Send Ben: Jacksonville-area mom claims her car’s odometer was altered

Local mother claims odometer was altered

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax investigates a local mother’s claims that a local used car dealer sold her a vehicle with more miles on it than advertised.

“Initially I thought it was a deal of a lifetime,” said Christina Wilson, who purchased a 2008 Honda Accord for her son Zabian in December from the Motor Mall on Atlantic Boulevard.

Action News Jax first told you about the Motor Mall in 2017 after discovering it had received dozens of complaints for its sales practices.

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Wilson tells Action News Jax anchor Ben Becker one day after signing a contract to lease to buy the car for about $10,000, she had a bad feeling.

Wilson said while the dealer was fixing the check engine light, she checked the Carfax report and discovered that the car had about 49,000 miles, not the approximately 45,000 it says on the contract.

She also learned it was a salvage vehicle, which she didn’t understand at the time she bought it.

Wilson asked for a refund of her $2,000 cash down payment and to tear up the contract and reached out to Becker for help.

Becker first called the Motor Mall to speak to owner Vadim Gavrilov who he first confronted in 2017. In that Action News Jax investigation, Becker uncovered the dealership had previously been fined $25,000 by the Florida Attorney General for unlawful and deceptive trade practices.

Becker went inside the dealership looking for Gavrilov, but was told he wasn’t around, although another worker knew about Wilson’s issues.

“Yes we have a complaint with her but I don’t want to talk to ya,” the man said before asking Becker to leave.

A few minutes later, Gavrilov showed up, smiled at Becker from across the parking lot and walked away.

Although there’s no proof as to who may have tampered with Wilson’s odometer, we learned odometer fraud is a serious crime.

But there’s a loophole in that vehicles 10 years or older are exempt from the written disclosure requirements involving odometer readings. Wilson’s car is 11 years old.

“Always buyer beware,” said Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson. “If you do some research, you discover these things.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, the Motor Mall has an F rating with 65 complaints in the last three years.

“This is a life learning experience,” Wilson tells Becker. “Some things are too good to be true.”

Becker spoke to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, which regulates and licenses car dealerships.

The agency is now investigating Wilson’s case.

Under Florida law, a dealer can lose its license if it has a pattern of wrongdoing.