State: Used car dealer broke state code

Michael Heller's used 2004 Saturn Vue. (Oct. 13, 2014)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Secretary of State’s office says a dealer who sold a used car with a warranty that never kicked in violated the Michigan Vehicle Code, but the dealer still refuses to take the car back.

Target 8 reported what happened to Michael Heller last week. He purchased a 2004 Saturn Vue from Vallone Motors on Buchanan Avenue SW. The dealer promised a 90-day, 4,500 mile powertrain warranty would be included in the deal.

But shortly after finalizing the purchase, Heller received a notice from the warranty company advising him that his vehicle was not covered because the company doesn’t cover Saturns.

Days later, he started having trouble with the Vue’s transmission and eventually it quit working altogether. If the warranty Heller paid for had kicked in, the transmission would have been covered.

In response to Heller’s complaint, the Secretary of State’s office sent him a letter on Oct. 13 advising that Vallone Motors had broken the Michigan Vehicle Code.

“The results of the investigation indicate that the Dealer violated the Michigan Vehicle Code and accordingly, appropriate Notices of Non-Compliance have been issued,” the letter stated in part. “At the time of this writing, the Dealer has advised me that they do not intend to buy this vehicle back from you.”

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State told 24 Hour News 8 that the investigation found violations related to the warranty problem and the way paperwork was filed in connection with the sale of the vehicle.

A conference will be scheduled and a final determination will be made about whether Vallone Motors will face sanctions from the state, the Secretary of State spokesperson said.

Vallone Motors owners gave Heller a check for $1,450, half of the estimated cost to repair the transmission. But Heller says that’s not enough. He wants the warranty that was supposed to come with the vehicle. It would have covered the entire cost of the repair.

The dealers have also said that Heller should have immediately expressed that he wanted out of the deal when he got the notice advising him that the warranty wasn’t there.

Heller says he did — and he has the text message to prove it.

“…kind of don’t want the car if we can’t have the warranty that’s supposed to come with the vehicle…,” the text message said in part.

“And I even put a sad face in there,” Heller said in an interview Monday.

“I’ll call you later,” read the apparent response from Chip Bigelow, the owner of Vallone Motors. The text message was sent on Aug. 4. The sale of the vehicle was finalized on July 31.

Bigelow did not respond Monday evening to Target 8’s phone call requesting comment on the Secretary of State’s findings.

Heller has also filed complaints with the Michigan Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau.

Vallone Motors responded to the the AG’s office complaint in a letter dated Sept. 29 (pdf).

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Online:

Look up Technical Service Bulletins for your vehicle via the NHTSA

Michigan Vehicle Code

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