What Constitutes Auto Fraud in Kansas?
Auto fraud in Kansas may occur in a number of ways via acts of the dealer. An automobile dealership failing to disclose certain information is the most likely scenario in which fraud occurs. They may fail to disclose the true mileage of a vehicle, the prior damage done to the vehicle or other aspects of the vehicle’s history. Below are detailed descriptions of the types of auto fraud that may occur during a vehicle transaction.
MISREPRESENTATION OF TRUE MILEAGE OF A VEHICLE
– An automobile dealership may misrepresent the true mileage of a vehicle to the consumer. They can do this by doing one of the following:
- Dialing back the odometer;
- Disconnecting the odometer; or
- Misstating the correct mileage of a vehicle.
Misrepresenting the accurate mileage of a vehicle can be dangerous to the consumer because a vehicle with more mileage is likely to run into problems sooner. If a consumer purchases a vehicle under the pretense that it has a lower mileage than is true, they may incur unexpected costs due to maintenance and repairs shortly after purchase. There are a few things you can do to combat fraudulent representation of mileage while shopping for a vehicle:
- Look for signs of tampering: If the numbers on the odometer gauge are misaligned, this is a sign that the odometer may have been tampered with;
- Look for proof of mileage: If there are stickers anywhere on the vehicle from the last time the vehicle was serviced, these will often indicate the correct mileage of the vehicle. Look for these and match up the number written on the sticker with the number stated on the odometer gauge; and
- Get a written statement: The Truth in Mileage Act requires the seller of a vehicle to provide documentation disclosing the mileage of the vehicle at the time of purchase. Do not leave a lot without documented proof of the mileage stated to you.
DAMAGE, SALVAGE, & WRECKS
– You are entitled to know the damage that the vehicle you are looking to purchase has incurred over its lifetime. To the best of their knowledge, it is the dealer’s duty to disclose this information before the time of purchase. Information like a salvage title and whether or not the vehicle has been involved in an accident are all subject to full disclosure.
Although in an ideal situation this information would be available to you, this is not always the case. There are things you can look for before purchasing a used car that may indicate signs of damage.
- Look for flood damage. Water stains, mud and moisture in places like the trunk or underneath seats are usually indications of flood damage. If the car has been in a flood, it could affect the function of the vehicle.
- Look for consistencies in parts and paint. The parts of the car should be aligned and there should not be crooked spacing between parts of the car like the trunk and hood and the rest of the body. Also look for even matching of paint on the outer and inner portions of the door frame.
- Look for out-of-state titles. If a car was moved from out-of-state, it could be because of damage to the vehicle.
“EXECUTIVE DRIVEN” OR RENTAL VEHICLE
Some dealers represent vehicles as “executive driven” meaning that they were owned or operated by one primary person (for example, a company car), when in reality these vehicles were used for rental purposes. Rental cars often have more wear and tear than their counterparts and may be subject to more problems than other cars. If the vehicle you are looking to purchase was in fact a prior rental vehicle, that information needs to be disclosed. If it is not disclosed and the dealer has knowledge of this, the dealer has committed fraud.
FRAUD PREVENTION TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
Although there is no foolproof method for preventing auto fraud, there are things that you, yourself can do as a consumer to minimize the risk of fraudulent activity on behalf of the dealership. Below are some tips to protect yourself when looking at a used vehicle.
- Check to see that the overall condition of the vehicle is consistent with the mileage reading on the odometer;
- Look for replaced parts and ask for more information about them; and
- Do your best to avoid vehicles with low mileage that have been represented as part of a fleet.
If you are looking for a Kansas Lemon Law lawyer or Kansas Consumer Fraud Lawyer, call Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® for your consultation. We offer free case reviews. Fill out our contact form to receive a response in 24 hours or less.