The state Attorney General’s Office has taken legal action against a Sharpsburg used car dealership accused of knowingly selling numerous vehicles that weren’t roadworthy and came with worthless warranties.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Friday announced his office has filed a lawsuit against JK Motor Cars at 1214 Main St. and its owner, Jaison Kelly.
Kelly also operates an unlicensed used car dealership under the same name in the 500 block of Seavey Road in Shaler, according to the lawsuit filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
JK Motor Cars recently applied to open a third location in West Deer.
The West Deer supervisors have scheduled a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 to consider a request from the company to sell used vehicles on a 1.4-acre lot along Oak Road.
“In Pennsylvania, demand for used cars remains high,” Shapiro said. “These dealerships sought to cash in on that demand and make a quick buck deceiving hardworking Pennsylvanians.
“Consumers bought these cars only for them to break down or, in one notable case, catch fire, days after purchasing. My office won’t allow such blatant disregard for the law and the safety of Pennsylvania drivers to go unchallenged,” he said.
Shapiro also announced he is taking legal action against a dealership in Philadelphia, named Carspot, alleging the same type of business practices.
The attorney general said he is asking the courts to order the companies to cease their illegal business practices and pay a $1,000 fine for each instance in which a buyer was defrauded and $3,000 if the consumer was 60 or older, according to a copy of lawsuits.
The attorney wrote in the 257-page lawsuit filed against JK Motor Cars that the company advertised that its cars were sold through its “JK Certified Program” that included a three-month, 3,000-mile limited power train warranty.
In multiple instances, Shapiro said, the company refused to make repairs and told customers that they had, in fact, bought the vehicle “as-is.”
Shapiro also accused the company of intentionally deceiving customers by advertising that the vehicles for sale recently had been serviced, passed state inspection, had a thorough service history and that major components such as the engine and transmission operated as they should.
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In numerous instances, serious problems, including a number that made them unfit for the road, were uncovered after the purchase, the attorney general said.
The lawsuit cites examples of vehicles sold with bent, cracked or twisted frames; cracked engine blocks and heads; flood damage; faulty transmissions; severe rust; and components that could not pass a state safety inspection.
The lawsuit accuses JK Motor Cars of selling vehicles that “they knew, or should have known, were not roadworthy.”
Shapiro said even after being notified of a problem during the implied warranty period, repairs were not made and no refund or replacement was offered.
The attorney general said the company’s deceptive business practices included:
• Failing to affix a window sticker saying that a vehicle is being sold as-is and does not carry a warranty, which must be in 20-point, bold lettering, according to state law.
• Taking deposits for vehicles and not refunding the money when the buyer was unable to secure financing
• Not recording the make, model or identification number of trade-in vehicles.
• Not notifying customers that they had the right to cancel a purchase until the sales agreement was signed by an authorized dealer representative.
Kelly, who owns JK Motor Cars, said by telephone Friday that the accusations being made against his dealership are false.
“We’ve been working with the attorney general for several months, but they have refused to tell us what we should be doing differently with these (vehicle) transactions,” he said. “There was no misrepresentations made when we sold the vehicles; that’s completely wrong.”