FOX 8 Defenders: Car dealer offers to buy back used, moldy SUV

FOX 8 Defenders: Car dealer offers to buy back used, moldy SUV

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Brandon Coleman's family of four is about to get bigger. His wife is expecting their third child this summer. That's why they bought a 2008 GMC Acadia from Lakeside Toyota in Metairie.

A week after they purchased the used vehicle, Coleman said he started hearing a loud noise coming from his dashboard area.

"Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock. Just knocking constantly, like constantly banging," he said.

Even more disturbing though was what he discovered in the trunk.

"It's soaking wet back there," Coleman explained.

He squeezed water out of the carpet in the trunk area. From a distance, it appeared the trunk area of the SUV was covered in dirt, but as we got closer, Coleman pointed out patches of fuzzy black and white mold.

"My kids, they sit in the back. I mean what am I supposed to do?" Coleman asked.

That's not all. I lifted the carpeting in other areas of the car and found the metal seat rails covered with rust.

"They (car dealer) started saying there's nothing we can do. We'll offer you a free detail," Coleman said.

When he couldn't get more action at the dealership, Coleman turned to the FOX 8 Defenders.

According to the couple's paperwork, they signed a disclosure that listed recommended repairs not included in the price. The disclosure goes on to say the "buyer understands that the vehicle is an older, high mileage vehicle that is being sold at a substantial discount."

On the state OMV water damage disclosure form, the dealership checked off the line saying the "vehicle did not sustain water damage to the power train, computer or electrical system as a result of the August 2016 flooding."

So why's Brandon Coleman's trunk so wet and moldy?  We went straight to an auto repair shop owner for another opinion.

"It shouldn't do that. That's nasty. That should never be there," shop owner Emile Virgadamo explained after seeing the mold, rust and soaking wet carpet.

While Virgadamo did not see any signs of water damage to the front end of the vehicle, he told us something isn't right in the back of the SUV.

"It could be from a hard rain. It could've been in a flood, and it was backed in. Could have been in a driveway where only this (back end) got wet," Virgadamo said.

The FOX 8 Defenders researched the vehicle history report and found in 2015, the SUV's previous owner was involved in a rear-end collision and minor rear damage was reported. Still, it's hard to tell where the water's getting in to the vehicle.

"You'd have to take all the panels off and hose it," Virgadamo said.

The dealership declined our request for an on-camera interview. While the used car manager did not have information on the mold or water, Lakeside Toyota's Customer Service manager did offer up a few options for Brandon Coleman, which included taking the car back and refunding Coleman the $7,000 he paid for it.

"Anybody that buys a used vehicle gotta be wary," he said.

Coleman learned an important lesson after his purchase.

If you're in the market for a used vehicle, experts at Carfax suggests you take the following steps first: 
-Get a mechanic to inspect the vehicle thoroughly
-Research the vehicle's history, all you need is a license plate or VIN number
-Check the head and tail lights for moisture
-Focus on the vehicle's interior, check the metal seat rails and the nuts and bolts 
-Check under the carpet mats, look for stains
-Look for rust or standing water in the spare tire

The FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women also field consumer complaints at 1-877-670-6397 or you can fill out an online complaint form.

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