Ohio Auto Fraud
When shopping for a used vehicle in Ohio, you have certain rights as a consumer. For example, you have the right to know the true mileage of the vehicle, the ownership history of the vehicle and the true condition of the vehicle. If a dealership fails to produce this information (to the best of their knowledge), it can constitute fraud. Below we will discuss the different types of fraud that may arise with the sale of a used vehicle.
Vehicle transactions may include, but are not limited to, the following types of fraudulent activity:
- TAMPERING WITH THE ODOMETER– The number shown on an odometer may not actually be the correct mileage of a vehicle. A car’s odometer can be disconnected or dialed back to show a different, inaccurate number to mislead the consumer. Check to see whether the odometer has been tampered with by looking for stickers from oil changes, or other documents that may indicate the accurate mileage of the vehicle. Also, look at the odometer to make sure the numbers are aligned properly. Misaligned numbers on an odometer gauge are a sign of tampering and should be investigated.
SALVAGED VEHICLES OR VEHICLES WITH PRIOR DAMAGE– When a vendor sells a vehicle which has been rebuilt poorly after a wreck, it can risk the safety of the buyer. Some dealers put a fresh coat of paint on these cars and advertise or imply that they are newer or better than they actually are, and then price them too high for their actual value. Although they may look good at first glance, these vehicles may have a number of problems including problems with the steering, brakes, or welded parts. These dealers have a legal obligation to disclose the true condition of the vehicle. If they do not reveal information to the best of their knowledge about prior damage to the car at the time of purchase, they are likely committing fraud.
If you are in the process of purchasing a used vehicle in Ohio, look for the following before committing to your purchase:
- Even paint that matches the inside and outside of the door frame;
- Aligned parts such as the trunk, hood and doors with few gaps; and
- Evidence of flood damage such as water stains, mud or moisture under the seats or in the trunk.
DISCLOSURE OF VEHICLE HISTORY
The entire history of a vehicle (to the best of the knowledge of the seller) must be disclosed to the buyer at the time of purchase of a vehicle in Ohio. Failure to do so can constitute fraud. As a consumer, you have the legal right to know the true vehicle history before you commit to a purchase. The last thing anyone wants is to buy a car and find out about all its problems later on.
RENTAL VEHICLES MASKED AS “EXECUTIVE DRIVEN”
Some dealers are in the habit of advertising vehicles as “executive driven” when, in fact, these cars have actually been used for rental purposes. “Executive driven” implies that the car was previously owned and driven by a single individual. When a dealer advertises a vehicle that has been used for rental as executive driven, they are often implicitly understating the actual wear and tear that the vehicle has been through, thus committing fraud.
HOW TO PREVENT CONSUMER AUTO FRAUD IN OHIO
Look for the following to prevent a dealership from committing fraud when you go to purchase a used vehicle:
- Obtain a written statement of the actual mileage on the odometer gauge at time of purchase;
- New paint can often be used to mask old car parts that may not function properly. Find out which parts have been replaced, when, by whom, and the quality of the parts; and
- Compare the mileage disclosed on the odometer gauge and the actual condition of the car. Do they match?