THOMASVILLE, NC -- Car shopping is be a big ordeal. What make and model do you want? What kind of gas mileage does it get and so on.
One question no buyer should ever have to worry about in North Carolina --- is whether or not the car is salvaged. That's because anyone selling a car is required to tell you.
Salvaged means the car has been heavily damaged before. And knowing that gives you the chance to have it thoroughly checked out first.
But that didn't happen for Shelia Watts of High Point, N.C. Watts says she did not know the car she bought was salvaged. She reached out to WFMY News 2 Wants To Know for some help.
The 1995 gold Saturn doesn't really have a scratch on it. Shelia Watts says, "It's a pretty nice looking."
It may look good. but it doesn't run. When Shelia turns the key in the ignition, the engine doesn't make a peep. She says, "It won't hold a charge." Shelia is stranded and mad. She paid $2,000 for the car for a car that's been parked for months. She says, "I'm disabled and we have appointments. It's your independence. You take that independence away, and you're actually out here knocking on doors, begging for someone to help you."
Shelia bought the car from H & H Auto Sales in Thomasville. She asked the dealer for her money back. "He said no. You're not getting your money back. You done signed a bill of sale and we meant as is."
Typically that's true. but maybe not in this case. You see, the bill of sale says one thing. "Is this vehicle a salvage motor vehicle? He says,' no'." But the title for Shelia's car says "salvage." By law, H & H was required to tell Shelia - in writing - the car was salvaged.
We tried repeatedly to talk with someone at H&H, but no one wouldn't talk to us. 2 Wants To Know found the paperwork the dealer filed with the state when it sold Shelia the car. This form shows the DMV inspected the car and noted it had a "salvage history."
Shelia says, "I was deceived. I felt like they took advantage of me."
Call for Action sent Shelia's bill of sale to the DMV, showing H&H checked "no" to salvage vehicle. Now the DMV has charged Phil Hemric Sr. with not disclosing the Saturn was a salvaged vehicle. But Shelia wants more from H & H. "I wanted them to take the car back and consider all the cost of my parts and I asked for $3000."
Even if H & H had told Sheila the car was salvaged, the state says that's still not enough. The state requires the notice in writing so the title for the car can stay branded as salvage. The state says it's important we know if we're buying a salvaged car.
T.D. Walters, a DMV inspector, says, "That way they can take it to the mechanic. Take a look at it look underneath the car. See if there's any frame damage or any excessive damage that may change their mind about purchasing the vehicle."
But that's not the only issue. I know. I was surprised. It's actually about value. A car that's been wrecked so badly it's deemed salvaged has lost most of its value. The DMV says it doesn't want us to pay top dollar for that car. In Shelia's case, she paid $2,000 for the car. But according to Edmund's, it may have only been worth between 1,100 and $1,300.
The best ways to protect yourself when you buy a used car :have it checked out by a mechanic and get a Carfax report.