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Can an auto dealer sell you a vehicle that was a rental vehicle without informing you?

Buying a vehicle can be quite stressful, as well as expensive. Depending on the vehicle you want, it may be extremely out of your price range, and you may have to settle due to your expenses, or how much you are able to spend at that current moment.

Like most people, you may end up settling on buying a used vehicle that has already seen some wear and tear. Most of the vehicles that are in the used lot district tend to have a bit of mileage on them, but not to the extent that they cannot be driven again.

However, there are some that tend to have a previous life that has put them under much more duress and stress than others. In these situations, the dealership may decide to withhold information to be able to make the vehicle look more appealing to a customer. The question, though, becomes this: Is it legal for them to do this?

Difference between a New and Used Vehicle

Although it may seem fairly obvious, there is a difference between new vehicles on a dealership lot, and used vehicles in a dealership lot. For new vehicles, they can be simply rolled out into the lot for potential buyers. As they generally are coming straight from a factory, they have no previous history, and are free of any possible previous damages.

When it comes to used vehicles, however, it is a different story. With used vehicles, there must be a registered history of the vehicle. This history will generally include everything, from previous broken and replaced parts, to any accidents that the vehicle has endured. It will also state if it had been used for jobs in a business, or if it had previously been used in high-stress jobs.

These jobs can be many things, such as a continuous taxi service, or used as a company vehicle. There are also points where vehicles will be used as rental vehicles, to be rented out by groups like hotel members. Some other places, such as airports, use rental vehicles for people visiting from another country that may not be able to bring their vehicle along.

Why does this matter?

Understanding why the title of a rental vehicle matters is important to understanding why a dealership may try to hide it from you, the customer. Unlike other conditions or situations, a rental vehicle has a much longer track history than other vehicles.

A rental vehicle is generally known to have been used by hundreds of other guests, customers, or users. This means many different people have handled the vehicle, and may have caused severe wear and tear beyond a normal amount to the vehicle, that may or may not render the vehicle completely past its lifespan.

You may think that simply replacing some parts in the vehicle would fix this issue, but that is wishful thinking. There are some parts of a vehicle that simply cannot be fixed by swapping out the part. As such, the accumulated stress from being used by many different people can cause the vehicle to have a shorter lifespan, resulting in a much quicker decline.

Attempts to hide these facts

You would think that dealerships would be honest and upfront about these kinds of situations, but that could not be further from the truth. Truly, in these situations, dealerships actually tend to hide these facts from a potential customer, knowing full well if it were known, that the chances of the vehicle being bought would go down rapidly.

They may also attempt to slip this information in unnoticed by you in the agreement contract. If they are able to slip this in, such as an extra sheet that needs to be signed, they would be able to pass it off as saying that they technically did inform you, and so you knew what you were buying into. They may attempt these underhanded methods because, surprisingly, it is illegal to withhold such information about a vehicle from a buyer.

What to do

As it is illegal for a dealership to not notify you of a car's previous history and users, you may have a solid case to actually sue the dealership in question. You may qualify if you were sold a car that was previously a rental, and you were not informed that it was a rental until after the purchase, and after the cooling off period has ended. If both of these conditions are met, it may be best to contact an experienced attorney to find out what you need to take the dealership to court.

If done correctly, this may lead to you getting your just rewards, such as the vehicle you actually wanted. However, you may also be saving multiple possible customers from getting scammed in the same fashion and technique. So, it is important to always ask for a history of a vehicle, as well as keep track of any documentation and conversations held between you and the salesperson. This will help to keep you safe from this possible scam, and keep you on the right track to getting the vehicle of your dreams.

Hold Your Landlord, Credit Agency, or Negligent Party Accountable

While financial compensation is a goal in many of the cases we handle, holding the parties who are responsible for your physical and financial safety accountable is just as important.


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