Dealer smashes my Tercel on test drive

timo43timo43 Member Posts: 23
edited March 2014 in Toyota
Had my wife take the car into the dealer for a 60,000 kilometer service. Mess from the start in that the dealer has a couple operations in Vancouver, and booked the service at the wrong one, so she had to wait four hours instead of one. Then, after the simple service, they took it for a test drive and had an accident. Okay, that can happen-- I understand. But she phones me (we live about two hours away) and says there is considerable damage. The manager says not very bad. He wants her to take the car home, have the repairs done here on our insurance (!), and, in short, deal with this headache ourselves. To me, taking it to the dealer (big operation and pricey) means if something like this happens they should do whatever to make it a relatively trouble free situation for the customer. But no. Some serious arm twisting before getting a loaner (and the manager had said they had no loaners on the lot-- turns out they had two!). Now it has been over a week, so my guess is the wife's evaluation of the damage (ie, considerable) is closer to the truth than the service departments claim of minor. Now too I am thinking two things: one, in my experience a car that gets a good whack is often never quite the same; two, if the damage is over one thousand dollars which seems likely, this goes on the Provincial records, and effects the resale price, should we sell it. Not happy, but not sure what to do in this situation. Any ideas, or words from anyone who has dealt with this type of situation would be greatly appreciated.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Attorney, immmediately.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    There's the damage, loss of use, value hit because of the damage, etc.

    In the meantime, they need to put you in a rental and repair your car - after you contact YOUR insurance company to have someone else on your side.
  • runpantherrunpanther Member Posts: 44
    Why should timo43 involve his insurance company? His rates will now go up - - after all - he did NOTHING wrong. This dealer is trying to scam him big. A little advice to Timo . . . demand retribution from the dealer and if you don't get it then the next contact you make with that dealer will be by your attorney.

    Good Luck
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    no need for an alarmist attitude - that notification is to show who was at fault in the accident and to make sure that his insurance company, in no way, is involved - just a courtesy measure.

    My old insurance company, Farmer's Group, ran an annual CARFAX report and a DMV printout on each car and driver on each policy. They adjusted your rates accordingly. If the insurance company knows the facts about the accident, there's no issue...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think it would be very wise to pay to have an attorney write out a letter with your demands for satisfaction without threat or aggression. Just state what you need to have it "made right" and choose reasonable terms. That puts all the cards on the table. A great way to negotiate is to tell someone exactly what you are going to do, and then do it.
  • timo43timo43 Member Posts: 23
    Thank you all so much for your quick, thoughtful advice. I so very much appreciate that, and you have helped to start clarifying the situation for me.
    Never having had experience in this type of situation (thank goodness!), I do wonder what would be fair as far as making this 'right'. That may seem like a silly question, but I really do not know. Would a lawyer be able to make suggestions in this regard? Or should I know before I go to the lawyer?
    It is a 1999 Tercel four door that had run perfectly and never been involved in any accident, and has been well looked after.
    We have already suffered some inconvenience and it looks like more is on the way. First, that unpleasant unwillingness on the manager's part to provide a loaner (they did, but only after a lot of hassle), second, it occurred to us just as we were setting out on a short Spring school break holiday that only my wife could drive, since she had signed the papers for the loaner-- that was not good. Third, when I phoned to check on the status of the damaged car, again the manager was unpleasant, and pretty much snarled that he would get in touch with us when it was fixed, and it might be a month (!). Last, as I mentioned, if it is over a thousand (Canadian) dollars, which I am guessing it will be, then this goes on the record, and will very much effect resale, should we sell it.

    If it goes over a thousand (the repairs) one possibility may be that the dealership exchanges it for a used car of the same year. But that does not seem like a very good solution, since that car may not have been well looked after, or driven with the care with which we drove ours.

    Would it be unreasonable, since Tercels are no longer made, to suggest replacing it with an Echo? Or should we just take it that accidents happen, and live with it? Any reflections on what would be the 'right' thing here will be read with great interest, and appreciated very much. Thank you again. Tim
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,542 make it "right", that they should fix the car (on their insurance, NOT yours), and also cut a check for reduction of value, since the repaired car is going to be worth less.

    I don't think it would be fair for them to give you a brand-new Echo, since the Tercel is now 4, almost 5 model years old. The fair thing in this case would be for them to take the Tercel off your hands, and give you retail value for it (what they would sell it for if it had not been in an accident), and let you put that towards an Echo or other new car.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    dealers have insurance precisely because stuff happens, and their loyal and dedicated customer-service employees may occasionally get into a once-in-a-lifetime situation with your car despite the best of intentions.

    then, there are loser pinheads whose idea of a test drive includes repeating all the stunts that Evel Knievel couldn't pull off.

    if the dealer is stiffing you, either his insurance has canned him from hiring and holding on to too many useless car-wreckers, or they're skating on way too many edges trying to get through by the grace of God to the next quarter.

    the lawyer and if necessary court is the way to go here. you should not pay a penny for any of this. THEY messed you up, THEY should fix you up.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That's right. FULL value of your car prior to the accident. And don't let them do any abracadabra on an Echo deal whereby they end up charging you a high price for the Echo but bury that price in confusing numbers or monthly payment quotes instead of full price quotes.

    If the damage weren't severe (just a fender bender), I'd be happy with my car repaired impeccably, compensation for car rentals and any other reasonable charge your attorney can come up with.

    If you get into diminution of value, you are going to start a war and things will escalate. I would avoid a diminution demand, but rather stack up other legitimate charges that end up compensating you for the diminution anyway.

    If you have a record of the repairs done, and this is not serious, this should mitigate most diminution at the time of sale, if you show this to the new buyer.

    If the repairs are substantial, you may wish to strategize differently, with a car swap or purchase of a new car at what we would hope would be a most excellent price.

    The dealer is not on good legal ground here at all, but he can more successfully defend a diminution suit, especially if damage is not severe. So in essence the diminution dispute will hold up the entire settlement, and this may not be a wise move. Sometimes you need to wrap it up and get going with life, you know?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    Gets wild at times, especially when explaining the concept in court. While physical damage is different than a lemon law/breach of warranty case, the principle is the same - what he paid for, versus what he has now.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I'd want to cash out on the car and make a buy someplace else. we already know this guy is not playing his cards straight, and he wants to lock you in for three to five or more years of that with another car off his lot? unless there is another dealer who will service another guy's sale with a smile close in, I worry about this, and would want all my repairs and expenses cleaned up, then take the expense check elsewhere as a down payment while the interest-rate deals are still underway.

    this does, however, lead into the thicket of diminished value. it depends on how badly you need that couple thousand or so to get into the new ride.
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    Your insurance company is a good bet for help. They are interested in some one - not them - paying to repair your car to predamage state. They are going to know of the damage anyway, and they may even provide the lawyers.

    If you do not get the sort of help you need from your Insurance company, then hire your own lawyer. After all, why do you have insurance other than to protect yourself.

    Where Kinley when we need him?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Insurance companies HATE diminution suits and usually fight them to the death. They'll go to the mat every time with a diminution suit, they won't settle it.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I would be very tempted to look at a retail/retail or wholesale/wholesale exchange of the Tercel for a brand new car. Nothing else is going to really be fair to you, timo43.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    A dealer is not going to give you a new car on a fender-bender. The damage would have to be quite serious.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    You, or a lawyer of your choice, might request that the dealer accept the wrecked car at it's fair wholesale value prior to the damage, as a trade in toward a new car, which would be sold to you at dealer's invoice (or less, if circumstantially reasonable).
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