Darcars Chevrolet Sells Used Truck As “New”

In July 2004, James bought from Darcars Chevrolet in Lanham, MD what he thought was a new Chevy S-10 truck.

This year, his power window started. malfunctioning. James brought the truck to his local dealer for what he thought would be a warranty repair. When the local dealer pulled up his truck’s info from the GM warranty database, the dealer informed him that his 36 month warranty had expired.

Huh? James thought he still had 7 months to go!

The first dealer sold James a “spec-event used car” that had been sitting on his lot for a year. The warranty clock had already started ticking. However, on the bill of sale (included inside), you can clearly see the vehicle is marked as “new.”

James’ story, our advice, and more pix and evidence inside…



James writes:

“You can imagine my surprise when my local Chevy dealer told me that my new car warranty was expired after only two years. He gave me a copy of the GM database (attached) which listed my S-10 pickup truck as a “spec-event used car.”

…The local service manager was kind enough to cover the repair despite the warranty expiration; apparently they have some discretion at the local level….

After sending a certified package of documents and leaving four messages with the dealer which sold me the truck, there was no response so I sent an e-mail to GM directly. According to the response from Jimmy Sanchez (attached), a new-car warranty takes effect on the “original delivery date” which I assume is when it is delivered to the dealer. Since the car sat on the dealer’s lot for over a year when I bought it, my warranty was severely sliced.

As you can see, the original bill of sale lists the car as “New” with my initials next to the 200 mile notation on the bill ; the 200 miles represents the mileage on the truck when I bought it, which is not unusual for a new vehicle which has been test-driven. In addition, I received two GM rebates on the truck; I’ve never heard of GM rebates on used vehicles.

I bought a new vehicle! This seems like fraud to me.”

It not only seems like fraud, it is fraud. Don’t try to beseech Chevy for help, they don’t care what their dealers do.

Continue trying to reach the original dealer and see if you can work it out. Follow up those phone calls with formal requests in writing and send by certified mail.

If Darcars continues to be unresponsive, you would be well advised to file a police report and file suit. — BEN POPKEN

Click to enlarge warranty information from GM database and bill of sale.


Email to Chevy:

—–Original Message—– From: cac@chevrolet.com Sent: 12/12/2006 10:02:13 AM
———————————————————— Nature of concern : VehicleConcern

Message : I purchased this vehicle new from Darcars Chevrolet in Lanham, MD. Recently a local dealer informed me that my vehicle was in fact a “Spec-event used car” according to the GM Vehicle Inquiry System (I have a copy). Now my warranty has expired after less than two years of use. Apparently the warranty took effect when the dealer received the car and while it sat on his lot for more than one year. I bought a new car – with rebates – not a used car, and they are guilty of fraud. Paul, a manager at Darcars, will not return my calls after I sent a packet (two months ago) of documents relating to this problem. Hopefully you can help. Many thanks.

Response from Chevy:

    “Customer Relationship Specialist: Jimmy Sanchez

    Dear Mr. xxxxx,

    Thank you for contacting the Chevrolet Customer Assistance Center. We appreciate you taking the time to write us in regards to your 2003 Chevrolet S-10. The warranty for your S-10 is for 36 months or 36,000 miles whichever comes first for manufacturer defects in materials or workmanship. Coverage begins on the original delivery date; the start date on your warranty was 06/23/2003.

    Other components carry specific warranties based on state and federal law. Please refer to your Warranty Booklet or contact your Chevrolet Dealer for details. Additionally, the following Privileges of Ownership apply to all Brand owners: Roadside Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by phoning 800-252-1112. This includes no-charge road service for the first 36 months or 36,000 miles of ownership and is good almost anywhere in the U.S. or Canada and can provide help for flat tires, lost keys or even empty fuel tanks. There are several companies which offer vehicle extended service contracts. The General Motors Protection Plan (GMPP) is an extended warranty offered through General Motors.

    For further information on this warranty, please contact GMPP at 1-800-631-5590 or visit your selling dealership. Your dealership will also have information on any other available extended service contracts. If you have any questions, please contact us again. I have documented our correspondence in our database under Service Request number 71-4525xxxxx. Please provide this Service Request number when addressing this concern with us in the future. Providing your request number in all correspondence will be greatly appreciated and will aid us in expediting a timely response. If you should need to contact us in the future, simply reply to this message or call our General Motors Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-222-1020. Customer Relationship Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Eastern Time. For more information regarding the maintenance and care of your vehicle, please visit http://www.mygmlink.com. This free online service offers vehicle and ownership-related information and tools tailored to your specific General Motors. Again, thank you for contacting General Motors.

    Sincerely, The General Motors Consumer Support Team
    Chevrolet supports Buckle Up America. I encourage you, your family and your friends to always Buckle Up.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Falconfire says:

    boy what a canned response. My next step would be to get a Chevy manager on the phone and fax them the invoice and say deal with this or I will deal with you.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Okay, I am a little unclear on this. So it isn’t new, it is used? Used by who? Did someone else own it at some point? Would that be on a vehicle history report or something?

  3. AskCars says:

    An FYI: 200 miles is A LOT of miles on a new car. 200 miles should scream DEMO to any buyer out there and then you can negotiate an extended warranty.

    Otherwise, yes the original dealer seems to be the one at fault, you can’t really blame Chevy corporate.

  4. any such name says:

    i call bullshit. i bought my toyota with 7 miles on it, and thus my 36,000 mile warranty expired at 36,007 miles.

    however, this may be what you get for buying a chevy. (although i seem to remember the grand am i had being the same way – 36,000 miles on top of whatever mileage they had when they sold it to you.)

  5. number9ine says:

    Having worked in new car sales for a number of years, here’s my understanding as to how this may have happened.

    The “delivery date” referred to above is the date that the car is RDR’d (Retail Delivery Record) by the dealer. In other words, dealership staff enter the name, address, and other pertinent info of the purchaser as well as the purchase date. This is to confirm the warranty begin date, add the customer to GM’s mailing list, include them in a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) survey based on their dealership experience, and prove the car is sold so the dealer can collect holdback. There are certain conditions under which a car is RDR’d early. “Demo” vehicles, those driven by the dealership staff and used for test drives, are supposed to be RDR’d as such. Depending on the franchise, special incentives are given to the dealer to keep a fleet of demonstrators. The invoice above says the car had 216 miles, which I believe is actually over the statutory limit in some states for the definition of a “new” vehicle, and is certainly more than any of the vehicles from the factory will have on them when they’re unloaded from the truck. That means this car was either a demonstrator, swap (when two dealerships exchange sold cars in the other’s inventory by driving or flat-bedding them to each other), or possibly another option: the car was used by the mfr. or dealer for a special event, such as a ride-and-drive. The service record seems to confirm this.

    Beyond finding out just what a “spec-event used car (CVMS use)” actually is, GM probably isn’t at fault here. The dealership is on the hook for misrepresenting the car as a new vehicle when it had already been RDR’d for another purpose. I’d take the service record and bill of sale to the Dealer Principal (Not the sales or service manager), and demand that they honor the warranty through the date on the bill of sale, not the RDR date. Since GM thinks the car is out of warranty, this means that any warranty claims over the next x months will be eaten by the dealer. For the time and hassle, asking the dealer for a free extended warranty would be justified, and the dealer would probably be happy to pay the $5-1000 bucks for the privilege of a happy (and quiet!) customer.

    Best of luck, and as always, caveat emptor. :)

  6. Actually, 200 miles isn’t unusual on a new car that’s been test driven or moved from one dealership to another.

    The letter is misleading. Warranty coverage DOES start on the original delivery date – but that’s supposed to be the day it’s delivered to the buyer. If it started the day it showed up on the dealer lot there would be a lot of short warranties out there! I bought an S-10 several years back that had been setting on a lot for a year for my son. The warranty start date was the day I signed the purchase agreement.

    Unless I’m badly mistaken, a car is still legally considered a new car until it is titled. That’s why dealers can sell demo cars with 5K miles on them as “new” cars. If this truck was never titled, it should still be considered new. If the original dealer entered it as having been “sold” when it wasn’t, I’d say there are some shady accounting practices going on!

    (Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and am not familiar with the laws governing new car sales in all states. The information I provided above is based on my personal experiences in buying cars over the past 35 years.)

  7. Gizmodo says:

    It is considered “new” b/c it wasn’t titled by anyone else first. It was used as a spec vehicle and sat on a lot but there are technically no previous owners.

    In my opinion the buyer is SOL b/c he can just as easily buy a completely brand new but year old car and you don’t get that warranty time back. Really crappy what the Chevy dealer did ethically but not sure if it was technically illegal.

  8. Sucko-T says:

    Auto dealers have to be one of the most unregulated industries in America. They’re not giant corporations, they’re mostly family owned, so it would be wrong for Uncle Sam to crack down on the “little guy” never mind the fact he’s probably making at least 500k a year. Newspapers and local TV stations rarely run “investigative” stories about them, and the reason is simple. Ad dollars. Newspapers depend on car dealers for ad money. That’s why in my local paper there’s always fluff articles aimed at kissing the dealers hind end.

  9. kracer22 says:

    You can always try one of the local news channels, usually they have an “On your side” type reporting team that is on the look out for these types of stories. Usually they’ll create so much pressure, that they will somehow have to address the issue.

  10. Dr. Eirik says:

    200 miles isn’t that odd. I came close to buying a Mazda Tribute a few years back that would have had to be driven from a dealership in Portland, OR to Kirkland, WA. The dealer told me up front that it would add about 150 miles to the odometer and he had me sign a note to that effect.

    The deal fell through (something really strange happened on the Portland end) but I probebly wouldn’t blink too much at a couple hundred miles.

  11. htrodblder says:

    If the dealer was smart, He would provide a GMPP (extended policy) to the customer. It would have been very painless for all parties and the guy would have no reason to bash GM or the dealer. This stuff does happen from time to time and it is usually no big deal. I have done for customer more than once and kept the customer happy.

  12. mrmysterious says:

    Could it be just a simple typo that they should make right?

  13. Mad_Science says:

    How could it be used with 200 miles on it? That basically means the the 1st owner would have purchased it, driven it for less than a week and then brought it back. (With no other test drives or dealer transfers in there)

    “Delivery date” refers to the customer, not the dealer. Thus, again, someone had to have purchased it first, then taken it back or something.

    Of course, that they sold it labeled as new is pretty lame, and definitely fraudulent.

  14. vanilla-fro says:

    I always figured that the warranty started when you actually purchased the vehicle. it wouldn’t make sense for the warranty to be in effect while the vehicle is at the dealership, it shouldn’t have a cahnce to crap out at the dealership. And if it did I would think that the dealership could very easily get it taken care of without a warranty.
    I just think that if you buy the car and you are the first one to title the thing, the warranty shoulf start for you at that time. maybe I’m an idiot, but hey, I’ve only bought used so I don’t know much about warranties. I know a lot about breakdowns though.

  15. iamjames says:

    The judge has a lot of power on these kinds of things. Says you bought it July 2004 as a new vehicle so that’s when your warranty starts.

    I’ve never heard of starting a warranty when the dealership gets it, who knows how long that new car you’ve had your eye on for months has been sitting on the lot? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, on everything else you buy the warranty starts the day you buy it, that’s why people save receipts.

    I’d say at the very least the dealership owes you for an extended warranty. I’d sue in small claims for the price of an extended warranty.

  16. I too find the definition of “new” and “used” here to be a bit different. As others have said, it’s not used if it was never titled by the dealer.

    Rather than pursue the “you sold me a used car” avenue, I would pursue the, “delivered means delivered to the purchaser, not the dealer” route. The 3 years should have started from the date of the bill of sale and gone until 36,200 miles on the odometer.

    If warranty begins when the dealer receives the vehicle, does that mean that the dealer gets to claim warranty to any repairs that need to be made while it’s on the lot? Seems kinda ridiculous to me, but then again, the auto industry is one of the most corrupt industries in the world so it wouldn’t be surprising.

  17. Sudonum says:

    Warranties start the day you drive the car off the lot, not the day the dealer takes delivery of it. One possible explanation for this situation is a deal that “unwound”. The dealer sold it to someone else, started the title proceedings and then the customer brought the car back. Perhaps it was sold over the weekend and the first buyers credit didn’t check out on Monday. IANAL and laws vary by state, but I believe that once title documents go to the state then the vehicle is “used”.

  18. Ran Kailie says:

    Since this is local to the DC area, he should really contact WTOP and their call for action people. (http://www.wtopnews.com/)

    Submit a Complaint
    You may also call Tue-Fri from 11am-1pm at 301-652-HELP.

    Or email Shirley Rooker shirley@callforaction.org, they LOVE this sort of stuff. I’d drop them a line.

  19. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Are you all serious? You’ve purchased “new” cars with 200 miles on the odometer? A new car should have no more than 15 miles on it.. from assembly line to shipping container to port to delivery truck to dealer lot. Anything more than that is a used car.. used for test drives, used to get lunch, used as a loaner.

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s different for domestic cars, but all the Japanese cars I’ve bought had very low mileage on the odometer at the time of purchase.

  20. 99hugger says:

    That is a bunch of BS.I spoke to a friend that works at a local Chevy dealer up here and he even said if its a new vehicle the warranty starts the day the customer puchases the vehicle and is 36,000 over whats on it already.If its brand new.Thats how all my new vehicles have been.And the whole “Spec-event used car”.I was thinking if the truck was used for special events for advertising purposes it may have been licensed to a promotional/advertising company,and that could have kicked in the warranty? But this guy should definatley be getting a free extension on his warranty.

  21. htrodblder says:

    Years ago it was unusal for a car to have more than 5 or 6 miles on it when its new. Now vechiles are what is called “dealer traded” from new car dealer to dealer. If the vehicle you wanted is not available, the dealer finds it in someone elses inventory, then trades a vehicle of his/hers for it. Most of the time the vehicle is trailered, but if its within a hundred miles or so, it is just driven to the other store. “Special Event” vehicles are loaned to charities, sporting events, shows for display or to be driven over a weekend. The dealer thern agrees to purchase the vehicle at a small discount from the manufacturer. The down side is sometimes the vehicle is shown to be “delivered” and the warranty time/miles starts. This can be easy to miss in the fianance department and is usually no big deal. Either the salesperson didnt mention it, or the customer didnt hear it. Lets not condemn the dealer because only two the parties involved know what really happened.

  22. Magister says:

    Umm, very seldom will a local TV station help you in the case of a New Car dealership. Those dealerships will threaten to withhold advertising dollars. It is the same reason your local paper may attack Ford but not the dealership.

  23. infinitysnake says:

    htrodblder, you’re right- my husband was a car salesman years and years ago, and they did that soert of thing a lot. When the Tahoe was new and in demand, they would go as far as Reno to get them- which sometimes meant a day trip for us.

  24. cindel says:

    I live in Lanham and I suggest you take this story to ABC7 news local affilate WJLA I-Team “On Your Side” with Ross.

  25. infinitysnake says:

    And yeah, this is definitely fraud. A demo car would be used and HAS to be sold used; when a car is sold new its warranty starts when the new owner drives it off the lot.

  26. Sonix says:

    I wonder if it was “sold”to someone else, marked as delivered to Chevy, and then the deal fell through!

  27. kuvakas says:

    I was in the car business for years in the DC area. In Maryland, Virginia and DC, cars are legally considered new until they are formally titled through the state of the District. Most manufacturers require their dealers to register their demos whne they are placed in service and this starts the warranty clock ticking but allows the car to remain a new car. That’s probably similar to what happened here and here’s how it liely rolled out:
    The bank (GMAC) came by to check the inventory and, for whatever reason, this truck wasn’t on the lot. It may have been on display at a mall or taken to a parade. It may have been “spotted” given to a persepctive customer pending finance approval. the dealer probably told GMAC the car was either sold or a demo. GMAC then would have asked to see proof. TGhe proof would ahve been the paperwork on the car or the registration with GM as a demo. SInce the truck was obviously not titled, it is most likely the latter.
    The pain here is that the dealer knew the status and never revealed it. Either way, the buyer should have ben made aware of the used warranty time. The proceedure to cover this is simple and should have cost the dealer about $75, protecting the buyer and himself.
    I suggest calling the district office, not the national office. Get hold of the District Service Manager and the District Sales Manager. They are the ones who will immediately presuure the dealer to take action. They know him and know how to deal with him. You’ll get results much faster.

  28. Falconfire says:

    Are you all serious? You’ve purchased “new” cars with 200 miles on the odometer? A new car should have no more than 15 miles on it.. from assembly line to shipping container to port to delivery truck to dealer lot. Anything more than that is a used car.. used for test drives, used to get lunch, used as a loaner.

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s different for domestic cars, but all the Japanese cars I’ve bought had very low mileage on the odometer at the time of purchase.

    its very common for ALL companies (regardless of where they came from) to sell “new” cars with 100-200 miles on them. Often cars are shoved around and traded, especially when a deal picks up a weird color and needs one in a color that more people like. They make like trades for things and then drive the car there.

    This is especially common in places where dealers are few and far between but I have even had a car that was brand new, but had 117 miles on it from driving from out of state in one of these trades.

    The only time I have seen new cars with less than 20 have been ones right off the truck which is only common when the car is either built to order, or a new hot car or version and thus flys through the dealer.

  29. adidascrosscountry says:

    Years ago, I bought a new 1990 Jeep Wrangler from Darcars. I got the car during the winter months so I didn’t get around to washing it for several months. When it got warmer and I got into detailing the vehicle, I noticed that there was overspray in certain areas. Clearly the car was either not a new vehicle or it was damaged while being transported and not repaired professionally. Needless to say, I’m frustrated that my experience with this dealer seventeen years ago mirrors this more recent one. Some dealers are sleezier than others.

  30. omigosh says:

    You’ll find their ‘leave us a comment’ page at

  31. Falconfire says:

    noticed that there was overspray in certain areas.

    not to protect these guys but are you sure it wasnt manufacturing overspray?

    its was very common for cars to have some sort of overspray from painting, especially when they where painted by hand or in the early days of robotic manufacturing.

    Infact car restorers and auctioners today use overspray as a mark of authenticity or care of detail of a cars restoration.

  32. danio3834 says:

    With most manufactures, start the in-service date of the vehicle when it is sold to the first retail customer. The dealer is responsible for reporting this to the manufacturer. What happens in these cases is that the dealer makes a deal with a customer and they register the vehicle with the manufacturer, then the deal falls through and the warranty has begun. In most of these cases the dealer steps up to the plate and covers the vehicle from the sale date. The manufacturer has little recourse.

  33. adidascrosscountry says:

    “…are you sure it wasnt manufacturing overspray?”

    I thought about that and I suppose it could have been. I noticed it most clearly on the black rubber wheel well that met up with the red paint on the front fender. Would it have made sense that this piece of trim would be attached before the vehicle was painted? I was told no, that in production this trim was attached after the paint was applied.

    I hope they (Darcars) enjoyed my measly $15k back then. Because it’s the last green they’ve seen from me. Frankely, it was not that big of a deal. So when Darcars was unresponsive, I let it go and the Jeep proved nearly bulletproof throughout the 90s. The neighbor’s kid restored it a couple years ago as his first car.

  34. bob9 says:

    He got hosed by the dealer, not GM or it’s Chevrolet division. GM and most of it’s dealer network have nothing to do with each other, placing the blame on GM is a little premature.
    It’s a shame GM lets their dealers ruin their image.

  35. loraksus says:

    bob9 says:
    He got hosed by the dealer, not GM or it’s Chevrolet division. GM and most of it’s dealer network have nothing to do with each other, placing the blame on GM is a little premature.
    It’s a shame GM lets their dealers ruin their image.

    The thing is, there is a ton of communication between GM and their dealer network.
    In addition to emails, written correspondence, etc, a guy called the Area Vehicle Manager (aka AVM) tours around and stops by dealers and takes care of problems and the like. The AVM can bring down some serious fire and brimstone onto douchbag dealers and if this goes public, you can bet someone will get yelled at for this case.

    Kind of surprised that nobody has mentioned them yet.

    If you haven’t contacted the Sales Manager or the General Manager of the dealership, give them a call. If they refuse to speak with you or continue to act like dicks, fuck them and move on.
    They have the option of exercising the “secret warranty” or giving you some “goodwill” which may include a warranty extension – something which they have given out countless times in the past – they just don’t want to do it.

    Contact the AVM.

    Who is the AVM? Good question. They tend to like to hide their identities and phone numbers.
    Try and see if you can find it for your area.

    If you can’t you’re probably stuck with dealing with GM CAC (customer assistance center). You’ll get mental defective mouthbreathers who, although they have “manager” in their job title – sit amidst 1000+ other “managers” in what amounts to long tables with 1′ high dividers and make $9 an hour.
    These are people so powerless, they require 2 supervisor’s approval and a form, including a pre-written copy of the message to leave a voicemail for the AVM.
    GM doesn’t trust them enough to actually speak with the AVM.

    Before they actually start the process though, they are told to do as much as they can (“push back on the customer”) to minimize the amount of voicemail the AVM gets.

    In addition, during this “AVM voicemail process”, your complaint will be made to sound as pathetic as possible. The CAC agent is instructed to deny the existence of the AVM and to not give you the guy’s direct phone number.

    CAC agents also have virtually no power on their own. Each and every single thing that they do is approved by either a dealership or the AVM. They are there to basically serve as mediators between other people and you. Some agents might be able to give you a free oil change or something, but that’s about it.
    If you call, mention your “previous” GM cars and how happy you were with the company as this “helps” in their negotiations with the dealership.

    It’s pretty pointless really, so avoid them if at all possible.

    Don’t piss off the AVM, because they are god-like in their assigned region. They are given a fair bit of autonomy from above and their word is final. They have control of dozens, if not hundreds of dealerships, so they aren’t going to make a special trip to see you.
    Don’t be whiny, just deal with the facts.

    BTW, one of the major centers where calls are handled is just outside of Portland, Oregon

    Google maps will give you directions.

    Doubt that will do you any good though… Last I heard, all of GM’s “customer service” was handled by Sitel – They also have GM offices in Austin and Tampa (look for Sitel)

  36. kaydeim says:

    Whenever a car is put into any sort of GM Program,(demo, loaner, event, etc.) the clock starts on the warranty as of the date that it enters the program. Legit dealers will write in the warranty start and end dates on the sales contract and go over that with the customer when they are in the business office along with options for extending the warranty. What Darcars appears to have done wrong is not fully disclose this fact to the customer. However, I don’t know if the dealer is required to disclose the fact that the car was involved in one of these programs. I worked for a GM dealer and we (our companies policy) were required to disclose it to our customer. In fact, we would always print out the GM vehicle summary shown above that show the start date. I think I would go through all pieces of documentation that I received from the dealership and make sure that there is no mention of the early start date, then pursue all of the avenues mentioned in the posts above.

  37. robertlangdirect says:


    I am looking at a “new” F-150 from DARCARS right now. I will be sure to go over it well and have the Ford provided warranty start date BEFORE I pay!