• 57'
  • Author : Bertrand Bolzinger
  • 18-11-2018
  • Master : 2789


Every year, the market in second-hand vehicles hits new highs. Last year, around six million cars changed hands. However, without knowing it, you may be behind the wheel of a wreck on wheels. Over recent years scandals are the increase. In 2015, 5,000 seriously damaged used cars were poorly repaired and sold by unscrupulous garages, abetted by crooked assessors. In 2017, 1,000 dangerous vehicles were recalled by the Interior Ministry. These crimes have already caused the death of one 19-year-old. So, we wanted to find out if we could still purchase and safely drive a second-hand car. Our investigation reveals how assessors, garages, vehicle examiners and even car thieves… still manage to put thousands of dangerous vehicles back on the road every year…

Over several months, we followed the investigation conducted by a gendarmerie squad specializing in cars. In their sights they have an assessor who is believed to have authorized the return to the market of nearly 2,000 dangerous vehicles. And when the gendarmes run a close inspection, they discover wrecks on wheels: holes in the floor, poorly-welded bodies, bent chassis, badly fitted rear drives… in a collision these cars would have folded like cheap tin cans. Their owners are left with cars only fit for the breaker’s yard. As a precaution, the gendarmes are obliged to withdraw these vehicles from circulation: “You have to tell yourselves that we’ve saved your lives.”

In two years, the fraudster assessor examined 1874 cars. That’s three times the average number by his colleagues. The investigators suspect him of being in cahoots with garages. This assessor finally agreed to talk to us. He assures us that he checks the vehicles three times, as the law requires, but in a speedy way: “I believe a proper 15-minute inspection is quite sufficient.”

We also met Franck. His speciality is stealing cars to repair others that are seriously damaged. Normally, it is the assessors who are supposed to detect this sort of scam, but Franck can be very persuasive. “You just need to slip the assessors a little extra! You give them three hundred Euros and there’s no need to show the invoices for the car’s replacement parts.”

When the assessor fails to do his job, the vehicle test is the last line of defence against wrecks on wheels. But, once again, there’s a flaw here. Using a hidden camera, we attended the vehicle inspection of an old car that had failed its previous test. And you will see how we came away with a successful test report.

An investigation into the golden opportunities that could drive you straight to the graveyard.

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