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Woman Sues Car Dealer Over 'Dead Body' Smell in Her SUV

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 07, 2011 8:45 AM

Something stinks, literally, about Margarita Salais' used car. The Michigan motorist is suing the dealership where she bought her SUV -- which came not with a "new car" smell, but a "dead body" smell.

Talk about bad B.O. Remember the Seinfeld episode about the body odor in Jerry's car that wouldn't go away? Salais claims the stench in her car is even worse, and she's alleging a cover-up, The Detroit News reports.

Salais bought her used SUV on a frosty day in March. The vehicle smelled somewhat strange, but Salais put up with it -- until the frigid spring thawed into summer.

"The warmer it got, the worse the smell got," Salais' lawyer told the News.

The dealer said it was a dead animal, but Salais didn't roll over so quickly. Her insurance company conducted scientific tests, and found the "dead body" smell was exactly that, according to documents filed with her lawsuit.

Salais also learned the SUV had a lengthy list of priors: It had previously been a rental vehicle, and had also once been stolen, WWJ-TV reports.

None of this was disclosed to Salais, and when she tried to return the SUV, the dealer refused, her lawsuit claims. Salais is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

It's not clear what kind of warranty Salais' car came with. But in used car sales, most states hold dealers responsible under an "implied warranty" if the car they sell doesn't meet reasonable quality standards.

Customers can also sue a dealer for fraud. Those cases focus on improper tactics used by the dealer to sell the car.

The dealer in Salais' case claims he did nothing wrong. "There's definitely a smell, but it wasn't there when we sold the car," he told WWJ-TV on Monday.

But late Tuesday, the dealer agreed to exchange Salais' SUV for another one -- though he still denies that a dead body caused the odor. He claims documents included in Salais' suit were fraudulent, and didn't pass the smell test.

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