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11 years ago

Simon Jolley, Hunua, South Auckland

Issue: Repossessed

Simon was interested in purchasing a Ute. Through a personal contact he found a Ute he liked that was being sold for a good price. He asked the seller if the Ute had any money owing on it and after being told the finance loan on it had been paid off, he entered into a verbal agreement to buy the vehicle.

As it turned out the loan hadn't been repaid and it wasn't long until the finance company sent someone to repossess the Ute. By that time, the person who Simon had purchased the Ute from was long gone.

Unfortunately for Simon the Ute was repossessed, along with some personal belongings that were in the vehicle. He was left with no Ute and no way of getting his money back.

Simon wants to prevent other car buyers from making the same costly mistake and says anyone buying a vehicle, particularly in a private deal should always get a VIR® to make sure it doesn't come with a nasty hidden cost.

Wayne Smith, Tauranga

Issue: Repossessed

After changing his job and getting a smaller company vehicle, Wayne wanted a cheap 4x4 to tow his boat. A friend of a friend was selling one so Wayne decided to buy it without checking the vehicles history.

One day, when Wayne was out of town, his partner received a visit from a repossession agency who took the car because there was $1,500 owing on it and payments were not being made. Despite having already paid $3,500 for the vehicle, he also had to pay the outstanding debt to get the car back.

Luckily for Wayne he was able to track down the previous owner and over a period of time was refunded his money. Since then he has never purchased a vehicle without getting a V.I.R.

Pamela Lang, Tauranga

Issue: Repossessed

Pam's teenage son had been saving really hard to buy his first vehicle. He had seen a car he liked and with Mum's help set about checking if it was a suitable purchase.

They decided to check the vehicles history and had seen a service offered by another provider where you could text the rego number to get this information. When the rego number came back clear, with no money owing, Pam's son was soon sitting proudly behind the wheel of his first car.

As it turns out the information received on the vehicle was incorrect and the car was repossessed about three months later. The previous owner, the one before the person they purchased the vehicle from, had a loan on the car and had failed to continue the payments.

They took the person they purchased the car from to small claims court for selling a car that was not legally theirs to sell. While they got their money back, the person they bought the car from, a young teenage boy, was left with the debt from the previous owner.

Since then, Pam has always used MotorWeb when purchasing a second hand vehicle so that she can cross reference the description of the car with the registration number.

Stuart, Pukekohe

Issue: Repossessed

When Stuart's good friend asked him to help her purchase a car he didn't hesitate. She was a working solo-mum who had saved $4,500 to upgrade her vehicle.

They spent time on TradeMe looking at vehicles until they found the right one. They contacted the owners and found out they were moving overseas in a week's time hence the reason they needed to sell their car.

Despite the fact they were moving overseas, alarm bells didn't ring for Stuart. They had met with the owners - who were a nice, semi-professional couple and their car was well maintained. The WOF was due to expire and the owners even agreed to get a new one before handing it over.

Four months after helping purchase the car, Stuart received a distressed call from his friend saying a repossession agency was there to collect the car. After a call to his lawyer Stuart sadly had to tell his friend there was nothing they could do, unless they were willing to pay off the finance owing. The car was taken away to an auction house for sale.

Stuart felt terrible so he ended up buying the car back at auction for his friend. He tracked down the previous owners who promised to pay the amount back in instalments, Stuart received the first payment of $500 and then the owners disappeared and Stuart was left out of pocket.

Stuart has since helped his two children purchase vehicles but this time ensuring he got a V.I.R from MotorWeb before any money changed hands.

Regan, Southland

Issue: Damaged on Import

Regan inherited a car from his parents - an imported vehicle which they were unaware was damaged.

When Regan took over ownership of the car he knew the car wore through tyres quickly and required wheel alignments on a regular basis. It wasn't until Regan was getting a wheel alignment done that the serviceman said the car had been in a significant crash and that one wheel was sitting further back than the other.

While the car was not dangerous to drive, the issue with the wheel was the reason it continually needed new tyres and required regular wheel alignments - leaving Regan with an ongoing and unnecessary expense.

Darryn Bennett, Christchurch

Issue: Damaged on import

Darryn purchased a car from a private seller. It was a recent Japanese import which the owner had had for four months and was selling because he was moving overseas. Darryn arranged a pre-purchase inspection and proceeded with the purchase when it was given the all clear.

It wasn't until Darryn took the vehicle for a WOF a year later that the car failed due to major rust in the chassis.

Despite the car passing all the rights checks on entry to the country the chassis had been painted black to cover major water damage. Darryn had to spend $3,500 to have the rust cut out of the vehicle.

He later sold the car on Trade Me as a damaged vehicle and it was picked up by someone who used it for motorsport.

Robert, Wanganui

Issue: Repossessed

Robert had seen a car on Trade Me that he liked. While he didn't bid on the vehicle he followed up the seller after the car didn't sell and arranged a viewing. The car was a good buy and good value for money so after the seller confirmed the car was 'freehold' he proceeded with the purchase without any background checks. Nine months later the repossession agency came to collect the car because the previous owner had failed to meet his finance obligations. Unfortunately for Robert there was nothing he could do unless he bought the car back at auction.

Robert decided to let the vehicle go and set about looking for another vehicle to buy. Not looking to make the same mistake twice, Robert got a V.I.R which showed there was money owing on a vehicle he was interested in. Robert arranged for part of the purchase price to be paid directly to the finance company to clear the debt, with the balance paid to the owner.

Kelly-Ann Harvey-Vernon, Auckland

Issue: Damaged on import

Kelly-Ann spent months looking for a suitable car to purchase after her 4WD was stolen. She finally found the perfect vehicle - a white Nissan Terrano that was being sold through a dealer and had recently been traded. Because the car was a trade-in the dealer required that Kelly-Ann sign a waiver in case anything went wrong with it. She agreed as the vehicle had received a warrant 3 months earlier so she figured it should be safe and sound.

Only two months later an inspection discovered so much structural rust in the car it shouldn't have received a warrant and the vehicle needed to be taken off the road immediately, leaving her without a car and out-of-pocket.

Trina, Cambridge

Issue: Repossessed

Trina's husband bought an old valiant from a friend - it was his pride and joy!

Two months after owning the car, and just after filling it up with petrol, they arrived home to find a large man with a truck. They were told there was money owing on the car and it was being repossessed because the previous owner, a supposed friend, had failed to make the required payments.

Trina and her husband were devastated and the car was taken away to Turners' auction house. After many phone calls and effort the previous owner repaid the loan so Trina and her husband went to Turners to collect the car. Unfortunately the whole experience ruined their love of the car and they sold it shortly afterwards.

Since then Trina and her husband have always made sure they get a V.I.R on a vehicle to check if there's money owing.

Rachel Filipov, Burnside, Christchurch

Issue: Repossessed

At the start of 2009, Rachel bought a second hand car off Trade Me for her 76 year old Grandmother. The car was perfect for Rachel's Grandmother to get about, the lady selling it seemed legitimate and Rachel thought it was a good buy for the $1,500 asking price.

On 1 December 2010, almost two years later, a repossession agent came to take the car away, telling Rachel's Grandmother there was money owing on the vehicle.

Confused and distressed, Rachel's Grandmother called Rachel. As it turns out the previous owner had a debt secured against the vehicle and had failed to meet the repayments.

Rachel asked the repossession agent to wait until she got there before taking the car away. She then called the Police and went round to her Grandmother's to try and sort the situation out. Fortunately, the Police officer wouldn't let the repossession agent take the car because of insufficient paper work and he told him he'd need to get a court order if he wanted to take the car away.

That gave Rachel enough time to get a V.I.R on the vehicle and call the finance company to sort out the issue. The finance company told Rachel there was $5,000 secured against the $1,500 vehicle but after some discussions they agreed to a payment of $500 to release the security.

Rachel's Grandmother got to keep the car but 4 weeks before Christmas Rachel has been left out of pocket. Next time she'll make sure she gets a V.I.R on a vehicle before any money changes hands.

Ra & Jacky, Auckland

Issue: Repossessed

We were interested in buying a Subaru Imprezza on Trade me. We won the auction and the seller wanted the car collected urgently. I had already asked if there was money owing on it. I thought it seemed a bit suspect so we did a VIR® report on it and it came back with money owing to a finance company in Dunedin. I phoned them to double check. They said the owner still owed them money. They had got a loan on the vehicle two years earlier and had not paid it off yet. I advised the seller, he didn't believe me. He said he wanted to see the report as he thought we were trying to reneg on the deal. I told him to pay for half of the VIR® Report, he declined. I told him no deal.

He wanted me to refund him his auction fees and got Trade me to try and get the fees off me. Trade me refunded his fees. He blacklisted me on his auctions, which was ok.

The VIR® saved us $2000 and prevented a lot of hassle!

Ivan, Wellington

Issue: Various

It was 2005 and I was due to come home from a tour in Afghanistan in one month so I started to look for a car to buy on my return. I found a 2002 Holden Vectra station wagon that had relatively low kms and was a good price but had been in a smash.

The seller said he had a quote to get the repairs done for less than $1,000 but he just didn't have the money so it all checked out alright. I was a little far out of town to go for a look so I asked my brother to check it out and he recommended a VIR® so we got that done only to find it had a security interest so we thought we were pretty lucky to spot that. We mentioned this to the seller and he said he'd paid it all off and had the receipts to prove it so we went ahead. The guy brought the car around to my brother's house showed him the receipts seemed like an honest bloke and even stayed for a coffee with his girlfriend so everything appeared to smell like roses. I bought the car for $5,500 thinking with $1,000 of panel work I was still getting the car for about $4,000 less than they were selling for so we went ahead.

Immediately after my brother got the car I asked him to get the panel work done so it was all ready when I got home and here's where it gets interesting. The damage to the car was the front bumper, 1/4 panel and bit of a ripple in the roof and a dent in the driver's door/boot (he'd slid into a bank). The quote for the repairs came through at $9,000! Thinking someone was having a laugh we went to a different panel beater only to get a similar result. Buggar! I wasn't keen on paying that much so I got the bumper, 1/4 panel and driver's door done and left it at that (still $5,000 worth). At that stage I thought I was still doing alright but certainly learnt a lesson about modern panel work (no one does it, they just replace panels).

On my return I did a full service on it myself and it was plainly obvious it had never been done before as the oil had built to a thick sludge in several places in the engine but hey, no harm done as it was still running well and I'm a mechanic so it didn't cost me anything to clean it up. Considering the car was still relatively new it had a 12 month warrant. When I took it for its first warrant it failed because the ripple in the roof was structural so I had to get it fixed otherwise the car was worthless! $2,000 later the roof was done so I was only left with a dent in the boot which is still there to this day. The car had now cost me $12,500.

I'm not sure how long after this happened but it wasn't too long later when I was at home and got a knock on the door: it was the repo man! He was a nice bloke and I explained there must be some kind of mistake and showed him the receipts showing the car had been paid off by the previous owner. He explained that he had to take the car but it just looked like an administration error and to get hold of the finance company. I wasn't concerned; after all I had the receipts showing a nil balance owing. I rang the finance company and they said "Oh no son, he still owes $12,000!' I forwarded them the receipts, on their letter head, and they were well impressed with the quality of the forgery but assured me the balance was still outstanding and they were keeping the car. They did say I would have first dibs on the car and they'd sell it to me at what Turners valued it at which turned out to be $3,000. After much deliberation I decided that I had to forget what I'd done to the car and start fresh and I wasn't going to be able to get anything better so I paid the $3,000. My cheap car had now cost me $15,500!

Here's what I learnt:

  • Always ring the Finance Company to double check payment.
  • If work needs to be done make sure you sight a written quote rather than take someone's word for it.
  • Panel work on modern cars is bloody expensive!
  • Make sure the car has a new warrant when you buy it.
  • If it looks too good to be true it probably is.
  • Avoid getting family involved, my brother felt really bad for his part in the story even though I wouldn't have done anything different if I was in the country.

In case you are wondering, I made some enquiries of mine own through some very valuable sources and the friendly vendor jumped the ditch to Australia within a week of selling the car.

Tim Reynolds, Waihi

Issue: Mechanical

It all started when I bought a Rav4.

I was told by a mechanic that they were reliable and bulletproof and that I could run the thing another 100,000km before trading it in for something newer. It had already done 172,000km but I got a VIR® and it came through clean as a whistle.

So I made the two and a half hour trip up to Auckland to pick it up. When I got there the guy who was selling it looked fairly 'upper-class' and I thought he would have looked after it. Turns out he only serviced it like every 75,000 so it was on its last rims when it got to me. Two months in I had to pay for a complete brake overhaul and a very expensive service as so many parts were needed. That was ok; I thought I might have to pay a little to get it running the way I wanted it to. Then it started over-heating, like I would go 5km and would need to stop because the temp was up way high. So I got the radiator checked and it was buggered; working at 30% of what it should be.

The radiator guys said I'd need to get the engine out and it would cost me $1200. Also that I'd have to get a new radiator: another $600. Then my mechanic said he'd also have to replace the clutch as it was wearing fairly low and had trouble getting into reverse. Selecting reverse was a complicated procedure of changing in to neutral taking the handbrake off and rocking the car backward and forwards for a minute or two. Sometimes I really had to dry hump the steering wheel to get it to change, must have looked rather odd, in the car by myself thrusting away... The mechanic also said he may as well do the cam belt: another $500.

So in all for a $3400 15 year old Rav 4 I've had to pay $5700 in total. I'm now officially broke!

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