A Used Car Horror Story


I bought a certified pre-owned vehicle on Wednesday. On the way home, the oil light came on/beeped on the dash panel. For the next several days it continued to come on periodically. On Saturday, three days after buying the car, I took it back to the dealer and was told that the water pump was broken and needed to be replaced. Does this seem like the time to try to get out of this deal? My fear is that this is a sign of more problems to come. P.S. The car is a 1999 Passat with 35900 miles on it.

Austin: Although I haven’t inspected this car myself, my gut says to read your contract and determine if you can get out of it (now!) That is low mileage to have a broken water pump, and I really don’t feel comfortable about that being the source of the oil light coming on. I am not a lawyer, and really don’t have the experience to give you legal advice. I can however tell you the deal sounds very fishy… OK, it stinks! If the dealer is willing to replace the pump at no cost to you, and you really like this car …OK I guess. If not then I would look very hard at trying to get out of this agreement.

If you bought the car AS IS, you might be stuck with it. Does it have a clear title (meaning it doesn’t have a lien against it, hasn’t been totaled in an accident or flooded)? My gut also tells me there is probably something the dealer is not telling you??? I would ask to speak to the manager and have a nice sit down talk with him, explaining how you are gun shy about this car now, and you are giving serious thought to legal action. You can do this in a NICE way and still get the same point across.

Keep me posted..let me know if I can help.

Reader: Thank you so much for getting back to me. Just to update you… The salesman got back to me today, after I’d left him a message letting him know that I was unhappy with my purchase. He said that the problem is fixed, and that it was a false reading indicating low “oil” pressure. (My mistake it was not the water pump.) He went on to say that they have replaced the oil pump, which he assures me will take care of the problem. Although he said the oil pump was fine, just a dirty filter could have caused the false reading. I sure hope this works. He also assured me that I can call if anything major happens in the future. He said that the oil pump is “not a major engine problem.” So, I will be picking up my car tonight, hopefully with no new problems ahead. Thank you again.

Austin: I’ve got my fingers crossed. The story is getting worse, not better. You very RARELY have to replace the oil pump on any car, let alone one with supposedly low mileage. You might (just for added insurance) call another dealer, talk to their service department, and see what they say about replacing the oil pump–and if it should be replaced at this low of mileage. Might be better to do some homework now, just in case you need to state your case to this dealer again, you will have the opinion of another car dealer.

Austin Davis, The Honest Mechanic

Austin Davis,
The honest Mechanic

Posted in: Converted

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."