Hazards in Buying a Used Car

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📅 Published on December 24, 2009

"Hazards in Buying a Used Car"

Written by

Estimated reading time — 3 minutes

A 1998 powder blue Ford Taurus isn’t anyone’s choice for a vehicle, but it was what I ended up choosing at the lot. It wasn’t a bad car; not too many miles, recently replaced tires, and it was cheap. My only real complaint is that the previous owner had seriously gone overboard with air fresheners; the whole interior reeked of vanilla and pine. The dealer, real nice guy, said he was cutting me a deal. Told me that they were having trouble moving this one off the lot, explained that no one seemed to be interested. I guess I’m less picky than average, because the car looked fine to me, so a check and a handshake later I was driving home. That’s when the strangeness started.

I hadn’t noticed it during the complimentary test drive I had been given, but there was a lump in the padding of the seat, right in the small of my back. It wasn’t enough to make driving uncomfortable, so I assumed the foam was coming loose under the fabric and let it go. The car was a decade old, after all. For about two weeks I drove the car like that, to and from work, picking up groceries and stuff like that. The lump was pushed to the back of my mind, and I had pretty much gotten used to it. Then it moved.

At first I thought I was imagining things; foam padding doesn’t squirm around, obviously, and it had just been the slightest feeling on my back that set me off. But no, as I kept driving it became clear that the seat had shifted, it definitely felt different against my spine. At this point I thought maybe this is what was wrong initially with the seat; that maybe the loose foam had shifted when I first got the car. Once I got home, I decided, I would examine it in more detail.

By the time I got into my driveway the lump was downright irritating, so I hopped out of my seat and began to probe the fabric with my fingers. Whatever was in there, I quickly noticed, it wasn’t foam padding. The consistency was thicker than foam, almost gelatinous, and there was hard pieces inside it that felt almost like stone. I couldn’t make it out at the time, but the shape of the thing was familiar, too. Confirming my suspicions, I also noted for the first time a long seam in the seat that someone had stitched up. The previous owner must have stuck something in there. I hopped back in to take the car to the dealer and complain. This is the sort of thing a salesman should tell you, you know? Maybe they just didn’t know about it; I hadn’t seen it at first, either.

I was about halfway to the dealership when the thing in the seat began writhing around. Not a shift like before, but actively crawling underneath the fabric. If you can imagine the feeling of something worming its way across your lower back, you can probably replicate my reaction. The number on the speedometer doubled.

I nearly ruined those recently replaced tires swerving into the dealership parking lot. It didn’t take long to find the man who had sold me the car, and even less time to grab him by the shirt sleeve and stammer out what had happened. He was surprised by my story but strangely receptive (more than I would be if some punk teenager started rambling about squirming car seats), and came back with me to the car, pulling out a pocket utility knife as we walked. As we cut the fabric of the seat open, the stench that spewed out almost literally knocked us back out of the car, but what we smelled didn’t make either of our stomachs turn nearly as bad as what we saw.

Inside the seat, under the fabric, we found a half-rotten human hand.


Credited to Tekkactus.

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