We've all heard the stories, used cars advertised as "like new" but turn out to be a wreck on wheels. The I-Team went undercover and found hidden problems that could put your family in danger or cost you more to fix than that ride is actually worth.
Kaleena Young’s dream car turned out to be a hunk of junk. It wasn't until after Young bought the sedan did she discover the last owner totaled it just last year.
Carfax estimates a third of all car buyers, more than 11 million a year purchase their ride from a private seller via Craigslist or other online ad.
But we found online sellers don't always know about or disclose major defects. There is no regulation on individual sales meaning they can put anything online they want to sell.
We searched ads on Craigslist and found a dozen vehicles with major problems including rebuilt titles, odometer roll backs and serious structural damage not mentioned in vehicle’s glossy description.
We set appointments with the sellers and brought an undercover camera along to show you the problem rides. We found a 1996 Acura in Largo. The Craigslist ad shows 112,000 miles. We pulled the Carfax and found the DMV reported 161,000 miles back in 2011. I questioned the seller who said he had no idea and that his family had only owned the car for 2 years.
Next we met with the owner of a 2003 Nissan in Clearwater. The ad describes the Altima as immaculate. The seller claimed the vehicle had never been in a wreck.
But the Carfax shows a crash that caused structural damage back in 2003. The man told us he bought the car a year ago and knew nothing about any past accident.
We visited another private seller in New Port Richey to look over a 2008 mustang. The ad described the car as being in great condition. The title labeled as clean.
The GT looked like new and only had 43 thousand miles on it. Again the Carfax painted a different picture. The DMV issued a salvage title back in 2010 meaning someone totaled the car then rebuilt it.
When I asked the seller about the title he admitted the title was branded as salvaged but didn't want to disclose that in the ad.
Kaleena Young serves as a devastating case in point regarding the pitfalls of not pulling a car's history or taking it to a mechanic for a full inspection. Or else you'll never know what's hiding under the shiny hood.
There are several resources some of them free to back ground a vehicle.