Salvage Surprise: Used Car Totaled, Damage Not On Title

A couple bought a used car they later learned wasn't safe. It had been totaled and then repaired, but the title didn't say that.

“This piece here has been cut out,” says Jim Wiater. For $2,200, the Evers bought worry on wheels. “I don't think it’s safe,” says body man Wiater, who examined the 2000 Taurus last year when it had been totaled by insurance, then towed away. He was shocked to see it again patched up. “I think it should have been sold for parts only.”

The title has no mention of salvage. The Evers found the car had been totaled through CARFAX. “If a car is totaled it shouldn't be fixed,” says Tim Evers. “It should never go back on the road.”

The Evers bought the car from Globe Motor Sports. “Would I give them their money back for what, the car?” says seller Jodie Okoie. “No, I would fix the situation and find whoever made this mistake and messed with the title will give them their money back. I'm not going to lose money over something I had nothing to do with.”

Investigators will look for the source of the washed title, but it won't be easy. The Evers are asking why didn't the car dealer run a CARFAX that shows the vehicle had been declared a total loss. Nebraska doesn't have a law requiring damage disclosure.

“You could have 10 people coming back to me once a week, CARFAX says this and this said that, I want my money back, that's not how it works,” says Okoie.

The Evers regret not paying for a car history report. “There are many people out there who can't afford to purchase a late model vehicle that the law needs to protect,” says Marie Evers.

After investing $2,200 in a car worth a few hundred dollars, Tim will drive it home, but not beyond if Marie has her way. “I won't ride in it and I won't put my grandchildren in that vehicle.”

Here's what you need to know about Nebraska's salvage law. Vehicles over six years old and valued at less than $10,500 can be totaled out by insurance but a salvage title is not required. Dealers or sellers do not have to provide a CARFAX report or disclose any damage.

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