It wouldn't astonish most of us if we found an automotive sales story turned horror flick from our friends or family if we asked them. Regardless whether they're referring to a small rinky-dink car lot or a megadealer, bad buying experiences are all over the internet. Horrifying tales of negotiations gone bad and vehicles that turned out to be total pieces of garbage are amongst the many reviews of car dealers all around the United States.
Just like any deal, there are those that are so bad they stand out in an already packed room of complaints. Visiting forums like Reddit and reading consumer reviews on websites like Edmunds provides consumers with a great place to begin researching their next set of wheels. Believe it or not, the best place to get information on where, when, and what to buy is from other people just like you, other consumers.
Are you looking for an entertaining listicle about people getting ripped off when buying a car? You're in the right place then! Today, we put together a list of the most offended, salty, bitter, furious customers whom some of us will ever read about again anywhere. So, sit back and relax because some of these stories are going to make you shake your head and think, "I'm happy that story isn't about me!"
20 Routine Maintenance
Here's what happens when the simplest maintenance isn't repaired properly. A Reddit user starts his horror story, saying, "My latest (and really only) bad dealer experience came from scheduled maintenance. I took my car in for a transmission flush and coolant flush. Both were performed and the car ran fine.
I parked the car at home and noticed some coolant under the car the next morning. I figured it may have been some left in the plastic skid plate under the motor, but kept a close watch. This started becoming a regular thing over the next week, so I had the dealer check it out. The dealer looks at it, says it was just some coolant left on the plastic skid plate."
The problem persisted for the customer until he noticed there was no gasket re-installed after the routine maintenance, causing the leak.
19 Mercedes Engine Fire
A former technician tells us his dealer horror story reporting, "I used to be a master tech at a Mercedes-Benz dealer in one of the priciest zip codes in the US. A CL600 with a few thousand miles comes in with a set of leaky valve covers. No big deal, it was a common problem on the V-12's for awhile. We had a lube tech that was being groomed to step his game up to the big leagues."
As you can probably guess the dealer had the Lube Tech attempt the repair. Here's what happened.
"Changing these V-12 valve cover gaskets was one of his first big jobs. Time-consuming, but very straightforward. Unfortunately, it was impossible to do without getting a lot of oil all over the turbos/exhaust manifolds. To look good/save time, this kid was two fisting cans of brake cleaner to get things cleaned. Perfectly OK to do.... on a cold engine that's not running. Unfortunately, those engines make a ton of exhaust heat even at idle while running (for emissions reasons). Next came an engine fire that burned the car to the ground."
18 Bad Gas
Here's a guy who told us about his horror story on jalopnik.com, confessing that after his car had broken down (2013 Ford) for the umpteenth time, the dealership he used for repairs was hardly friendly. Unable to find the problem for his stalling car, they asked him to pick up the vehicle because it might be "bad gasoline." But who was going to pay for that repair? The dealership insisted that it wasn't covered under warranty. That was until the owner/customer with the Ford ST got irritated.
The dealer dropped his gas tank to troubleshoot and replied to the ST owner, insisting, "It’s bad gas with 'lots of water.' I ask to come down and see it and they say nope, they threw out the sample and all the bad gas. They did send a photo but who knows what was in the container. In the end, the dealership charged this customer for the repairs, so he took them to court."
17 A Technician Wrecked His New BMW
It's hard to believe that a dealership service technician can take a customers car off the lot and wreck it, isn't it? This customer on jalopnik.com said, "A BMW tech took my car for the weekend (the same weekend I bought/paid for my car) and crashed it."
The customer claims after having the BMW dealer take a look at a headlight bulb, he returned after the weekend to see what the verdict was. Once he got in his car, he noticed a CD that wasn't his and decided to take a look outside the vehicle as well. That's when he noticed large chunks taken out of his front bumper. Nobody at the repair facility wanted to take responsibility for the problem. No surprise there, right?
16 Brake-Light Issues
Reddit.com users have some of the best dealership horror stories, and this guy's no different when it comes to him and his girlfriend. His story begins with his sweethearts' local dealer saying his "GF's small-town bumpkins Dodge dealership" was incompetent when she needed them for a simple repair.
He adds that she owned "a brand new 2010 Grand Cherokee (at the time) and it was having issues with the brake lights, and of course, every time they took it in, they couldn't find the problem (This was in 2012). After traveling 1,400 miles and needing an oil change, I suggested my local Dodge dealership. What do ya know, they fixed the problem within 10 minutes by replacing the f****** bulb."
15 Look At All This Rust
This horror story is via popularmechanics.com and tells us of a buyer who wanted to make sure he didn't get a truck from the snow belt. He wanted a rust-free truck, but that's not what he got shipped to him.
"I purchased a used truck from a reputable dealership through an online ad. I specifically told the salesman that I did not want a vehicle with corrosion issues, as the truck I had my eye on was from Pennsylvania – a notorious area for winter road salt damage. He sent several photos showing the underside of the vehicle, assuring me there was no rust. The pictures looked good, so I wired the money and had the truck shipped to me. Upon arrival, I found that he must have taken the pictures from a different truck. Every brake and fuel line needed to be replaced, with an anticipated cost of over $4,000!"
14 2 Dealership Horror Stories
A Reddit user chimes in with two stories saying, "A friend of mine took his Honda Ridgeline in for an oil change. Dealership accidentally drained the rear diff and didn't refill it. He called them on the way home, saying it did not sound or drive right. 'No problem, just drive it home and bring it back tomorrow,' they said. Brings it back the next day, rear diff is completely ruined, and they tried to blame the owner for draining it. Took many phone calls and angry letters to Honda North America to get sorted, but eventually was covered."
He added, "I bought a Subaru WRX new; about a week after picking it up, I noticed that the seat could rock back and forth about an inch. Brought it back to the dealer I purchased it from, and the service manager insisted it was normal. 'OK,' I said, 'Have the general manager grab the keys to another new one if it's normal; I want to see another one do it.' He then tried to back peddle, but I wouldn't hear it, went into the sales area, and got the GM myself. Yea, definitely not normal, proceeded to bitch out the service manager in front of the GM and a few customers. I have no sense of humor about safety issues."
13 A Bogus History Report
I've heard of this happening to a buyer before. A report on popularmechanics.com states, "I (the customer) bought a Hyundai Sonata that had no history of accidents from a used-car lot. The car started leaking fluid, so I took it to a dealership for a warranty repair. I was told the windshield fluid reservoir was cracked – and that the front bumper had been replaced, the radiator was damaged, the frame was bent, plus other evidence that the car had been in a crash. What's more, the car had been driven without any coolant, causing it to overheat and damage the engine.
Since all these problems were caused by an accident, the warranty was suddenly void, and I had to pay to fix everything. Take it from me: a 'clean' vehicle history report isn't a substitute for an inspection."
12 What Happened To My Car?
Another Reddit user threw his horror story out there for the rest of us to read when he talked about taking his car in for repairs. The sad part is he had just bought the car, and there shouldn't have been anything wrong with it, to begin with.
He said, "Took a crossfire to the dealership where he just bought it 2 weeks prior. The valve covers were leaking oil. 100 bucks and 5 hours later, it is still leaking oil but now, the clutch is slipping, and the tires seem to be roasted. I think I just paid for them to **** it for a while."
Sounds like this unsatisfied customer could be right. Maybe the techs in the service department did have a little too much fun test driving his car around.
11 Looking For A Job?
This jalopnik.com user has a disturbing story about an individual who was searching for a job at a dealership he worked at. His story starts off, "We had a guy come into our dealership looking for a job; turns out he was just fired from a different dealership that same day. One of our managers recognizes the guy and, just that morning, we had heard how he hid a camera in the women’s bathroom and had it live streaming to his laptop which he kept at his desk. Obviously, the guy was never hired, and sure enough, he was arrested." You never know what kind of creeps are going to be around on the streets, right? This time, it happened at work for this guy.
10 She Sold Hers For Scrap
Here's a woman that got taken at an auto dealer when she bought a car that wasn't even safe to drive around town. She told her story on popularmechanics.com.
"This lemon put my life at risk. As crazy as it sounds, the first and only problem I had with it was the airbags going off without warning while I was driving down the freeway. I'd bought the car with full assurance from a used-car dealership, and they were completely unhelpful despite the dangerous situation it put me in. A history of the model showed that there were several recalls on it for electrical problems, but I was still unable to get my money back. I sold the car for scrap as soon as I could. There was no way I was getting back into that death trap."
9 A Car Salesman
There isn't a more eerie story on the list today than right here. This one's about 2 guys who stopped at a local dealer to admire a used Mustang. One of the gentlemen had just returned from active duty and was lusting after a cool set of wheels. Looking at a sweet car wound up being an awkward situation when the two men deemed the salesman that night was an oddball. He sure was a weirdo; you could even say nuts.
One of the men reflects saying, "I should have listened to my brother. A few weeks later, I’m reading the local paper, and I come across a most interesting article. The salesman, John McElhinney, went home that Friday and kidnapped and murdered an 18-year-old who owed him a few hundred bucks."
8 Hail Damaged Truck
Hail sales happen at dealers who have storm-damaged vehicles. Apparently, some of those vehicles slip through the cracks and are sold with a clean title. This customer's horror story begins when he "purchased a Ford F-150 demo vehicle from a dealership after negotiating with management for four hours. It’s too bad that he didn’t spend that time analyzing the truck. After knocking down a deal that made him happy, he drove away without having the dealer wash or detail the truck. The salesman claimed that there was no time to do it. Now that’s a whopper of a lie! The next day, the new owner began washing the truck, only to find extensive hail damage. We all know where this tale of woe is going. The dealership’s management pretended they knew nothing about the damage and then began to ignore his calls."
7 Let's See Some Cash!
Ever heard the story about a con man pretending to work at a car dealer? Not your typical employees but a real, modern-day thief? Carbuylabs.com has a good horror story for you.
"A young guy went to a local dealership to buy a pre-owned white Pontiac Grand Am turbo. One of the sales reps asked for $700 in cash to show the finance manager that he was serious. After waiting a few minutes that turned into 30, he begins to search for the sales rep. Who would think that someone could be that audacious? The so-called sales rep was really a thief pretending to work at the dealership. He stole one of their trucks and took the kid’s money. Nice way to end the story: the dealership did give the kid his money back."
6 Ouch From Audi
German cars are notoriously expensive to maintain. Popular Mechanics published a story about an Audi owner who wasn't happy after his purchase.
"I bought an Audi A4 with a clean title from a used-car dealership. Everything worked fine for a few weeks, but one day, the check-engine light came on, so I took it to an Audi garage to check it out. Turns out the piston rings had failed, which is apparently a common issue, so Audi said they would replace the rings and other faulty engine parts."
He added, "When they tore apart the engine, they discovered that it was from a different year and had yellow junkyard marks on it. Since the engine wasn't original, Audi changed their minds, and I had to sell the car for a loss–it was still down on power and burning oil when I sold it."
5 Switching The Vin#
Switching the Vin# on a vehicle so that it displays a good CarFax report is unethical. That's what happened at one Dallas, Texas dealer, according to Carbuyinglabs.com,
"A car shopper purchased a pre-owned Chevy Blazer with nearly 30,000 miles from a used-car dealership. Even the Carfax report gave it a perfect rating. But that’s when the problems began. She couldn’t drive the truck home because it overheated and the water pump wouldn’t work. When she told the dealership’s general manager that she wanted her money back as stated in the three-day, no questions asked money-back policy, he denied her request. Instead, he promised to fix everything on the car and even threw in a free rental car. After trying to repair the driver’s door, running lights, overheated engine, radiator, hoses, and heater, the buyer had had enough; she filed a claim with the state and the used-car dealership is providing her with an entire refund, including taxes and fees. She’s still trying to learn how the dealer switched the VIN so that even the Carfax report did not correctly list all of the problems with the car."
4 Where's My Car?
This Reddit.com user's story is horrible–that's for sure. He recalls a dealership that lost his car. Well, presumably.
"They lost my car during an appraisal for over 3 hours. I think they thought I was going to buy, but they tried to tell me the sale was over on my vehicle and were trying to negotiate down from that price. I told them never mind and that I was leaving—no more negotiating because I am not doing business with liars. I asked for my car, and they said they were appraising it and would have it ready for me. After 20 minutes, I started getting mad. The manager was hiding from me, and the sale's guy just laughed and said there was nothing he could do. I actually called the cops after 2 hours but had gotten my car back before they showed up."
3 Misleading Ads
Don't trust car-dealer ads. Always read between the lines like this customer did.
"A car shopper was looking for a nice pre-owned vehicle on Craigslist. Little did he know that some used-car dealerships actually list their cars as a private party so they don’t have to offer a dealer warranty. But when he saw an ad for a pre-owned Toyota being described as mint and then compared the photos, he was dumbstruck. He could swear that he saw dents on the front driver’s side tire and the back rear bumper. When he actually spoke to the Craigslist advertiser, he learned that he was a used-car dealer, not a private seller. The dealer, though, had no problem with the dents and didn’t deny that they were there. He didn’t even have a problem with listing the car as 'mint' even though it obviously wasn’t. Feeling misled, this consumer took his wallet elsewhere."
2 Screaming Salesman
Not many of us would stand for anyone getting in our face and screaming at us, especially if we were buying a car! It happened to this guy, though, who was looking to purchase a Buick and posted about his experience on jalopnik.com.
"I took a test drive in a Buick while they took my car to appraise it. Tried to make a deal. It was dark and raining by then. I asked to put the car in a service bay so I could see it—no. 'You can see it right there' (in the dark). I said I am not going to buy a car in the dark so I’d come back when I could inspect the car. They pushed. I said, 'If it’s a good deal tonight it’ll be a good deal tomorrow morning.' Salesman grabbed my lapels, pulled me forward, and screamed (3 inches from my face with spit flying) that I was a fool if I didn’t buy this car right then!"
1 A Bright-Red Pickup
Here's a dealer horror story for the ages about a pregnant woman looking to purchase a new car for her growing family. Only, this time, the salesperson didn't quite understand or want to understand her needs. This is a good way to finish off this list of stories about people who were ripped off at a car dealership—sure has been an eye-opener.
"When I was pregnant, we went car-shopping for a station wagon. A quite-young car salesman came over, listened (or so I thought) to our needs (I was visibly pregnant), and proceeded to tell us he knew EXACTLY what we needed. He showed us a small bright-red pickup. We left."
Sources: jalopnik.com, reddit.com, popularmechanics.com, carbuyerlabs.com