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Legal Protections for Purchasers of Used Vehicles in Santa Fe

David Humphreys May 7, 2024

The used car dealer business has always been filled with dirty players looking to gain maximum profit at your expense. One long term deceptive practice by some unscrupulous car dealers is taking place right here in Santa Fe. As a used vehicle buyer in New Mexico, you are protected by enforceable laws designed to prevent car dealers from engaging in certain types of fraud. Specifically, if you buy a vehicle from a used car dealer in Santa Fe, or anywhere in New Mexico, you have a legal right to be informed if the vehicle you are buying has previous wreck or frame damage greater than six percent of its fair market value.

Unfortunately, the law has not prevented at least one Santa Fe car dealer from selling wrecked cars without the required notice to consumers. We are aware of at least one franchise new vehicle dealer breaking the law by selling wreck damaged used vehicles without conducting thorough inspections and failing to disclose prior damage or frame repair using the required affidavit.

As a consumer law firm dedicated to safeguarding the rights of New Mexico consumers, we feel it is our duty to shed light on this issue and protect potential used vehicle buyers from the risks associated with purchasing previously wrecked or frame damaged vehicles.

The Legal Obligations of Car Dealers:

Car dealers in New Mexico have a legal responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they sell are safe and accurately represented. This includes conducting thorough inspections to identify any previous damage greater than six percent of its fair market value or frame repair. Additionally, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle laws requires car dealers to disclose any prior damage or frame repair using an affidavit presented to and signed by you before the sale. By neglecting these obligations, the Santa Fe car dealer in question has violated consumer protection laws and put unsuspecting buyers at risk.

The Risks of Buying Wreck Damaged Vehicles:

Purchasing a previously wrecked or frame damaged vehicle without proper disclosure poses significant risks to consumers. These risks extend beyond potential safety concerns to financial implications as well. Here are some key risks to consider:

  1. Safety Compromises: Wreck damaged vehicles may have hidden structural issues that compromise their overall safety. In the event of a subsequent accident, such vehicles may fail to provide adequate protection to occupants, leading to serious injuries or even fatalities.

  2. Reduced Resale Value: Buying a wreck damaged vehicle without proper disclosure can have long-term financial consequences. Such vehicles often suffer from diminished resale value, making it challenging to recover the initial investment when it comes time to sell or trade-in.

  3. Hidden Maintenance Costs: Wreck damaged vehicles may require extensive repairs and ongoing maintenance due to the concealed damage. These unforeseen expenses can quickly add up, placing an unnecessary burden on unsuspecting buyers.

Protecting Yourself as a Buyer:

As a prospective used vehicle buyer, it is crucial to take proactive steps to protect yourself from falling victim to deceptive practices. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Research the Vehicle's History: Obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report, which should include information about any previous accidents or damage. This report can provide valuable insights into the vehicle's past and help you make an informed decision.

  2. Get a Professional Inspection: Before finalizing a purchase, have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic or a certified auto technician. They can identify any hidden damage or repair work that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

  3. Consult with Knowledgeable Lawyer: If you suspect that you have been a victim of deceptive practices or have unknowingly purchased a wreck damaged vehicle without proper disclosure, seek legal advice. Knowledgeable consumer law attorneys can guide you through the legal process and help you seek appropriate compensation.

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The case of the Santa Fe car dealer selling wreck damaged used vehicles without thorough inspections and failing to disclose prior damage or frame repair is a stark reminder of the importance of consumer protection. As a New Mexico consumer, or anyone buying a vehicle in Santa Fe or throughout our state, you have the right to expect transparency and honesty when purchasing a used vehicles. By arming yourself with knowledge, conducting proper research, and seeking legal guidance ,you can safeguard your rights and avoid unscrupulous practices.