Couple shocked dealer didn't disclose damage to 'new' car

A Winnipeg couple discovers the Honda they bought as 'new' in 2008 had been in a collision before they bought it from a dealership.

Dealership manager says it was a demonstrator model

Josephine and Bob Mots bought a 'new' Honda Accord at Winnipeg Honda in 2008 and discovered this year that the vehicle had been in an accident before they bought it. (CBC)

Winnipeg couple Josephine and Bob Mots had been driving around with a secret hidden in their car for the past seven years — something they say they knew nothing about.

They bought a new Honda Accord at Winnipeg Honda on Waverley Street in 2008. When they decided earlier this year it was time to sell it and buy a new car, they were finally let in on the secret: their car had been in a collision before they bought it.

The discovery came when a different dealership ran a vehicle history report on the Honda because the Mots were contemplating trading it in.

The CarProof history report showed insurance records of a collision with wildlife on June 25, 2007, causing damage to the left front side of the vehicle.

"It was a shock," said Josephine Mots. "We thought we were buying a new vehicle, which to me means it was not in any kind of accident."

The Mots say the dealership where they were going to trade the car — Murray Hyundai — then offered a reduced trade-in value because of the damage report.

Although the Mots said they didn't have any problems with their car over the years, they are upset the Honda dealership didn't tell them about the collision before their purchase.

Winnipeg Honda general manager Dave Zulak told CBC News the amount of damage the Mots's vehicle had incurred years ago was "extremely minor" and consisted of repairs to the windshield and the driver's side mirror.

He estimated the damage at about $340 and said there were no structural or safety problems.

The Honda dealership offered to compensate the Mots with a $200 service credit as well as provide a written statement about damage. 

Zulak said when the Mots weren't satisfied with that, he changed the offer to a cheque for $200 to spend as they choose. He said the dealership also offered to buy the vehicle from the Mots.

"We don't want them thinking that something was done maliciously, and so we've tried to make some resolution with them and tried to help them with a few things, but everything we've offered has been rejected, unfortunately," said Zulak.

Zulak pointed out that the Mots were informed the vehicle had 2,200 kilometres on the odometer when they bought the 2007 model in March 2008.

'They bought a demonstrator model'

"They bought a demonstrator model. It wasn't a brand-new car; it was actually a demonstrator model," Zulak said.

But that's not what it says on the Mots's sales contract.

"All the paperwork in all spots where it says 'new, used, or demo', it is marked 'new.' So if we were buying a demo, why wasn't it marked 'demo' and why didn't we get a discount for a demo?" said Bob Mots.

The sales contract shows a price of just under $27,000. With tax and financing costs the Mots paid more than $30,000.

Zulak said so much time has passed since the vehicle was sold that he doesn't know who drove it at the dealership or how the damage happened to the car.

Collision report questioned

"We're not sure that there was a wildlife collision," said Zulak.

"It doesn't sound like there actually was wildlife involvement based on the amount of damage.… But we can't say for sure because it's been so long ago."

Yet the CarProof report, as well as MPI records obtained by the Mots and another vehicle history report by Carfax, all say the vehicle had a collision. The Carfax report describes it as a collision with an animal.

Zulak said vehicle history reports have been known to be wrong sometimes. He attributed the damage to the common occurrence of new vehicles being damaged on dealership lots.

"It's unfortunate because it's a cost to us to do business. It does cost us a lot of money every month with what we call 'lot damage'", said Zulak, who was sales manager at Winnipeg Honda when the Mots bought their car.

MPI refused to tell the Mots who filed the collision report with the insurer.

The records say no dollar estimate of damage was done.

MPI said that in 2014 there were 664 claims on dealer-plated vehicles, with 25 of them being for wildlife damage.

The Mots complained to the Better Business Bureau, which found Winnipeg Honda had tried in good faith to resolve the dispute but no agreement has been reached, so the BBB closed the file.

"People need to be more diligent in asking for a CarProof report before they assume that there's not been an accident on a new vehicle," said Josephine Mots.

The Manitoba government brought in regulations in 2012 requiring auto dealers to tell buyers about any damage to a vehicle above $3,000.

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