Illustration for article titled What Happens When The Dealer Wants To Sell You A Damaged New Car?

As a car buyer, you can take all the necessary steps to make sure you are getting a deal you are comfortable with, but that doesn’t always mean things will go smoothly.


We recently got a note from a reader that was willing to drive a long distance and pay full price for a brand new Volkswagen Golf R. The dealer, on the other hand, was not really motivated to have a satisfied customer.

After a botched sale with all paperwork signed and delivered on this exact car from Fairfax VW in VA. Five days before my drive from NY to pick up my next vehicle the GM of Fairfax VW advised that the car was damaged “somehow” and wouldn’t be repaired (Paint was damaged to metal on a small area of drivers side door when taking it out of show room). Car was to be sold as is or I could back out.

Being I was going to lease it, I backed out due to the damage they wouldn’t repair which somehow on a lease I am not sure how that would work on turn in. I continued my search for this exact car nationwide and have been dealing with these dealer added options and non-negotiable marks ups.


It should be noted that the dealer in this particular instance did nothing that would be considered wrong or illegal. With a car that’s a limited edition model like the Golf R, I can only assume the dealer didn’t want to incur the repair cost and figured that some other buyer would come along.

Was this dealer acting like a jerk for not taking the extra step to help a customer? Sure, but they are under no obligation to do so. A dealer can choose to sell a car in their inventory in whatever condition that vehicle is in. It is then up to the customer to decide whether or not it is worth it. For this buyer, it wasn’t.

However, minor damage happens to fairly frequently when cars are in-transit. The vast majority of the time, the dealer eats the cost of repair.

A while back, I helped a family purchase a brand new Ford Explorer. The color they wanted was at another store across town owned by the same dealer. Somehow when the Explorer moved from one dealer to the other, it took some minor damage. There was a scratch on the bumper; it wasn’t bad, but it was enough to be noticed. Rather than risk losing the sale, the Ford dealer fixed the scratch and offered the customers an additional $700 off the already discounted price in addition to a few perks like free oil changes and car washes.


Had the dealer not taken these steps, the customers would have walked and bought from somewhere else. I understand that shopping for an Explorer is a bit easier than shopping for a Golf R, the reality is that buyers aren’t lining up to get Jettas or Passats. In fact, due to Volkswagen’s deceptive practices with Dieselgate, the brand probably has lost some very loyal customers.

Volkswagen has always had a small hardcore following of fans that are willing to put up with some imperfections to own a brand they identify with. You would think a VW dealer would be happy have a serious customer and one that is willing to buy a car at full price—especially since sales haven’t been great in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.


Before you sign the papers, do a good inspection on the car you have your eyes on. Take note of any damage and ask that the dealer make the repairs at no cost to you. Also requests additional discounts or complimentary service items. The dealer may not oblige, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

If the dealer can’t make the repair before you take delivery, make sure you get a repair order in writing and have it signed by a manager.


If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at and be sure to include your Kinja handle.

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