DO NOT BE THE NEXT DEALERSHIP VICTIM
By: Barry L. Edzant, Esq.
I guess there is something in the air this time of year that possess some automotive dealerships to try to take advantage of their most important asset - you, the consumer. Lately, we have seen a wide variety of dealership misconduct. For instance, one local dealership sold our client a "Certified pre-owned vehicle" which had allegedly passed a vigorous inspection for safety, reliability, and quality. However, after the vehicle was purchased, it was later learned that the vehicle had been in a serious accident, was illegally modified, was unsafe, and was sold for thousands of dollars more than the vehicle’s true value. The dealership refused to cooperate with requests to take back the vehicle.
If you think you have a lemon and want to talk with experienced California lemon law attorneys, call the law office of Barry Edzant today at 661-222-9929.
Other types of dealer misconduct include false advertising, odometer rollbacks, selling a former daily use rental or salvaged vehicle without disclosure, selling a former "lemon" or unsafe vehicle without disclosure, and not honoring warranties. Unfortunately, you will probably not know you have these potential problems with the vehicles until you later discover it, usually by accident. The good thing is, you have recourse, although it may not come easy.
Vehicles qualify under the Lemon Law if the vehicle is under warranty and has had the same problem repaired more than four times, or in the alternative, the vehicle has been in repair for thirty days or more for any number of problems. If the problem concerns a "major safety" issue, you may now only need to have two repair attempts. If this should happen, you are entitled to a new replacement vehicle, or all or most of your money back.
If your vehicle falls under the other categories mentioned above, you are not only entitled to your money back, but the offending dealership may owe you additional damages for committing fraud against a consumer.
But as I am sure you have guessed, no dealership (at least none that I have found) voluntarily admits it has committed fraud! In fact, usually the dealerships plead ignorance of the non-disclosure and claim to have just made an honest mistake. While this is often the case, it also happens that the dealership thought it could get away with a non-disclosure. After all, doesn’t a dealership have easy access to DMV records, the best mechanics and auto body specialists, lawyers, advertising specialists, advisors, etc.
While you can rarely predict a lemon vehicle if you purchase the vehicle new, you can reduce the odds of a lemon or dealer misconduct on used vehicles by doing your homework. Prior to purchase, have any used vehicle carefully inspected by a certified mechanic and by a quality body shop, who can tell you if the vehicle has been in a serious accident. If it has been, don’t buy it! Go to www.carfax.com to see if the vehicle has a salvaged title. If you see that the title has been transferred more than two times, pass on it. Insist on a written warranty for any used car. Check Consumer Reports for which vehicles are reliable and which are not.
If despite your best efforts you still find that you have become a dealership victim, you should contact an attorney immediately. Self-help techniques to "unwind" a vehicle purchase are often more damaging than successful. Usually, the dealership will try to trade your problem vehicle for another one of its "certified pre-owned vehicles" which of course comes with new long term payment commitments on an overvalued vehicle.
Vehicles are major investments which are heavily relied upon to get you and your family safely to your destination. You have the right to be treated fairly, with complete honesty and integrity. Do not compromise your rights; and, most importantly, be a wise consumer.
Other lemon law articles that may be of interest:
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