Is it illegal for a dealer to sell a car with the Airbag system tampered with?

Asked about 2 years ago - Phoenix, AZ

My girlfriend purchased a Mazda Tribute last year from a small dealer and we recently found out that the vehicle was in a front end collision that was no reported to CarFax, but was serious enough to deploy the airbag on the passenger side. Needless to say, there was a deliberate attempt to cover it up as the Airbag Cover was repaired and reglued back into place and the airbag was cut out. To add to the scheme, the Airbag indicator bulb has been removed from the dash.

Additional information

The CarFax also does not report the vehicle with a branded title either. It reports a minor rear end collision and vehicle was functional no airbag deployment.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Ronald Lee Burdge

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Sounds like fraud to me. 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 what fraud is but basically it is a lie that costs you money. Arizona has some special laws that govern used car sales. They also have a good used car lemon law. The Arizona used car lemon law only applies to vehicles bought from dealers - no private sales are covered - and it only covers major components of your car and there are some limitations in the law and you could still have to pay up to $25 of the repair cost for the first two repair trips. The law creates an implied warranty that only lasts for 500 miles or 15 days after the sale, whichever comes first, so it’s important to act quickly. But even this short warranty can still be waived by the purchaser if the dealer discloses the vehicle’s problems prior to the sale and if the buyer signs a “disclosure” statement as part of the sale paperwork. If that happens, then the Arizona used car lemon law won’t apply to you. Every state has its own Lemon Law and whether your vehicle is a lemon depends on your state’s laws and the facts of your case. You can read an outline of your state's new car Lemon Law on this web page (http://tinyurl.com/cf8ltzz). There is also a federal lemon law that covers almost all consumer purchases and it can help your used vehicle purchase rights too; it's called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. Most of your rights when you buy a used vehicle are determined by the paperwork you sign but when you bought it can matter too. If you bought it very recently, then you may have more legal rights (again, depending on your paperwork and what representations were made to you when you bought it). But that’s still not the end of it. If the vehicle has hidden damage the dealer knew about and didn’t tell you then that could be fraud too. There’s also a federal law that requires all car dealers to post on the window of all used cars they are selling a special “Buyer Guide” form (it’s often called a Used Car Window Sticker) that discloses whether or not a warranty comes with the car. Many small lot car dealers don’t comply with the law. If they don’t, then you may end up with a warranty after all and you may even have the right to cancel the sale. The back side of the form has to be completely filled out and many car lots, big and small, fail to do that too and that can also trigger your right to cancel the deal. You can see what the Buyer Guide form looks like on this web site page (http://tinyurl.com/9ram9hb). There’s only way to know for sure what your legal rights are - talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case (it's called "autofraud" or car sales fraud). Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (http://www.USLemonLawyers.com) 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, NACA.net). 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 please 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

    This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your... more
  2. Scott Richard Kaufman

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Two quick points:
    1- Have your insurance company check its system for a "clue" report.
    2- Get in touch with Hyung Choi from Choi and Fabian. He's as good as there is in AZ and tell him I said "hello."

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