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I think dealership sold me a"new" wrecked car.

Waldorf, MD |
Filed under: Lemon law Used cars

I believe the car was wrecked at the port where it comes off the ship BEFORE it goes to the dealership. I've heard cars can be damaged, then fixed, and sold as a new undamaged vehicle without any info about it going to anyone. But someone must know, right? How can this be legal, and is there anything I can do about it? Nothing was said about any damage or repairs to the vehicle from the dealership ( I'm not blaming them )

Attorney Answers 3


You'll need to have the vehicle inspected by a professional. Do note that most states allow a certain minimum level of damage to be done without disclosure to a consumer. CA's law is on the low end at 3% of MSRP. Your state's law may vary. You should contact a local consumer protection attorney for a low or no cost consultation. I typically recommend Jane Santoni in MD. Please tell her I said hello.

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You need to take the car to a reputable body shop that is willing to help you by telling you how badly damaged the car is. Hopefully, he will help you at trial if your matter goes that far. Scott is correct. States have passed laws that allow dealers to sell new cars that have been damaged before anyone bought them without disclosing the prior wreck damage. Those laws were an over reaction by conservatives to one court case. The court system solved the problem but that didn't stop the legislatures. Anyway, you need to contact a consumer lawyer in your area. Try using or Good luck.

The information provided should not be considered legal advice. I am not licensed to practice in any State other than SC. The results of your case will depend on the presentation of evidence, the law and other factors that may change depending on an in depth analysis of the facts of the case. Please see an attorney before making legal decisions.

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Yes, it happens. Yes, you can do something about it. But you have to know for sure that it happened and it takes an expert or a body shop man to know for sure. You also need to talk to Jane Santoni in MD. Her contact info is at She knows your state fraud laws. Meanwhile, here's some general info that may be helpful. Wrecked and repaired cars can be dangerous because you don't know the quality of the repair job or the repairman. Car dealers generally have a higher disclosure obligation than an ordinary consumer would have selling the car. If the dealer knows something and realizes that the buyer would want to know about it, but doesn't disclose it, the dealer may be committing fraud by concealment. Every state has its own definition of fraud, but generally it's a lie or something kept hidden that costs you money. There is a big difference in value between a car that has never been wrecked and one that has, even when the repairs are done right. It's called "diminished value" and it means your car is worth much less than one that was not wrecked and repaired. If you are still close to your purchase date, you probably have the right to either cancel the deal or recover the amount you were overcharged for the car. If you want to know what your car is really worth, take it to a car dealer and see how much they will give you for it after you tell them that the CarFax or AutoCheck or Nmvtis report for it says it was wrecked and it may have frame damage. Many car dealers won't want to buy it at all. Once you have already spent your money, it's not too late to have an independent repair shop inspect it and tell you what they think, but the best time is before you put down your hard earned money. Still, there is more than one way to get rid of a wrecked car (or a bad car) or to get even when you’ve been ripped off. First look at your paperwork and see if anything was written down about any kind of guarantee or warranty. In a used car deal, most of your legal rights are dependant on the paperwork you sign. However used car dealersly with the law. That sticker can also give you more rights. Also, if they lie to you, that can be fraud. To know what all this means in your particular case though you need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case (it's called "autofraud" or car sales fraud). You are required to post a Buyer Guide form on the window of every car and many dealers don’t comp can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, You can also look for one here on Avvo under the Find a Lawyer tab. Or you can call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you. But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give a “Vote UP” review below. And be sure to indicate the best answer to your question so we can all be sure we are being helpful. Thanks for asking and Good Luck.

For a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers, click here

“What is Fraud” is explained in this Avvo Legal Guide, click here

Why wrecked cars are dangerous ripoffs, click here to read more

Click here to learn How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Used Car in 7 Steps

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your state may differ and your best answer will always come from a local attorney that you meet with privately. If you need a Consumer Law attorney, click the link above to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.

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