Rust is a very common issue that affects vehicles. It can cause significant problems, and it’s difficult to avoid. Many older cars have at least minor amounts of rust, especially on their undersides. Rust can also grow until it rots out parts like floor plates or quarter panels near a vehicle’s wheels.
When a dealer is trying to move a vehicle that has rust, they may be tempted to simply paint over that rust. This effort may make a car look like it is in better condition than it really is. Does that approach constitute fraud?
It may depend on the extent of the rust
The key question here is whether or not the dealer was actually trying to repair the damage. In some cases, with very small spots of rust, polishing and repainting them can be a viable tactic to fix the vehicle at a body shop. But with larger areas of rust, more extensive repairs are needed. The rust must be removed, some metal parts may need to be replaced entirely or different compounds and solutions can be used to fix them. But mere paint will not be enough to address the concern if the rust is so extensive that it will continue developing over time. Under these circumstances, rust has to actually be removed so that oxidation doesn’t continue.
Intent is also an issue. Did the dealer paint the car specifically to hide these rust spots? Intent is an important part of fraud allegations because it indicates whether an individual was definitively attempting to defraud another.
Inspecting a new vehicle
Rust issues are just one of the reasons why it’s important to take the time to really inspect a vehicle before purchasing it. Look for signs of spot painting that may be covering up hidden issues. Look in areas that are more difficult to paint, such as examining the underside of the vehicle to see evidence of rust that may not be as readily apparent.
But even if you do this, a dealer may attempt to defraud you and misrepresent the condition that the vehicle is in. If you find yourself in this position, that’s when seeking legal guidance may be a good idea.