Bought a Used Car That Can’t Pass Smog? What to Do

If you've ever considered buying a ride from a used car dealership, buyer beware -- and make sure you see the Smog certificate.

An I-Team investigation led to the California DMV launching its own investigation into a dealer in Southern California.

It all started with Yanal Alsimadi.

The Azusa man bought a used car, but then the state said he couldn't drive it.

He bought the 2000 Toyota from used car dealer 4L Motors in LA.

"I said I wanted to buy from a dealership because I bought two cars before from regular people and they burned me," he said.

But it didn't turn out that way. Alsimadi couldn't register his car with DMV because the smog inspection was past due. And when he took the car to get smogged, it failed.

4L Motors sold him a car he couldn't drive.

"I got burned. Yeah. They cheated me," he said.

Alsimadi didn't know it, but by law, dealers are required to provide a Smog certificate at the time of sale for any car older than four years. If they don't, the DMV can fine them.

But plenty of dealers are skipping that part of the sale, according to attorney Pauliana Lara. She's represented customers who also bought used cars that failed smog tests.

"Why we have so many consumer complaints about auto sales is because the dealers aren't meeting their duty," Lara said.

Lara says dealers get by with this behavior because the DMV allows it.

"Unfortunately enforcement is the problem," she said.

NBC4 reached out to the DMV to ask how many smog-related complaints it has received and how many dealers it has fined. The DMV didn't have an answer because the department doesn't track that information.

But the DMV did take action when NBC4 shared Alsimadi's complaint. The DMV sent an investigator out to 4L Motors. The dealer immediately fixed Alsimadi's car and it passed smog. The DMV also launched a criminal investigation and turned the case over to the LA city attorney. A hearing is set for next month to try and resolve issues before charges are filed.

4L Motors didn't respond to our request for comment.

Alsimadi said he's relieved to own a car he can finally drive.

"If they fix it for real, fix the car and smog it, I'm good with this," he said.

If you buy a car from a dealer and don't get a smog certificate and it doesn't pass Smog, the dealer is required by law to fix the car so it passes Smog.

Still having a problem? Contact NBC4's Randy Mac.

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