Crime & Courts

Wichita car dealer gets hit with $20,000 penalty for selling wrecked car

What should you look for when buying a used car?

Chris Pack of Auto Tech Service points out what consumers should look out for when looking into a used car to buy. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
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Chris Pack of Auto Tech Service points out what consumers should look out for when looking into a used car to buy. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

A Wichita car dealer has agreed to pay approximately $20,000 in fines and restitution after selling a customer a vehicle without disclosing that it had been wrecked and repaired, a consumer protection prosecutor said Friday.

The vehicle, a 2006 Honda Accord, was sold by a company called Car Nation LLC at 1301 E. Lincoln, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

The buyer drove the car for several months, but when he took it to a shop for routine maintenance, a mechanic found that the airbag had been deployed and replaced and that the frame of the car was damaged, said Avery Elofsson, chief of the district attorney’s consumer protection division.

The owner of the dealership, Olukayode Ajibolade, could not be reached for comment Friday and a search of the Kansas secretary of state’s database turned up no business registration for Car Nation LLC.

Elofsson said the failure to disclose the problems with the car violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. In addition, the sales contract was in violation because it attempted to limit the implied warranty that state law requires from merchants.

“When you’re buying from your neighbor or somebody on Facebook, you get what you get, you can buy it as-is,” Elofsson said. “But if you go to a brick and mortar establishment . . . they’re responsible for the goods they’re selling.”

The minimum standard is that the product will be suitable for its normal intended use, he said.

“If I buy a toaster, I assume it’s going to toast bread,” he said.

With a car, the minimum expectation is that it will be safe to drive and perform at a level reasonably expected of a car of the same age, mileage and price.

“They (merchants) can’t sell you stuff typically as-is, especially not cars and not in Kansas,” Elofsson said.

Ajibolade agreed in a consent judgment to pay a $15,000 fine and to refund the $5,213.75 that the customer paid to buy the car.

The judgment also requires the company to audit its records to determine if it sold cars with undisclosed manufacturer recalls and compensate the customers if it did.

The district attorney’s office suggests that consumers considering buying a car have it inspected by a trusted mechanic, ask for a vehicle history report, and check for any recalls at www.safercar.gov/vin, a site operated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.
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