Suppose a customer went into a dealership to buy a new car. It is dark outside, but the customer notices a scratch before the sale and everyone agrees that it will be fixed.

After seeing the car in daylight the next day, the customer notices the scratch is part of a group of horizontal scratches and that there was clearly an incident with the car coming into contact with something.

Does this kind of incident need to be reported to the customer prior to sale?

What is the obligation of the dealership to fix all the scratches?

Are there other implications?

  • The first scratch, noticed the night before, is evidence of an "incident with the car coming into contact with something". What needs to be "reported" that the customer isn't already aware of? Did the dealer specifically instruct the body shop to fix one scratch, (and one scratch only) out of several that are clearly the result of the same incident? (Generally they will repair an area of damage, and that should be the expectation here...) Jul 17, 2022 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


A new car should be a new car, without any damage. But, if you did sign the contract after you saw the one scratch at night, the dealer may have needed to disclose in writing all of the damage (what you first saw and what you saw the next day) in writing before you signed.

From NC Department of Justice - Disclosing New Car Damage

• Dealers are required to disclose in writing any damage and repair that exceeds five percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price before you enter into a contract.

• Dealers are not required to disclose any damage to glass, tires or bumpers if the damaged item has been replaced with original or comparable equipment.

• If a new car has been repaired for damages that do not exceed five percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, then the dealer does not have to tell you about the damage unless you ask.

• If a new car has been damaged more than the five percent threshold, the North Carolina Automobile Dealer’s Association recommends that its dealers disclose it in writing on company letterhead. A copy of this disclosure should be submitted along with the title to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

So if you are now in possession of the car, tell the dealer you have checked with the NC DOJ and ask the dealer about the total cost of the damages and see what they say.

It's a good idea to take photos, and you may want to get a repair estimate from a body shop to calcuate yourself if the damage is over the 5% threshold.

If you suspect the car may not be new and may be used, that's serious, and the dealer will have had to fully disclose that in writing. You can talk to the DMV or use the VIN number to check CARFAX.

If you have problems with the dealer or suspect the car may not be new, you can contact the DOJ at the URL above or call them at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

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