Crime & Courts

Wichita dealer sold car for nearly $12K, but it had $10K in frame damage, DA says

A south Wichita used car dealership specializing in selling cars that have been totaled and rebuilt admitted it sold a damaged car that wasn’t fixed.

Nabil Sayegh, owner of the Automax at 940 S. Broadway, agreed to pay nearly $10,000 in fines and other costs after an investigation by the consumer protection division of the Sedgwick County district attorney’s office. Sayegh also refunded the customer who spent nearly $12,000 on a car with an undisclosed $10,000 in frame damage.

In addition to not disclosing the damage, Sayegh failed to disclose multiple safety recalls and did not provide a buyer’s guide, District Attorney Marc Bennett said Wednesday in a news release.

The investigation began when a Sedgwick County woman filed a complaint with the DA. Investigators detailed the facts of the case in a consent judgment filed Aug. 27 in Sedgwick County District Court. In the court document, Sayegh admitted the alleged violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.

Investigators found that the customer purchased a 2014 Chrysler 300 from Sayegh and Automax for over $11,800 in November 2018. The first sign that something was wrong with the automobile was what the customer thought were traction issues. She bought over $400 worth of new tires, but the tire store said they couldn’t perform a wheel alignment because of frame issues.

The customer took the car back to Automax in February. The dealership agreed to perform an alignment, but disputed that there were problems with the frame. When the traction issues continued, Automax agreed to pay $1,100 to fix the frame.

A local body shop estimated frame repairs would cost just over $10,000, and the consumer filed a complaint in March. Automax then refunded the full purchase price of the vehicle.

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Investigators discovered three open safety recalls that were not corrected, disclosed or addressed prior to the sale. The recalls regarded an electronic shifter lever, powertrain control module and passenger airbag inflator.

A local auto body repair shop found multiple issues with the frame. The manager said it was apparent the vehicle had been in an accident and the damage could be a future safety factor if the car were to suffer an impact in its left rear quarter.

“If it got hit again in the rear, as it is right now, it is kind of scary what could happen,” the repair shop manager told investigators.

The court ordered Automax to pay more than $900 in restitution to the customer, nearly $200 in court costs, over $600 in investigative fees and expenses and $8,000 in civil penalties. Sayegh must also check all vehicles he has sold for undisclosed safety recalls and whether an airbag had been deployed prior to the sale. If so, he must notify and compensate the customer.

“Recalls and repairs are free and covered by the manufacturer,” Bennett said in the release. “Other safety issues may also impact your decision to buy the car. Dealerships selling cars for normal (“merchantable”) use must be in a reasonably safe condition, substantially free of defects that could render them inoperable, and they must perform up to the level reasonably expected of cars of the same age, mileage, and price.”

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