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Beware of the Independent Used Car Dealer

Updated on March 3, 2012

It was late January in Texas. Suddenly, the very last straw that broke the camels back occurs. You see, I had just lost a job that I held for 24 years, and now, I just totaled my car in a freak car accident. I was coming home from just running up to the neighborhood 7-11 to get some sodas and glanced down for just a second....BANG!

If anyone knows anything about Texas weather, especially in late January and February, you just have to wait and see each morning what will come. As fate would have it, I received the check for my totaled car and the next day a winter storm blew through Texas. Ice and snow turned the metropolis of Dallas into a ghost town. (Texans, and I am born and raised here, do not know how to drive on ice and snow! It only happens maybe once a year and is mostly ice. Nor do our fine cities have the resources to protect the major highways with de-icer agents)

My insurance gave me 5 days of a rental car after receiving my check. I had no job, no car, and 5 days at least find a car. In the past, I was able to locate an independent used car dealer which was a great experience. My dearly departed car was paid for in cash from one such individual. I loved that car!

Independent used car dealers apply for a dealers license, then buy cars from auction, restore and/or repair them, then resell. They are completely legitimate. Many have offices, plaques on the walls, licenses on the walls, and there are some excellent and honest people who make good money doing an honest business. There are also those who are swindlers.

This is what I have learned the hard way. I purchased a 2002 Honda Civic from an independent used car dealer. Total purchase price still left me with $700.00 from my insurance check and that was a good thing since I was unemployed. My search for another car was dramatically challenged due to time restraints and the ice and snow that crippled the city. I asked for a CarFax but the smooth talking salesman never produced it and my desperation clouded my logical mind and never demanded it. My Honda had an Arkansas title. No big deal, I was told.'I will pay for the title transfer fees', my dealer told me. Arkansas doesn't have state inspection either, so my dealer conveniently offered to pay for the state inspection as well. 'I have a shop that does all of my work for me'. I tentively drove my new, used car in the ice and snow to the shop he suggested, just mentioned his name and said he was going to pay for inspection, ZIP, BAM, BOOM-I was driving again in my new, used car.

About a week later, I went to the grocery store. Opened the trunk to load my groceries, closed the trunk....what?...the trunk would not latch. I continually tried to shut the trunk several times. Then tried slamming the trunk and eventually it did. Still, I believed it was just a freak incident. I was now working. I absolutely love my job! When God closes one door, He opens a window. A saying I was always taught in my Southern Baptist upbringing, and I believe it still.

Never Buy a Car With An Out of State Title!

I was driving to work one day. BANG, CRUNCH, RATTLE....the most terrible noises. I just had a blow out, or so I thought. I literally saw debris flying off of my car and into traffic. Luckily, it caused not a single accident. (WHEW) I pulled over to survey the damage. My tire had separated. I know everyone has seen the long strips of rubber on the highway from 18 wheelers. The same happened to my tire. Texas heat I suppose. Somehow, the tire was not flat. The layer of rubber that had separated also ripped the quarter panel of the car OFF but I was due to work in 15 minutes, and had just a half of mile to go. I slowly drove to work. Worked my shift. When I got off, I set about changing the tire to go home.

You would not even believe my shock when I peeled back the carpet to reveal the spare tire compartment. Not only did I find out that I had no spare tire, but also that the spare tire compartment was a mess of twisted metal. My 'new/used' car, it turns out was a salvage vehicle in Arkansas. It also seems that if a car is deemed unfit for resale in one state, if you bring it to another state, find a naive buying who is desperate, it is perfectly legal to RIP THEM OFF.

Now it all made sense. The trunk that wouldn't close. Kind of hard when the frame is bent! I now had a good job but was playing catch up from the time of unemployment. I couldn't get another car and really didn't want a car payment(I haven't had a car payment in 15 years!). Good old fashioned 'southern engineering' kept this car running.

Please, I understand that pressure and nessecity may force you to make a snap decision when buying a car, but BEWARE THE INDEPENDENT USED CAR DEALER!!! And the out of state title.

Although I am now in the same situation. Another accident totaled the cursed Honda. I am so glad to be rid of that car. My sister graciously gave me her old car until I can afford to get another. I will not be rushed into buying another car ever again. Due to the fact that the Honda was a salvage in Arkansas, I received $3,000 for it from insurance. My last car, the one I loved, a 1990 Toyota Camery was worth $7,000 just a year earlier.

Again, Buyers Beware.


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    • profile image

      Dog Advisor 5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment snowdrops. I really felt so stupid. The moral of this is 'Live and Learn'

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Oh my gosh. It really happens, even here, in our small town, people knew each other but then they'd deal you a car with dishonest intentions. Thanks for this share!

    • Dog Advisor profile image

      Sarah Falkner 5 years ago from Dog Advice

      Thank you Mac31, for your comment. I have reliable transportation right now and will take my time looking for something else this time. I will never again be rushed into just getting 'something'

      Thanks again.

    • Mac31 profile image

      Mac31 5 years ago from United States

      Well it doesn't surprise to me to hear about yet another dealership taking advantage of there customers. Hear is a little advice for you on your next car that you purchase. Before buying a new car make sure you take a look at it but make sure you write the VIN number down and do a search of the VIN on the website.

      This website will show you if the car has ever been in an accident and most importantly if the title is a salvaged vehicle.

      Hope this helps you with your next purchase.

      Good Luck!