'Take someone, a support person' – AA's essential advice after teen's nightmare with first car

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The AA is warning first-time car buyers to do all their checks and balances after being alerted to a case of misleading advertising by a Tauranga company.

Teenager Chelsie Osterman bought her first vehicle – a 1998 Daewoo Lanos – from Best Buy Cars in November last year.

It was advertised on Trade Me as having ABS brakes, air conditioning and a driver's airbag.

It had none of those things – even the air conditioning, which had a button inside the car, didn't lead to anything under the bonnet.

"At first I just wanted him to sort of say like I'm sorry, like I messed up, whatever, but he didn't."

"And things just kept getting worse and worse, and more things kept getting wrong, and now I don't even know like if anything else is wrong with it," Chelsie said.

Fair Go goes into bat for a 17-year-old whose dream car turned out to be a lemon.
Source: Fair Go

When Chelsie took the car for a service before driving north to Auckland, she was informed the tyres were bald, the disk rotors were "destroyed" and the breather hose was leaking oil all over the engine.

Her mechanic had a stark warning.

"He said it shouldn't have got a warrant, it shouldn't be driving around, it was asking for trouble."

The repair bill was an extra thousand dollars Chelsie couldn't afford, but when she contacted Best Buy Cars, she couldn't get the company to help.

The Best Buy representative who sold Chelsie the car, Ryan Cook, isn't the company's registered motor vehicle dealer.

Cook says that person is his girlfriend, Emma Shearer. But he denies the car was falsely advertised.

"It was an honest mistake, it wasn't intentionally misrepresented," he said.

Fair Go asked to speak with Emma Shearer, but Cook said she wasn't available.

"She's my partner, I help her out where I can if she really needs it. To be honest I don't really enjoy having much involvement with it."

Emma Shearer has since been in touch with Fair Go to say Best Buy Cars denies all of Chelsie’s claims, and accepts no liability for the car's alleged faults.

'It's important you get a second opinion'

The AA told Fair Go buying a car can be a tricky process, especially if you've never done it before – and have no idea what to look for.

"Once you've gone through and made a decision on a car that you really would like to have, go along and have a look at it."

"Take someone, a support person. It's important that you can get a second opinion from someone as you're looking around," says Phil Collings, the AA's Network Support Manager.

"It's good to ask the current owner for any details. Ask about servicing history, ask about whether it's had any problems with getting a Warrant of Fitness."

"You want to be able to look at the service book if, if the car has one. If it doesn’t then you start thinking about what sort of inspection can I have done to make sure that this car's going to be good for me,” he says.

After some negotiation, Cook agreed to pay $3000 to refund the cost of the car and repairs Chelsie had paid for.

However, after being notified the total cost was in fact $3103, Cook and Shearer cancelled the deal.

The pair said they would pay the full amount in exchange for the car – if Chelsie pulled out of the story with Fair Go.

Chelsie says she'd rather take the case to court, than take a lower amount.

"Well I don't think he should, or Emma, whoever the business is, should be selling cars at all… If they can't do it and provide a safe car, like they're fine to give a 17-year-old learner a car that's not going to work then he shouldn't be selling cars at all, full stop."

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