Car dealer conceals crash histories

Motor trader Michael Broadhurst was selling cars from his $1.8 million mansion.
PHIL DOYLE/Sunday Star-Times
Motor trader Michael Broadhurst was selling cars from his $1.8 million mansion.

A wealthy Auckland car salesman posing as a private vendor is selling vehicles from his home that have been written off in crashes, while failing to tell potential buyers of their true histories.

Mark Broadhurst is a registered motor vehicle trader, but people who go to view cars for sale from the driveway of his $1.8 million mansion in Greenhithe on Auckland's North Shore are left with the impression he is a private seller. By withholding information from consumers, Broadhurst may be in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

Broadhurst, who once owned a car sales firm implicated in an odometer tampering scam, was last week selling three cars on the online auction site TradeMe. He is using the account name "maybul" and the account profile gives the name Jacqui, North Shore.

Sunday Star-Times inquiries have found that all three cars, a 2006 Hyundai Sonata, a 2002 Volkswagen Golf and a 2003 Peugeot, were written off by insurance companies after their owners crashed them, and have since been repaired. Broadhurst admitted on Friday that he bought the cars at damaged car auctions. He said it was "pointless" telling people about the crash histories unless they were committed buyers, at which point he revealed the information.

Nothing in the Motor Vehicle Sales Act requires car dealers to reveal whether a car has been crashed, but Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the Dog & Lemon Guide, said customers had a right to know.

"The fact that a vehicle has been in an accident doesn't mean that it's unsafe, provided it's been repaired correctly. However, the customer has a right to know. Inevitably, vehicles that have been previously accident-damaged are worth less because people are quite rightly wary of them.

"What [Broadhurst] is doing is pretending to be a private seller offering a bargain. Instead he's a dealer offering a previously damaged car at a price that isn't a bargain, and without offering a guarantee."

The Star-Times tracked down the previous owner of the Golf, who asked not to be named. She said she lost control of the car when the brakes jammed while driving in Northland in February, and crashed into a post. "It was shattering. I couldn't believe it. I thought 'these cars are supposed to have ABS brakes'," the woman said. The car had extensive damage to the front and driver's side - "it looked atrocious" - and a panelbeater quoted the repair bill at $7000-$8000. The insurance company, Vero, decided to write it off.

The woman said she paid about $16,000 for the car in 2005. Broadhurst is asking $13,900. "It's outrageous they're asking that for it, that's gross," the woman said.

Matthew-Wilson said similar vehicles in good condition that had never been accident-damaged regularly sold at Turner's Car Auctions for under $10,000.

A Star-Times reporter went to the property posing as a buyer interested in the Golf. Registered car dealers are required to display a Consumer Information Notice with information about a car's history and consumer rights, but the Golf had no such notice. Broadhurst said he was selling the car because he had too many. Asked if anything about the car's history would be of concern, he said: "Nah, nah. There's no mechanical dramas".

The reporter asked about an AA check but Broadhurst recommended an "independent" check by another company, which he would arrange.

Confronted later at an investment property he is renovating, Broadhurst said he was allowed by law to operate from anywhere. He had only recently renewed his trader's licence, after "winding down" his last car sales firm, Direct Cars, which TVNZ consumer show Fair Go revealed had been selling cars with wound-back odometers. Broadhurst said he knew nothing about odometer tampering and no charges had ever been laid.

Broadhurst said he had made it clear on the auction for the Hyundai that it had been involved in a "small rear-end accident".

But Star-Times inquiries show that when he first listed the vehicle, he made no mention of any crash. A potential buyer told the paper he had an AA check done which revealed evidence the car had been on a panelbeater's realignment machine. He posted a question on the auction asking if the car had been in an accident, but got no reply. Broadhurst said he could not reply because his computer crashed. He later re-listed the Hyundai and included information about the accident.

The Ministry of Economic Development says Broadhurst is registered under the company name Hartley Investments, trading as Parkside Motors. Its national enforcement unit would investigate whether he had breached the Motor Vehicle Sales Act by trading under another name on TradeMe.

Sunday Star Times