Ask Bark: Bitten by a Bark's Bite
One of the great joys I’ve had over the last six years of writing for this site has been offering my advice (for what it’s worth) to the loyal readers of TTAC, the Best & Brightest. Nearly every person whose question I’ve answered has written to tell me that they appreciated what I’ve written in response to their advice, even if he or she didn’t follow it exactly. But today, I got an email from somebody who ended up feeling the sting from my words. Let’s hear from our friend Quincy and see if we can help him.Hi Mark,I was recently reading your article about the deals that could be had on left over inventory and I felt inspired to test the waters. My local Buick dealer in Metro Detroit had a 2018 Regal TourX Preferred in silver with a MSRP of $36k and I was happy to take it home for $23.5k before TTL. However, the honeymoon came to a screeching halt as I was introduced to the concept of lot rot. Back to the dealer for new brakes. To make a long story short, the driver’s front wheel came off during the technician’s new brake road test and moved in a generally northeast pattern towards the A-pillar. With only 444 miles, my car sits in the dealer’s back lot with a driver’s door impinged by a front fender. The only offer from the owner of the dealership is to let them repair the car in-house or they won’t cover the costs of the repairs. Do I really want the dealership that damaged the car to fix it? With no parts is sight (GM strike) and a damaged vehicle history, I’m finding the dealer’s offer leaves me less than satisfied. So what would you do in my shoes?Thanks,QuincyUgh. That sucks.
Let’s focus on the positive — you did get a great deal on a good car.
Okay, that’s all the positives.
Here’s the negative — your dealer sounds like a grade-A fucking thief. Now, you’d think that you’d be entitled to sue them for negligence, but, apparently, tightening the lug nuts after rotating tires is not considered part of the service in certain states. Like yours, for example. Bonkers. It’s possible that the dealer is aware of this ruling, but even so I don’t think it would apply in this case because the damage occurred while the car was still in their possession, and while they were driving it, so I have to believe that any court would find them liable. (Warning: Bark is not a lawyer and this should not be construed as legal advice. Like, not at all.)
My guess is that the reason they’re offering to fix it in-house is so that you don’t actually contact their insurer. A claim like this — proving that the dealer was allowing employees to drive a car around without actually checking to see if the wheel was properly torqued — would probably result in a serious rate hike or even a cancellation from their insurance provider. So, just like you might do if you hit somebody’s car, they’re offering to settle it privately.
However, you absolutely have the right to file a claim with their insurer, and I’d threaten to do so. Under normal circumstances, in addition to asking for the car to be repaired, I would think that you might have the ability to file a 3rd party diminished value claim with your dealership’s insurance provider. However, since you bought a car for $13k under sticker, you might have a hard time proving that you car’s value was diminished below what you actually paid for it.
So here’s what I’d do. I’d hire a licensed diminished value appraiser in your state, and tell the dealer that you’ll be sending them out to inspect the car. This will probably cost you about $100-200, so you’ll have to decide if you want to hire an appraiser or just threaten to hire an appraiser. The dealer may smell that you mean business at that point and offer you something more than a simple repair of the damage, or you may actually have to go ahead and contact your insurance company and have them begin to file a claim.
Either way, I wouldn’t accept their simple offer to fix it and be done. I’d tell them that they can either fix it and offer you a hefty cash bonus in addition, or that you can ask for the dealer’s insurance company’s information, contact your insurance company, and let them work it out. This also smells like the sort of story that somebody with a lot of eyeballs in the Detroit market, like the Detroit Free Press, might like to run a story about. Hell, you can even send them a link to this story and promise that ol’ Bark will make it rain on them.
And, hey, just remember, you did get a good deal.
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I've been following the TourX for a while... it wasn't quite out when I bought my last car but it would have been a top contender. Dealers near me in Northern Michigan rarely seem to have the in stock. I thought they would do better given that the Subaru Outback seems to be the official car around here. When they do happen to get one, they seem offer them for $8k off without much arguing at all. At one point, they had one parked in front of their dealer with a $10k off decal on the windshield. Seeing that these probably average around $36k MSRP with options, the used examples I've seen don't appear to offer much advantage, price-wise, to buying new with a discount.
Gotta love car dealerships. I don't have any bad tales about buying new but have my share of service department nightmares. I recall one where my dad brought in a vehicle to have the water pump replaced. The mechanic put a wrench into the radiator. They billed my dad and said it was just part of the repair. My dad told the dude at the service counter, "Really!, when I knock all the teeth out of your mouth with my fist and the police show up, I'll just claim it was all the normal part of dealing with service advisers." they paid for the damage.