Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Help Me Howard: Rebuilt Title
Car deals gone bad are one of the top complaints to Help Me Howard. But tonight's case was a first. Here's 7's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- To some people, stress is having to make a dozen pizza deliveries in an hour. To someone else, it's having to sell a dozen cars in a month. And then there are the poeple who work in an emergency room.
Sherry Jackson: "It can be very stressful."
Sherry thought her job in the medical field was tough. Then, she started looking for a good used car and thought she had found one.
Sherry Jackson: "A fairly new 2009 Pontiac G6 coupe with only 4,700 miles on it."
Sherry liked the $14,000 price tag, so she put down a $4,000 deposit. The dealer arranged financing at 28 percent, but Sherry was happy to have a 2009 car till a few months later when she took it in for an oil change.
Sherry Jackson: "He said, 'This car has been cut totally in half. This is not the original front end of the car.' And he showed me where the car was welded together."
Sherry was about to become an expert in what is called rebuilt vehicles, or salvage vehicles.
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "When a car is totalled in an accident, it's junk. What some people do is purchase several wrecked cars, put the good parts together to assemble what is called a rebuilt vehicle."
Sherry was upset to find out what she had bought. Then, her insurance agent called with more bad news.
Sherry Jackson: "He said, 'Your insurance has been cancelled, because we found out that your car has a salvage rebuilt title.'"
Sherry immediately called the dealer, who gave her the final bit of bad news.
Sherry Jackson: "And he says, 'Sherry, just get full coverage on my car or I'm going to repossess it.'"
But Sherry says she could not find an insurance company to fully insure the rebuilt car, and the next day, the dealer repossessed it.
Sherry Jackson: "He never told me anything about this car being wrecked."
Now, she is out the $4,000 down payment, the $4,000 in monthly payments, and has no money to buy another car.
Sherry Jackson: "It really shouldn't happen, because that's my hard-earned money, and now it's just gone. I would love to try to get my money back."
Well Howard, Sherry wants her money back after buying a rebuilt vehicle. Can she get it?
Howard Finkelstein: "If Sherry was told ahead of time that it was a rebuilt vehicle, if the title was stamped 'rebuilt vehicle,' then Sherry is out of luck. If she was not told, then the seller committed a crime, and she is entitled to get her money back."
When I spoke to the dealer, he told me he made it clear to Sherry exactly what she was buying. He told me that the car was safe and had been approved by the the Division of Motor Vehicles. He also said it was easy to get insurance for a rebuilt vehicle.
But not exactly. Many insurance companies won't touch rebuilt vehicles, because they are afraid of the safety of the vehicle. And companies who do insure them will charge more because of the risk.
Sherry Jackson: "No one in their right mind would purchase that vehicle."
As Sherry found out, buying a rebuilt car is not only a risk to drive: it's a risk to buy.
Sherry Jackson: "It bothers me a lot, because it's $8,000 that I didn't have and now, I have to try to find ways to get around for me and my daughter, and I was an honest consumer and I got a dirty deal."
Patrick Fraser: "Now the Insurance Information Institute of Florida has a ton of information about rebuilt vehicles, even a link to check the VIN number of a vehicle before you buy it and what to do if you are sold a rebuilt vehicle. Bottom line: if you are buying a rebuilt vehicle, know exactly what you are getting into."
Crashed, broken and feeling a wreck? Want to salvage the situation? Contact us. We will put the pieces back together and help you rebuild your confidence, or so we hope.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida Insurance Information Institite: http://www.InsuringFlorida.org/
To Check VIN Numbers: www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck/vincheck
Rebuilt Vehicle Information: http://usedcars.about.com/od/usedcarhistories/a/FloridaSalvageTitleLaws.htm
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: