NJ dealers sold rentals, company cars without disclosure, state says

NJ dealers sold rentals, company cars without disclosure, state saysFour New Jersey auto dealerships have agreed to pay the state $175,000 and change their business practices to settle a lawsuit alleging they didn't tell customers about previous damage, or that cars for sale came from rental or business fleets.

The agreement ends a lawsuit brought by the state in 2009 saying the dealerships broke the state's consumer fraud law and motor vehicle advertising rules. The dealerships admit no wrongdoing as part of the terms.

The four dealerships are: Sansone Ford Lincoln Mercury and Sanson Dodge, both in Ocean Township, and Sanson Chevrolet and Sansone's, both in Avenel. The parent companies of the dealerships are Fords National Auto Mart Inc., Sansone Plaza Dodge Inc., Paladin Chevrolet and Sansone Management Corp., respectively.

As part of the settlement, the dealerships agreed to determine if cars they sell and lease once were rentals or company cars and tell customers before they buy. The businesses also agreed to disclose whether the vehicle had been in an accident or damaged, using a car history report like Carfax. They also agreed to change advertising to include that the advertised price doesn't include taxes, registration and licensing. The dealerships list cars for sale through their web site and the eBay and Autoshopper sites. If the dealerships don't follow the agreement during the next year, they face an additional $200,000 fine.

This is not the first time two of the dealerships have come under scrutiny. Sansone Chevrolet and Sansone Dodge agreed to a settlement in 2004 with the state's Division of Consumer Affairs to resolve similar allegations.

In other states, used car companies have also recently faced allegations of shady sales tactics. A marketing company has been accused in Iowa of using deceptive advertising. In New York, two dealerships had to refund cash to customers who didn't know the cars they were buying were previously used as rentals.

Here are some tips and strategies for buying a new or used car.
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