Kansas Car Dealer Fined $418K for Deceptive Sales Practices

The dealership sold multiple cars with non-functioning airbags and devices installed to deactivate the dashboard warning lights.

Carnation-Car-Nation-Wichita-KS-airbags-fine

Carnation LLC, a Wichita, KS, car dealership, was ordered by a state district court to pay a $418,197 default judgment after the dealership was found guilty of engaging in deceptive practices by selling vehicles with undisclosed safety issues, District Attorney Marc Bennett announced.

Carnation, also known as Car Nation, came under scrutiny following a consumer complaint which led to an investigation by the Office of the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division. The investigation uncovered the dealership had sold multiple vehicles with non-functioning airbags, a fact it failed to disclose to the buyers. This violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA), under which Carnation LLC had already been penalized in a 2019 consent judgment for similar misconduct.

The court found Carnation's repeated failure to disclose crucial safety information constituted willful violations of both the 2019 consent judgment and the KCPA.

According to the court’s findings, in the first quarter of 2023 alone, Carnation sold 13 cars in which airbags had been deployed and not replaced, with devices installed to deactivate the dashboard warning lights.

The court ordered Carnation to compensate the affected consumers, paying $2,000 per car to 12 individuals, totaling $24,000 in restitution. Additionally, Carnation faces $390,000 in civil penalties, alongside court costs and investigation fees. The dealership's license to operate in Kansas has also been revoked, with a permanent injunction preventing them from selling any motor vehicles within the state.

The Office of the District Attorney reminded buyers to exercise care when shopping for a used vehicle. Devices can be used to conceal a car is missing functioning airbags, even if inspected by a mechanic. It is important to also examine a CARFAX or similar vehicle history report to identify crashes that may have resulted in the deployment of airbags. In addition, it is recommended the consumer perform a general online search of a prospective car purchase's VIN, which can often reveal photos of prior damage to the car.

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