The Question You Should Always Ask Before Buying a Used Car

Robert Gordon is angry and frustrated about the family’s 2017 black Dodge Journey.

“Especially on the expressway,” he said. “It sounds like the windshield is cracking.”

The sound is unnerving for someone like Robert who is visually impaired.

“I don’t know if the wheel is going to fall off, or the windshield is going to crack or what,” he said.

Robert and his family bought the SUV in May at the Lowest Price Transportation Network in Plantation, also known as LPTN.  It had less than 3,000 miles on it.

“To me, that’s brand new,” Gordon said.

They thought it was in great condition, so they never asked if it had been in an accident.  They purchased it “as is” – without a warranty – signing a disclaimer agreeing to “bear the entire expense of repairing or correcting any defects” as well as a damage disclosure form, acknowledging the vehicle may have had prior damage and that they were “satisfied with the current condition of the paint and body work”.

But soon after buying it, they took it to a Dodge dealership for an oil change.

“They told us the vehicle had severe damage underneath,” he said, adding that the Dodge mechanic told him the left fender and hood had been removed and repainted; bolts and nuts were missing and not the proper sizes on most of the suspension; and he gave Gordon a warning.

“Wherever you got this car from, take it back, because it’s unsafe to drive,” Gordon said the mechanic told him.

Gordon tried to return the vehicle, but LPTN would not take it back.

“He said it was not his policy to exchange the vehicle,” Gordon said.

So the family contacted NBC 6 Responds.

“I would like a different vehicle, if not my down payment,” Gordon said.

A spokesperson for LPTN told NBC 6 Responds they would fix what was wrong for free, even though Gordon’s wife had signed both disclosure forms.  Gordon initially declined that offer, but he said he is now reconsidering it.

According to a legal expert, dealerships in Florida do not have to disclose verbally or otherwise prior damage to a vehicle, even if they knew about it.  Consumers have to ask.  But dealerships are obligated to tell you the truth if you do ask.  It’s always a good idea to check out a vehicle’s history before buying it.  You can get a vehicle history report from CarFax or you can visit www.vehiclehistory.gov for a list of other resources.