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Dealer fraud begins at auction houses

When trading in one vehicle to buy a newer one, a California car owner will typically clean it thoroughly, make minor repairs and try to present it to the dealer in the most attractive condition possible. However, after trading in a car, the previous owner will rarely see his or her old vehicle on the same car lot. In fact, the peculiar way in which car dealers obtain their inventory provides a perfect cover for examples of dealer fraud.

Used car dealers frequently buy the cars they sell from wholesale auction houses. Those who have experience in used vehicle transactions keep tabs on where certain makes and models sell best, and they send those vehicles to that location. Pickups, for example, sell better in rural areas, but sports cars are in demand in big cities.

Changes occur after auto defect class actions

When a consumer is injured by a product or service, he or she may feel there is little to do about it. However, if several consumers suffer injuries from a similar problem, they may unite to seek compensation for their damages. This is a particularly effective course of action when dealing with the automotive industry. Recent auto defect class actions have brought serious dangers to the attention of the public and have prompted auto manufacturers to take action to improve the safety of their vehicles.

A California judge recently ruled in favor of plaintiffs, allowing them to proceed with action against Fiat Chrysler, who attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed. The lawsuit alleges that the car company knew about a serious defect in the powertrain control module in one of their vehicle models but kept the information from the public. The defect in the vehicle causes it to stall, sometimes while traveling at 60 mph.

When new vehicles are not reliable, the lemon law helps

California consumers in the market for a car may have definite reasons for choosing a new car over a pre-owned vehicle. While used cars may be cheaper up front, many car owners do not want to deal with the cost and inconvenience of frequent repairs that often go hand-in-hand with owning a used vehicle. Recent reports show that the purchase of a new vehicle does not always result in carefree ownership, and an owner of a new car may have to call upon the state's lemon law for support.

A recent Consumer Reports survey shows that about half of drivers in the market for a vehicle have specific things in mind. These car buyers are looking for a vehicle that will spare them the cost and inconvenience of repairs and maintenance, relieve them of the worry of breaking down, and offer a warranty. This wish list leads many to explore new car options over used cars. However, many new cars come with their own sets of problems, especially when they are in the early years of production.

Report car problems, ignite a life-saving recall

Purchasing a vehicle may represent an exciting time in your life. Perhaps you are buying from an expensive brand you have coveted since you could drive, or perhaps you require a larger car for your growing family. In any circumstance, you hold the right to feel safe in your vehicle.

Cars go through extensive testing to become available in the market, but some models sneak past minor qualifications, resulting in major impacts. Thousands of recalls occur every year, but how are problems discovered and reported?

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of dealer fraud

Selling vehicles is a difficult job, especially now that consumers can use the internet to research what they want and even make purchases online. While many reputable car salespeople in California find creative and practical ways to entice people to make a purchase, others use more underhanded tactics. Consumers on the hunt for a new or used vehicle would benefit from knowing some common examples of dealer fraud and how to avoid getting ripped off at the car lot.

One of the first factors a car shopper looks for is low mileage. A consumer may be willing to pay more for a car with lower mileage than one of the same make and model with a higher odometer reading. Deceptive car dealers have numerous ways to reverse the odometer to read a lower mileage, so consumers would be wise to check the original title and any service records on the vehicle. Carfax reports are not always updated in a timely manner, so it is always a good idea to get the opinion of a trusted independent mechanic.

Auto defect class actions may result from auto fires

It is not unusual for auto manufacturers to keep from the public information about potential dangers in their vehicles. After all, if California consumers learned that a defect or malfunction in a particular make or model is a threat to their safety, the reputation of the company will certainly suffer. When enough car owners seek legal help, they may combine their complaints into auto defect class actions so that more plaintiffs may seek relief in a single case.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently received information that over 300 Kia and Hyundai owners filed complaints with the Center for Auto Safety. The CAS has petitioned the NHTSA, asking the agency to investigate reports that certain models are experiencing fires even though they have not been involved in accidents. In fact, one Sonata owner returned to his car after shopping to find it overcome with flames resulting from an electrical short.

What happens to lemon law buybacks in California?

For California consumers, it is quite frustrating to purchase a new vehicle only to have to return to the dealer for repairs soon afterward. While a vehicle is still under warranty, certain repairs may be covered. However, there comes a time when enough is enough. If the car requires the same repair or numerous repairs within a certain period of time, it may fall under the Lemon Law.

Every state has some form of lemon law allowing consumers to demand that the manufacturer replace or buy back a vehicle that requires unreasonable repairs within a short period of time after purchase. The amount of protection varies among the states, but one area in which there is a vast discrepancy is in the laws regarding what happens to lemon law vehicles that the manufacturer buys back from consumers. California is one of the few states that require a reacquired vehicle to carry a clear branding.

Millions of deadly airbags still unrepaired

Airbags are a crucial part of every car's safety system. Ironically, they're also the subject of the largest auto-parts recall in history, which is currently underway.

While dealerships have already replaced millions of these defective airbags free of charge, that's only a small fraction of the total need. Literally millions of people are unwittingly driving these dangerous cars every day. If you're one of them, you could be in serious jeopardy.

Veteran officer charged with dealer fraud scam

When California car dealers acquire vehicles that have been damaged or totaled, there are certain procedures they must follow in order to resell those vehicles to consumers. Most importantly, they must make critical repairs to ensure the vehicle runs safely. The dealers then apply for salvage titles for those refurbished autos so that consumers and insurers understand the vehicle has a history of damage. If a dealer does not follow the proper steps, consumers may fall victim to dealer fraud.

When applying for a salvage title, the dealer must obtain the signature of a law enforcement officer who has inspected the vehicle. However, at one dealership in another state, that very important inspection was skipped by the officer who signed many salvage titles. Police conducted an investigation that led them to a 31-year veteran of the police department. The officer apparently regularly signed multiple salvage titles at a time without ever seeing the respective vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler vehicle defect leads to another recall

California consumers have several viable options for seeking compensation or reimbursement when their vehicles fail to live up to standards. When numerous consumers experience the same serious vehicle defect, they may band together in a class action lawsuit, especially after reports of injuries or death result from the defect. One auto maker is attempting to avoid such a lawsuit by issuing a recall of nearly five million vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler has received complaints about the cruise control system in vehicles manufactured between 2014 and 2018, including certain models of Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram cars and trucks. Drivers reports that, under certain circumstances, the cruise control refuses to deactivate and may accelerate automatically. Fiat Chrysler claims the problem results only when acceleration occurs at the same time that a certain electrical network short circuits. The driver may then be unable to cancel cruise control without repeatedly pumping the brakes or placing the vehicle in park.

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