SALEM – Complaints against car dealers are up in Oregon, heading to a five-year high.
When the Department of Motor Vehicles gets car complaints, they send them to the dealers who go them and most get worked out between the buyer and seller.
But when that doesn’t happen, they get sent to the Department of Justice.
That was the case with Jenifer Palmquist’s new, used car, which she said turned out to be junk.
"We took it back the very next day to the same place and told them what the mechanic said and they laughed at us," she told KGW.
Palmquist said her mechanic discovered that the 2003 Chevy Cavalier that she had purchased had previously been in a major wreck, which severed the power steering line.
“He told me I was lucky it hadn't caught fire yet," Palmquist said.
Walt Dahlm said he bought a 2003 Honda CRV from the same car lot and “It was everything but safe,” Dahlm said.
Like Palmquist, Dahlms said the salesman told him the car had never been in an accident.
“He said, no it hadn't been wrecked. Five months later I get a thing from West Coast Auto Sales stating it had been wrecked," Dahlm said.
Both Dahlm and Palmquist also accused the salesman at West Coast Auto and Truck Source of lying about the actual miles on the vehicles they purchased.
"So that's about as misleading as you can get," said Ed Sinclair, Palmquist’s father.
Sinclair helped his daughter buy the Chevy from the salesman. He even got a note in writing that said the car had 70,000 miles on it and the salesman signed it.
"He kept saying, ‘well if you don't buy this, I'm buying it for my wife because I can't believe it only has 70,000 miles,” Sinclair said.
A closer look at the purchase order revealed a “1” in front of the 70,000 miles. But Sinclair said they didn’t get that purchase order until after the deal was done.
"It's just wrong. You just don't do that. You don't tell somebody an out and out lie and it's got over twice as many miles as they claim it's just not right," Sinclair said.
After getting an “F” by the Better Business Bureau, West Coast Auto and Truck Source pulled its own license and closed down its sales lot on SE 82nd Avenue in Portland.
That left customers like Palmquist and Dahlm with nowhere to go to return the car or get a refund.
Federal law states that used cars must have a Buyers Guide posted on the window which clearly states it will be sold “As Is” with no warranty.
(KGW consumer reporter Ed Teachout contributed to this report.)