North Richland Hills Auto Informative - Selling Defective VW Beetle

Review by Megalo Skilo on 2006-07-11
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TEXAS -- My wife and I bought a 2001 VW Beetle from North Hills Auto Inc. in North Richland Hills (NRH), Texas, in July of 2005. It only had 41k miles on it and looked in great condition for its age. Basically the car had an electrical defect, we found out a few weeks later. I suspect it was probably caused by the previous owner. It was going to require a new wiring harness which a VW dealer quoted at a cost of $5,700 (we paid about $12k for the car), so not too practical.

We believe this dealer was aware of it but somehow was able to conceal it. We were even provided a ninety day extended warranty that was purchased by the dealer through a third party company – so you can understand why we were relatively comfortable buying the car since we thought we had some protection against defects. But of course as you might expect, a wiring harness was one of the few things the warranty did NOT cover.

The effect was that certain electrical components wouldn't work on occasion. But the main thing was the speedometer and odometer. The speedometer indicator hand would bounce back and forth so you couldn't readily see how fast you were driving. With the odometer it became apparent that it was only logging 10-15% of the actuall miles traveled. Other problems due to this electrical short were fuses blowing on occasion, the radio going out, electric windows/sunroof not working, etc.

We tried to get North Hills Auto to fix the problem or take the car back, but to no avail. We learned our lesson the hard way. Don't ever do business with small car lots or dealerships, especially this one.
Comments:6 Replies - Latest reply on 2006-07-16
Posted by Doc J on 2006-07-11:
$5700 is worth a $100, twenty minute consult with an attorney. Thanks for the heads up!
Posted by glc on 2006-07-11:
If the odometer was only logging 10-15% of the actual miles travelled, then this vehicle had alot more than 41K miles on it when you purchased it. If the mileage discrepancy could be proved, the dealer may have materially misrepresented this vehicle. As Doc said, spend a few dollars and see an attorney.
Posted by Hugh_Jorgen on 2006-07-12:
The first thing that came to mind when I read this was "flood car". You can clean up a flooded car pretty well, but the creeping corrosion will play heck with the electrical system forever. I don't know what can be done now to help with this car, but FWIW, will all the post-Katrina cars out there I would CarFax anything I am thinking of buying.
Posted by Doc J on 2006-07-12:
Hugh-An aquaintance car dealer told me to "stay completely away from auction cars" for at least two years. Same for any car with ANY registration or use history from hurricane affected areas. Crooks are trying to scam CarFax with some of these cars. The bad guys are changing out flood car's VIN plates for "clean" ones from identical wrecked cars in non-flood areas or making entirely new plates with known, clean numbers from wrecks and other sources(a 15 minute job that most backyard buyers won't be able to detect). It would be a good idea to have a smart shop to verify that the VIN matches everywhere on the involved vehicle.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-07-15:
^^^ OK Larry, it's time for your medication.
Posted by Megalo Skilo on 2006-07-16:
After reading some of the follow-up comments, which I appreciate, I thought I should add a few notes of my own.

We were provided a CarFax report – which by the way did not indicate the car had been in any accidents, yet there was evidence we saw later of at least some minor body work. I don't think the car was flood damaged, no evidence of that. We did have the dash removed to reveal a small blue plastic "clip-like" device, which seemed to indicate someone had clipped on or spliced in an electrical device previously, thus causing a short or melting of some of the wiring insulation.

Nonetheless, I regret not having taken it to an independent shop to have it checked out before purchasing it, my mistake. I also did contact a lawyer who specialized in consumer affairs, she said we didn't have any leg to stand on. Oh well, live and learn. We finally traded it in to a VW dealer on a new VW Beetle. We made them aware of the odometer problem and they hooked it up to a computer which told them the computer could not communicate with the car. Hence, I assume they will be able to fix the problem at a significantly lower price before reselling it. Hopefully, they don't just pass it on to the wholesale market without this repair being made. Otherwise, another fool like me will wind up with the same problem.

Thanks for everyone's input.

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