Used car quandary highlights need for inspection by independent mechanic

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Brandy Lipp works full-time and has a family. She needs a reliable car. This past summer, she dipped into her savings and bought a 2005 BMW from a used car lot in Olathe.

Right away, she said, there were problems.

First the heat stopped working. Then the parking brake started rattling, but the car lot fixed both problems free of charge.
She was satisfied until a week later when she said the car started overheating.

"The fourth time I brought it in there that was when my warranty was out, and that's when they found out they had a blown head gasket," Brandy said.

That's an unusal problem for a BMW and one the dealership said Brandy may have caused by changing out the BMW radiator cap with a generic one she purchased at an automotive store.

Despite that the dealership said it offered to split the cost of repairing the head gasket with Brandy, charging her $1,440.
Brandy doesn't think she should have to pay for a problem that she is convinced existed before she bought the car.
But the dealership that sold her the car, Olathe Auto Ranch, disagreed that the problem was pre-existing.

"I feel we went above and beyond to treat her fairly," said Olathe Auto Ranch owner Angela Moore.

Moore pointed out that the dealership had made two earlier repairs on Brandy's car for free, even though they weren't covered by her warranty, and it provided her with a loaner car after the busted head gasket was diagnosed.

"I think we've done everything we can to make it right," Moore said.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers checked the Carfax report on the BMW to see if the overheating issue had been reported by a previous owner, but didn't find anything.

So here's the problem, because Brandy didn't have the car inspected by an independent mechanic prior to purchasing it, it's difficult to determine who's to blame.

Was it that new radiator cap that caused the problem?

Problem Solvers checked with a BMW mechanic who agreed with Olathe Auto Ranch that a generic radiator cap, if it didn't fit tightly, may have caused the problem. Although he said that would be unusual.

The only way to know for sure would be to have the car towed from the garage at Olathe Auto Ranch to a new mechanic where both the car and the radiator cap can be inspected.

That's what Brandy tells us she has decided to do. So for now, this is a Problem Solver in the works.