warn others before buying a used car from any dealer. Now she only wishes she could have done things differently.
We reached out to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Over the last year, her office has received more than 1,200 complaints about used car purchases from across the state.
Of those thousands, she says most of the complaints are having to deal with regard dealers not having a proper title, not fully disclosing the mechanical issues. and not fully disclosing whether or not the car has a warranty.
“It’s important for Arkansans to know that lemon laws only apply to new vehicles and not a used vehicle. I do encourage buyers to ask questions, ask if the car has been flooded, ask if the car has been in a major accident and if it has been in an accident ask how much has been damaged because they are required to say how much damage has occurred to that vehicle,” she said.
Attorney General Rutledge encourages anyone who has been taken advantage of to call her office. In addition, she offered the following tips when visiting a dealership:
- When purchasing a used car, federal law requires that a used-car dealer post a Buyer’s Guide on the window of the car. The purpose of the Buyer’s Guide is to tell consumers if the car is sold “as is” (sold with all defects, known or unknown) or if the car comes with a warranty.
- Always ask for the vehicle’s history report, such as CARFax, before buying it.
- Ask about prior damage. Inquire about any prior damage to the car and its repair history. Do not automatically accept the seller’s response as accurate. In addition, if the vehicle has ever sustained more than 70% damage (“totaled” or “salvaged”), the vehicle title must be branded with a “SALVAGE” and if rebuilt, it must be branded as “REBUILT” and the seller must include a Previous Damage Buyer Notification Form.
- Always test drive the vehicle.
- The seller must give the buyer a written odometer statement disclosing the vehicle’s true mileage at the time of transfer; date of transfer; names and addresses for the buyer and seller; and the vehicle’s make, year, body type, and vehicle identification number. If the seller knows the mileage has exceeded a mechanical limit of 99,999 miles or knows that the mileage is inaccurate, he or she must provide that information to the buyer. It is illegal to disconnect, reset or replace an odometer for the purpose of changing the number of miles.
- If purchasing a used vehicle, ask about arranging for an inspection by an independent mechanic before purchasing.
- Check to see if the car comes with a warranty included in the price of the car. If so, what are the specific protections provided by the dealer or seller. If the seller offers to sell you an extended warranty or service contract, the seller should not be offering the car “as is.” Remember, if you buy a car “as is” and have problems with it, you must pay for any repairs yourself.
- Beware of extended warranties and service contracts. Ask whether the dealer or seller offers an extended warranty or service contract. If you decide to purchase a service contract, make sure you understand what it covers and how long it will last. Shop around for the best price on a service contract.
- Make sure you get any promises made by the dealer or seller in writing (for example, to replace a broken tail light). Verbal promises are difficult to enforce.
- Read the contract carefully before you sign. Do not sign it if it contains any blank spaces.
- Do not feel pressured to make a decision in the moment. Ask to take the paperwork home to review.
- Take a copy of the contract and all documents you signed with you when you leave. You have no right to cancel a car purchase. Contrary to popular misconception, neither State nor federal law gives the buyer an unconditional right to cancel a car purchase.
- If you decide to consider dealer financing, get copies of the financing documents before you sign so that you can comparison shop for financing from other sources.
- If the financing terms change after you take the automobile home, you have the right to walk away from the deal without penalty. This is called a Yo-Yo Sale, which is illegal in Arkansas.
We reached out to the business and are still gathering the dealer’s side of the story.