Consumer Investigation: She paid in full for a car that doesn’t run and she says the dealer never gave her the title. And she’s not alone.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — I have an update on our consumer investigation of a Rochester used car dealership. A customer says she’s heartbroken after her experience at United Auto Solutions.
In my first story, a man paid in full for a car the dealership never delivered. Since then, about a half a dozen other customers have reached out to me. They claim they were asked to pay cash for a car that doesn’t run. And in every case, the customers say the dealership never provided the title.
All Shatorion Williams wanted was a reliable car. She spotted a 2008 Buick Lucerne on the United Auto Solutions Facebook page, which disappeared shortly after my first investigation aired.
"I test drove it and everything seemed okay,” Williams said. “It seemed great. And once we done that, she told me it needed to go for an inspection."
She paid for the car in full, more than $4,510.60.
"She was like, oh, it won’t take long. I sat there that day for about four to six hours, if I’m not mistaken. I even sat there after hours," Williams said.
Six hours for an inspection? Finally, they asked her to return the next day, Nov. 30.
"So were you able to drive off in the vehicle the next day?” I asked her.
“I wasn’t able to drive off in the vehicle for another four hours,” Williams replied.
What took so long? I may have found the answer in the vehicle history report. The car failed emissions first on Nov. 30, 2021, the day she picked up the car. In fact, this car has been failing successive emissions tests since 2015.
"Did anybody tell you that your vehicle failed its emissions tests?” I asked her.
“No one told me,” she replied.
But four days later, she would learn that something was very wrong when the car wouldn’t start.
"We came back to the car and tried to crank the car, it wouldn’t crank. That was the very first problem,” she said.
She says it was one of many costly problems the dealership couldn’t or wouldn’t fix. Finally, she took the car to Firestone and learned the car needs a catalytic converter, a $1,300 repair.
"I was shocked,” Williams said. ”I was like, ‘$1,300!’”
Making matters worse, she says the dealership never provided her promised title and registration.
“They just telling me they done the paperwork and it’s coming in the mail," Williams recalled.
Text messages show she texted weekly through February asking for her title and registration. More text messages in March on the first, 7th, 9th, and 10th.
By the 14th she’d had it. "I need my title or money back," she wrote.
To which the dealership replied, "Please stop blowing up my phone."
When she threatened to go to the DMV, the dealer brought her another temporary registration.
"There was nothing legitimate about the paper. She sent a fake paper. In my opinion, it was a fake paper,” Williams said.
Here’s why Williams was suspicious. The font on the expiration date is very different from the rest of the registration. Was this an old registration that had been altered? Now Williams is at wit’s end. Her message for the dealership is simple.
"Treat people how you want to be treated,” Williams said.
I reached out to the dealership by phone, email and Facebook. I got no response. It’s important to note that even if you buy a used car with more than 100,000 miles, the law states the dealer must certify that the vehicle is operating. I specifically wanted to know if that registration had been altered. The DMV says that information is part of its ongoing investigation. The DMV stresses that if you have a complaint about this dealership or any other, call them at (518) 474-8943. The DMV is often able to get restitution for victims and take action against the dealer.
If you’re in the market for a used car, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Here’s Deanna’s Do List:
- Set a car-buying budget and don’t budge.
- Be able to walk away. Don’t get emotionally attached.
- Find affordable financing before you hit the lot. Because lenders consider used car financing riskier than new car financing, rates may be higher. Shop around. LendingTree, Bankrate and CarGurus are great places to start.
- Be prepared. Know your credit score. Also, research the Kelley Blue Book price for your car before you hit the lot.
- Get a vehicle history report. Carfax and AutoCheck are the best-known companies that sell history reports. New Yorkers can also get free vehicle information at NYVincheck.com.
You can also get limited information at a number of free sites including the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Vehiclehistory.com, and Iseecars.com.
Make sure the person selling the car owns the title to the car. Click here to do that.
Ask a trusted mechanic to inspect the car before you buy. First, after you test drive the car, have it checked by a mechanic. I called 10 auto repair shops in the Rochester area last spring. All had good reputations with the BBB, and the price for a pre-purchase inspection runs from $20 to $130. And if that helps avoid buying a money pit, that’s a few bucks well spent.
- Goodyear, A+ BBB rating, $62.50
- Chili Automotive, A+ BBB rating, $125.0
- Independence Car Care Center, A+ BBB rating, $59.99
- Lewis General, A+ BBB rating, $19.95
- Vesa’s Automotive, A+ BBB rating, $55
- Rytek Automotive, A BBB rating, $80.00
- Schoen Auto, A+ BBB rating, $78 or $130
- Tony’s, A+ BBB rating, Manager didn’t quote a price.