Unscrupulous New Mexico Car Dealers Often Fail To Disclose Prior Wreck Damage

Used Car Salesman

Treinen Law Office has lots of experience handling lawsuits against New Mexico car dealers, with our attorneys having handled over 200 such lawsuits in the last twenty years. Over the years, we have gained vast experience with the tricks and traps commonly used by unscrupulous dealers. Our attorneys have represented consumers against more than 50 dealers. We have represented consumers against dealers all over the state.

The most common complaint we see involves the dealer misrepresenting the history or condition of the car. Consumers often come to us once they realize that their car had been wrecked before they bought it. They often learn of this fraud when they go to trade in the car and the second dealer asks them if they knew their car had been in a prior accident. Other times, a bumper or panel comes loose, paint starts peeling, the vehicle does not track straight or electrical problems persist. Such problems sometimes cause a deeper investigation, resulting in the uncovering of evidence of a prior accident.

If there is reason to think a car might have been wrecked, our firm will have the vehicle inspected by an independent expert. This expert can then explain to a judge or jury, through the use of pictures taken as part of his inspection, all the signs of prior wreck damage and repairs a competent dealer inspection should have caught. The expert can tell how much the value of the car is impacted by the prior wreck. He can also explain why poor repairs made the car unsafe, as is sometimes the case.

An undisclosed prior accident can result in serious safety issues. The frame can be off kilter. The airbags are sometimes not replaced because airbag replacement is expensive. Welds on structural components can be poorly performed. In one instance, the dealer failed to tell the consumer of the prior accident, which had involved poor repairs where the airbag was not replaced. The consumer was in a subsequent accident, resulting in the consumer’s death, and serious injuries to her daughter, because of the lack of airbags.

The dealer’s fraud can take many forms. The dealer will have either directly lied to the consumer, with the dealer stating that the car had never been in a wreck, or the dealer will have failed to mention the prior wreck. Other times the dealer says the car had been in a minor accident, sometimes calling it a “fender bender,” even though in reality the accident had been serious, perhaps involving frame damage.

If you find that you have been sold a wrecked car and the dealer told you that the car had not been in accident, or failed to disclose the accident, or disclosed a minor accident but the accident was in reality more serious, New Mexico law provides you powerful protections. Under the law, a dealer is required to perform a competent inspection before selling a car, with the inspection designed to uncover the many tell-tale signs of prior wreck damage and repairs. The dealer is supposed to document the extent and cost of all the prior repairs caused by the accident and, if the cost of repairs from the prior accident is more than six percent of the sale price, provide an affidavit that tells about the prior accident and repairs, along with the inspection report that documents exactly what was found. Unscrupulous dealers do not follow this law. They would rather lie about the history and condition of the car in order to sell it for much more than it is worth.
Selling a wrecked car for full retail price can net the dealer a substantial profit because the dealer may have paid little for the car due to its history. Some dealers in New Mexico have a long history of selling wrecked cars without fair disclosure.

Other dealer tricks we often see involve the dealer refusing to comply with New Mexico’s New Car Lemon Law or Used Car Lemon Law, selling used vehicles as new, rolling back odometers or engaging in spot delivery. With spot delivery, the consumer signs the finance contract and drives off in the car, but the dealer than says the consumer must return the car unless the consumer comes up with more money for the down payment. But discussion of those tricks and traps will be saved for another day.

If you think you may have been defrauded by a car dealer, Treinen Law Office may be able to help you. We can arrange for an inspection. We are willing to consult with you for free and use our experience to help you figure out the truth about your car.


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