Woman encourages others to do their homework before buying a used car
A Chattanooga woman is urging people in the market for a used car to do their homework first before buying.
If you’re in the market for a used car, it’s a good time to buy.
Many people are trading in their older models for brand new ones but before you hand over any cash, you need to make sure you’re getting what you think you’re paying for.
Johnnie Allen, 68, says she learned the hard way.
The Chattanooga woman says she needed transportation. In December, she went to a local car dealership and ended up settling on a 2016 Ford Focus.
“I was anxious to get a car because I want to start back working,” Allen told Channel 3.
Allen says the dealership let her take the car home to try it out. A few days later, she paid a $500 down payment and financed the rest of the used car. Soon after buying it though she says the trouble began.
“After I bought it, it felt like it just wasn't smooth, it wasn't quiet. I just wasn't pleased with it,” said Allen.
Allen told her son. He researched the vehicle identification number (VIN) online and says he was stunned by what he found on the internet.
“I pull up pictures of the car with the side, right back door smashed in and the windows out,” said John Allen.
He says he traced his mom’s car to a salvage auction in Pennsylvania.
“I feel that we’ve been deceived,” said Allen.
He says the pictures he found online are proof that her Ford Focus had been wrecked and repaired.
The CARFAX report, which the dealership used to check the car’s history, doesn’t show that.
“It just shows that everything is clean. It doesn't show that it's been wrecked at all,” he told Channel 3.
CARFAX is considered the industry standard used by dealers and consumers but it only shows information that’s reported to them.
A CARFAX spokesperson told Channel 3 the auction in Pennsylvania doesn’t report to CARFAX so they were not aware that the car had been wrecked.
Johnnie Allen filed a report with the Chattanooga Police Department, contacted the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs and says she complained to the car dealership.
“When me and a friend went back in there, they offered to swap the car out. I would not swap that car,” said Allen.
Channel 3 contacted the dealership, Long Hyundai in Chattanooga.
General Manager T.L. Nicholas issued the following statement:
“We are aware of the concern Ms. Allen has raised regarding the automobile she purchased. We have offered on several occasions to inspect the vehicle and address any problems that can be identified.
With respect to her claims the car has been wrecked, we have not been able to verify with our reporting agency (CARFAX), public title, inspection service or other verifiable records that this particular vehicle has been involved in a wreck or was otherwise damaged. We fully responded to the consumer affairs department and provided all information requested. To date we have not received any information that would contradict or conflict with the information we have from public records or CARFAX.
Ms. Allen has not brought the vehicle in for inspection as requested.”
If you are buying a used car, experts say you should always take it for a test drive, get a vehicle history report and have a mechanic to inspect it.
There are several websites that will allow you to check the VIN number and do your own homework on a car before you buy it.