Car dealer refuses to refund even after deeming SUV unsafe
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Lauralyn Brannock remembers being impressed the moment she saw it. It was perfect. Large enough to hold all her stuff but cute enough for a family.
The 2017 Chevy Equinox was exactly what Brannock was looking for.
“I really like it,” Brannock said.
It didn’t take long before Brannock left with her new car. She paid about $13,000 for the SUV and couldn’t have been happier.
“I felt good about it,” Brannock said.
A few days later, Brannock noticed a rattle coming from the SUV. She wasn’t sure what it was, so she decided it would be best to take it to a mechanic. What she discovered made her cry.
“He said it was unsafe to drive. He didn’t want me to drive her home that day,” Brannock said.
The SUV, according to the mechanic, needed several things repaired including the tire. The undercarriage and several parts were covered in rust.
“I hope it’s safe to drive,” Brannock said.
Brannock then contacted the dealer and asked for a refund or to purchase a different SUV. Brannock said the agency was unwilling to help and refused to refund her money.
“I’m still paying for the car, and it’s not safe to drive,” Brannock said.
She wasn’t sure what to do, so she called WFMY News 2 to see if we could help. We tried to contact the agency, but no one returned our calls. After several weeks of leaving messages, we went to the dealership.
A man who said he was a salesperson showed us some paperwork associated with the car sale and told us we needed to talk to someone else. He said the owner was out of the country and we had to talk to him.
We waited a few weeks and then called again. We tried to speak with the owner but again our calls were not answered. So we went back to the agency.
We spoke to the same salesperson who again said the owner was out of the country. He said he would be back in a week and would call then.
We have called on several occasions and our calls either went unanswered or were put on hold after identifying ourselves.
The sales representative said the SUV was sold “as is” and passed a safety inspection before being sold. This safety inspection is performed by the state, but does not include a comprehensive inspection that can identify worn parts, severe rust, or a damaged frame.
After the dealer refused to refund Brannock’s money or ask the owner to return our calls, we wanted to see how safe or unsafe this SUV was.
We had the owner of Pat’s Auto Body and Towing inspect the SUV. Sandra Scarlett had the SUV on the lift and showed us all the problems with the SUV.
She immediately pointed out several rusty parts and showed us where the frame was bent and cracked.
“This car has been in an accident; probably more than one,” Scarlett said. “If you look at all the rust on this SUV, it’s trash.”
We asked Scarlett on a scale of 1 to 10 how safe this SUV is, and she gave it a 2.
“I wouldn’t feel safe in this car,” Scarlett said.
Scarlett said the SUV was in such bad shape that her shop wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to fix it. She said the body would need to be welded, making the frame weak. Scarlett said the remaining repairs to the SUV will cost more than $7,000.
In most cases, the buyer will be limited in what they can do. The vehicle is sold “as is” to the buyer, in which case Brannock assumes full responsibility for any repairs. This may ultimately be the case, but it doesn’t change the fact that this SUV is not considered safe, at least according to mechanics.
There is also a case document that the dealer signed for Brannock at the time of purchase. The policy states that the vehicle was not damaged by the collision or any other event to the extent that the damage exceeds 25% of its value at the time of the collision or other event.
Brannock filed a formal complaint with the DMV’s Licensing and Theft Division. The case is currently being investigated. When a decision is made, we’ll be sure to let you know.