Pennsylvania AG lawsuit alleges local dealership sold cars that didn’t pass inspection, broke down

PITTSBURGH — The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has filed a lawsuit against a local car dealership and its president for allegedly deceiving customers about the conditions of the cars they were selling.

According to the lawsuit, North Hills Auto Mall sold customers cars that they said were in good condition and under warranty, but those cars often broke down shortly after they were sold or didn’t pass inspection.

The lawsuit also said the dealership classified the vehicles as being sold “as is” and that the warranty was actually a limited service contract made through a third party.

Pennsylvania has a law against selling vehicles where the dealer knew or should have known about serious issues involving the offered vehicle, even if the vehicle is sold “as is.”

“This is every used cay buyer’s worst fear – paying hard-earned money and realizing soon after that the vehicle is in poor condition,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said. “My office has a duty to uphold state law and regulations that prohibit deceptive car dealers from swindling consumers in this fashion, and we will do everything in our power to uphold that duty. Consumers deserve nothing less.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the lawsuit calls for North Hills Auto Mall and its president, Regis Mannke, to do the following:

  • Pay restitution to all consumers who have suffered losses;
  • Be permanently prohibited from doing business as a seller of motor vehicles in Pennsylvania or to Pennsylvania consumers, and engage in any practices that violate the Consumer Protection Law, Auto Regulations, the Vehicle Code, and/or the Board of Vehicles Act;
  • Pay civil penalties of $1,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older.

The lawsuit also said the dealership required $500 minimum deposit to hold cars and didn’t refund it if, for any reason, the sale didn’t go through.

North Hills Auto Mall also allegedly violated the state Auto Regulations by failing to provide consumers with required documentation, such as the purchase agreement and warranty information, the Attorney General’s Office said.

The 78-page lawsuit outlines the alleged unfair and illegal business practices at North Hills Auto Mall on Camp Horne Road. It accuses them of knowingly selling used cars that were unsafe and had serious issues, including steering and transmission problems, and emergency brakes not working.

The AG the dealership claimed the cars were safe to drive but were never professionally inspected before they were sold. According to the lawsuit, on numerous occasions, North Hills Auto Mall advertised cars as being “in mint condition,” “exceptional condition,” or “excellent condition.

Several people left scathing reviews online about North Hills Auto Mall, saying things like, “Never buy a car from here;” “sold me a lemon; and “this place is a scam.” Not all reviews were bad, however. Channel 11 found two good reviews praising the salespeople.

The deceitful practices described in the lawsuit are a violation of laws and regulations. According to the complaint, the car dealership failed to give buyers certain documents, including the sale agreement, odometer statement and warranty information.

In many instances, the AG said North Hills Auto Mall kept deposits - one costing a customer as much as $4,000. The lawsuit also states that after customers complained about the major issues, the dealership failed to fix the car, refund or replace it.

Consumers who believe they or someone they know may have been a victim of North Hills Auto Mall should file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection online, by calling 800-441-2555 or emailing scams@attorneygeneral.gov.

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