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Is it illegal for a dealer to sell a vehicle if all the VIN numbers dont match it wont pass inspection & has a salvage title?

El Paso, TX |

My husband who is active duty army bought a truck last year & we were not informed that the VIN numbers on the truck didnt match one another or that it has been completely totaled & rebuilt. The frame is twisted, the bumper was crooked & barely hanging on & the paint didnt match. We recently tried to get it inspected & it wont pass inspection, the inspector said the truck could not get communication with their equipment. My question is, Is this illegal to do in the state of Texas? If this is illegal what can we do to get justice for this?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Car dealers who sell wrecked/rebuilt trucks to our service members ought to be ... well ... you know what I think. But back to the law. Yes, this sounds like fraud and I think you are legally right and the dealer is legally wrong, but you need to talk to a local car sales fraud lawyer to be sure how the law works in your state (there's a link below for that). 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. There is a long technical definition of fraud in each state but it basically is a lie that costs you money. That usually means the difference in value between what you paid for your truck (not realizing you were getting ripped off) and what it is really worth in the condition that it is in (and if you want to know what that is, just take it to Carmax or another local franchised car dealer and tell them what you know and ask what they will give you for it to buy it from you - you'll find out fast that no one wants it). 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." In many states it is also a violation of the state Udap law to sell a vehicle that is danger to use. If a mandatory state inspection must be passed to be able to drive it on the road, and it won't pass, in many states that alone can give the buyer the right to cancel the sale. There are lots of laws involved in your dispute and you can see that all of this can get confusing real fast. You should talk to a local Consumer Law lawyer about your state laws and what your rights are, right away. You 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, 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. Ron Burdge, Attorney,,

    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

    Learn how to avoid wrecked car ripoffs, click here

    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. For a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers, click on this link ( and find one near you

  2. This is so unfortunate on so many levels, but, if you check the internet you will see that many car dealers set up shop close to bases so they can prey on our service members. Some bases keep a list of businesses that are not to be patronized. Regardless, it sounds like you have enough here to get some help. I have a nice list of good attorneys who handle these types of matters on my website. Look here for someone good:

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I would recommend contacting an attorney. My only concern is that you mentioned that the bumper was crooked and barely hanging on and that the paint didn't match - which may be grounds for the seller to argue that you knew the car was involved in some sort of serious accident, etc... Good Luck.

    This answer should not be used as a final ruling on your case as more facts are needed to fully understand and expound upon your legal inquiry. This answer should be used a short introduction to the legal theories that may apply.

  4. Yes, this is illegal in the State of Texas. You have grounds for suit under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. To find a lawyer who practices in El Paso, I suggest checking the legal directory at (National Association of Consumer Advocates)

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