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Action: Lincoln's low down payment isn't transferred

Lincoln's down payment will not be transferable

Q: In July, I went to Friendly Auto Sales in St. Petersburg to buy a vehicle. I settled on a 1989 Mark 7 Lincoln Town Car for $1,300. So far, I've paid $550.

This car should never have left the lot. The entire instrument panel is inoperable. I was told that it simply needed a fuse, but I've since found out I can't even get one from a Lincoln dealer. The entire undercarriage is rusted out and I consider it unsafe. The frame could fall apart while driving. I'm told it's against the law to drive the car without a working odometer or speedometer.

Friendly Auto Sales has been less than friendly. They refuse to exchange cars or work with me. The car shouldn't be driven, but I'm still paying for it.

I don't think any citizen should be treated this way.

Desmond Hill

A: Yours may be a case to support judging a book by its cover. If all the flaws you describe are accurate, one wonders why you bought the car in the first place.

Friendly Auto Sales owners Robert and Marjorie Shafer said you've bought a car from them in the past and paid it off in full.

"Mr. Hill's main objective when he came in a second time was for the cheapest down payment car we had," Mrs. Shafer said.

The Shafers said they were honest with you about what was wrong with the car but you insisted your mechanic could fix whatever was wrong. "At no time was Mr. Hill told all the car needed was a fuse," Mrs. Shafer said. "If that were the truth, we would have supplied the fuse, gladly."

You later visited the lot and asked to trade into another Lincoln, which had a higher down payment than the one you bought, according to Mrs. Shafer.

"I had every intention of helping Mr. Hill trade into the other Lincoln," she said. "But what made him angry . . . was that he wants to use his down payment of $364 and the car payments he's made since he had the car" to finance the other one. The Shafers declined on the principle that you've been driving the car all along so you should be making payment on that.

She said your last visit to the lot was Aug. 25 and you were still trying to negotiate the same terms.

"I stick by what I said," Mrs. Shafer said. "We will let Mr. Hill trade into the newer Lincoln. But he needs to work with us too."

It's not legal to drive a car without a working odometer, according to Courtney Heidelberg at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

It's not legal to sell one either, she said, "unless the information is disclosed up front and in writing to the seller. The seller and buyer must sign an affidavit stating that the mileage is inaccurate."

But there is an exception to this law that covers your car. According to F.S. 319.225(4), it doesn't apply to cars 10 years old or older.

Heidelberg could find nothing in Florida statutes or federal law that prevents the sale of a car with a broken or nonfunctioning speedometer.

Action: Lincoln's low down payment isn't transferred 09/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 11:22pm]
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