During the sales process, the salesman wiped off sludge from the oil dipstick and told her, “It was fine.”
Brazos Valley-based Teaching Pastor Blake Jennings of Grace Bible Church Southwood Campus shared a warning and cautionary tale on his personal Facebook page late last month alleging Houston-based used care dealership EZ Auto Finance knowingly sold one of Jenning’s community members a poorly maintained 2016 Buick Encore Crossover.
To make matters worse, EZ Auto Finance, either intentionally or by mistake, let her drive off without completing all the paperwork. Only after police intervention did they make the sale legal.
In exchange for the lady’s hard-earned $12,000, third-party mechanics discovered, after she’d already paid for her crossover, the entire engine block of the GM 1.4L Turbo engine was filled with sludge. Those mechanics believe this SUV hasn’t seen one oil-change in its entire 55,000 mile life.
Jennings, founder of the non-profit OnRamp (a faith-based vehicle charity program) is using his charity’s resources to finance a new engine for the unlucky lady, making her life whole again. He’s also trying his best to get EZ Auto Finance to put their money where their mouth is and to help finance at least half of the new engine.
On top of that, Jennings is spreading important and basic hints and helpful tips all used car buyers should heed before financing what’s literally the second biggest purchase in your life.
Check out Jenning’s story below (also posted as a photo so it all loads) and read on to find out how you can help prevent this automotive tragedy in your own life or the lives of others.
EZ Auto Finance, on 9525 Bissonnet St. Houston TX, doesn’t look like your average used car dealership. Wedged between a tile shop and a defunct Chase bank, three mobile offices for their salesmen make up most their buildings. With no proper facilities to service and maintain vehicles, they couldn’t do an oil change if they wanted to. All maintenance is most likely sublet out to a third-party mechanic.
Jenning’s mentions, “On the outside, it looked perfect” and to EZ Auto Finance’s credit, their current inventory shows a lot of meticulously clean cars.
Take a look at this gallery of photos from their listing for a 2008 Toyota Avalon with close to 200,000 miles below. Despite being 13 years old and a lifetime’s worth of mileage, it looks half its age. The headlights are buffed out, all four matching tires have a fresh sheen of dressing, and the paint pops probably thanks to a coat of Carnauba wax. At $4,900, it’s honestly a steal.
As Jenning’s is strongly hinting at, what counts the most is how healthy the engine, transmission, and all supporting components vital to a safe driving experience are working. Only someone in the know of what to look for can tell if the engine is up to snuff, if the transmission shifts smoothly, if there are telltale signs of an accident or if any major components like suspension, brakes, and emissions are on the verge of failure.
A crossover, like the Buick Encore, has one of those smaller turbo engines that, although they’ve been around for years (this 1.4T introduced in 2008) since they’re so small and strained, maintenance, like oil changes, are important. Oil not only keeps everything lubed, it feeds the turbo.
And when I said sludge-filled, it was not a hyperbole. In the photos the bottom block which is supposed to be clean thanks to being submerged in filtered oil, is plugged up. The upper valve train, responsible for opening and closing computer controlled valves , is also caked with the black jello.
Ironically enough, they even have a similarly priced Buick Encore sitting on their lot as of this writing.
Texas used car dealerships don’t owe you a duty of care.
Unfortunately, Texas puts the onus on the car buyer to meticulously inspect a used vehicle before purchase. Most used cars at this price point are probably sold “As is” and, although they’re required to disclose any known issues, it’s a tough road ahead trying to prove they willfully neglected to inform you.
What you can do to prevent these car tragedies.
It’s cliche, but an “ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” and “knowledge is power.”
Do your homework and vet both the seller and car you’re buying. Know the common issues with the car you have your eye on and ,if you can pay, for a pre-purchase inspection.
If you’re in the Brazos Valley area, warn your friends about EZ Auto Finance. Tell them to use common sense and not buy a shiny car parked at a former bank.