(WSVN) - He bought a used car, which he thought was in good shape. Then he found out it was missing one thing — airbags — and the salesman failed to mention that. Is it legal to sell a car without airbags in Florida? Let’s find out from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Every entrepreneur sees a need and then comes up with an idea.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “I decided to venture out on my own, and I started a mobile car washing business.”

Jean had the trailer. All he needed was a way to hook it up and haul it.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “I can’t provide a service if I can’t get to you.”

He then went to a small used car lot and found what he was looking for.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “I thought the car was a great car. I thought it was a great price. I thought I couldn’t beat it.”

The new businessman made the down payment, hooked up his trailer and went to work, busting his behind.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “We’ve washed, I think, in a day, probably like 12 cars. For somebody as small as me to work that much, it’s really cool.”

His 2018 work car was also used as a family car.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “I put my family in the car. I’ve had my little brother’s twin girls in the car.”

Everything was great … till the power steering froze and Jean took it to a repair shop.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “They tell me, ‘It’s $3,000 to fix the power steering, and oh, yeah, you don’t have any airbags. There’s no airbags in the car. You’ve been driving the car with no airbags.'”

When Jean bought the car, the airbag light was on, and the salesman never told him the car did not have airbags.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “I would not buy any car that doesn’t have any airbags.”

Finding out he had been taking his family in a car with no airbags shook Jean.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “We could have died, so the question would be, can a used car dealership sell me a car without airbags? I think the answer is no.”

Jean thinks it’s illegal to sell a car without airbags. What does the law think, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “In some states, it’s illegal to sell a car without an airbag without disclosing it, but not in Florida. Here it’s legal to not disclose that the car does not have airbags. However, if the customer asks, the seller must admit it. If they lie, then it’s deceptive, and you get your money back, but in Jean’s case, he didn’t ask. Therefore the dealer doesn’t have to return his money.”

The dealer wouldn’t talk to us, but we checked the Carfax website and saw this. Bad news: there has been an airbag deployment reported, meaning it was likely the car was in an accident.

While some dealers will replace the airbags, most won’t.

Howard Finkelstein: “It’s legal to drive a car in Florida without airbags, but it’s not safe. If you are about to buy a vehicle or have bought one, to determine if it has been in an accident and the airbags deployed, make sure you check that website at wsvn.com under this Help Me Howard story.”

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “So, right now, I’ve just been loaning cars, basically doing everything in my power just to keep afloat.”

Right now, Jean is using his father’s truck to stay in business, while a car he is still paying for just sits there while he saves money to buy airbags.

Jean R. Jean-Baptiste: “I’m just doing everything in my power just to stop this from happening to somebody else.”

We say it far too often on Help Me Howard: legally, they can do it, but morally, it’s wrong to do what the dealer did to Jean.

Besides checking the link below to see if the used car has been in an accident and the airbags deployed, make sure you get a warranty when you buy it to protect you. Never buy a car as is, ’cause if something is wrong, you are out of luck.

Come across someone who is a real airbag? Need to deploy someone to check them out? Contact us. It’s no accident we get things done, ’cause we like to buckle up and help.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Carfax Airbag Safety Check

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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