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Dealer fraud ends in repossession of man's first car

When purchasing a used car, consumers often feel they have to take special precautions to avoid getting ripped off. There are countless ways in which an unscrupulous car dealer can take advantage of someone who has little knowledge about potential defects in a previously owned vehicle. Perhaps no one is more vulnerable to dealer fraud than a first-time car buyer. California consumers may be able to sympathize with the dilemma of one new owner.

The young man purchased his car from a dealer in another state and made his regular payments each month. To his dismay, when he received a Carfax report some months later, he discovered that the odometer reading on his car was 40,000 miles less than the Carfax report indicated. In fact, the details regarding the exact mileage were vague and confusing.

Protected by lemon law, consumers can be proactive

Purchasing a car is rarely the exciting party that TV commercials make it seem. In fact, many may procrastinate making the decision to trade in or buy because it typically means taking on a loan for something that quickly loses value. What can be even more frustrating is paying the money for a car only to find out it has a defect that costs more and more money when the owner makes repeated visits to the dealer for repairs. While consumers are protected by California's lemon law, it's always best to avoid buying a lemon in the first place.

Before hitting the car lots, consumers can educate themselves about some simple ways to examine vehicles they are considering purchasing. When looking under the hood, a consumer should see a relatively clean engine and battery, free from corrosion. Belts and hoses should not be stiff, worn or frayed, and there should be no evidence of leaking fluids. Consumers should check the oil and transmission fluid and know the proper levels and appearances of healthy fluids.

BMW recalls cars for potential seat belt hazard

Anyone in California who is considering purchasing a BMW i3 had better buckle up for news of the latest recall. In light of the many auto defect class action cases across the country, many involving companies that concealed the dangers from consumers, it may be refreshing to hear that BMW is recalling the i3 before its defect causes anyone injury. Refreshing or not, many recalls do not get word out to consumers in time and result in tragic accidents that lead to claims for legal recourse. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted crash tests on the i3 and found that a small adult female has a slightly higher than acceptable chance of suffering injuries if she is not wearing a seatbelt in the front passenger seat. An unbuckled woman who is about 5 feet tall and weighs around 110 pounds may suffer a neck injury in a frontal collision. However, the chances are only marginally above federal limits.

Dealer fraud takes advantage of slow Carfax reports

When a Los Angeles consumer needs a car, there are many choices. New or used, what make or model, and what options are some of the considerations a buyer must make. With dozens of car dealers in the city, a person may hope to come across a salesperson who is trustworthy, especially if the buyer is looking for a used car. However, consumers are learning that some car sellers have a slick, new way to commit dealer fraud.

Buyers of used cars often rely on Carfax reports to reveal to them any damage or defects the vehicle may have. What consumers may not realize is that Carfax reports may not be complete at the time they purchase a vehicle. In fact, some reports of damage may not show up on a Carfax report until a month or more after the consumer purchases the vehicle.

Another recall coming for Honda?

It’s bad enough for an automaker to have one recall, but two in a year for the same problem? That’s not great.

Earlier this year, Honda agreed to a settlement in a class action lawsuit over the Takata airbags in its vehicles. The airbags, which were installed in the cars of 19 auto manufacturers for numerous model years, were responsible for killing 16 people and injuring hundreds. It was the country’s largest recall, with 42 million vehicles affected.

How does the lemon law affect a car loan?

The purchase of a new car often means negotiations with dealers and lenders, adjustments to auto insurance policies, and seemingly endless papers to sign. Nevertheless, it may be worth it to drive home in a worry-free car. However, what happens when the owner of a new vehicle is forced to return to the dealer for multiple repairs? That owner may wonder how California lemon law will affect his or her car loan.

Lemon laws protect consumers from defective vehicles. After purchasing a new car, if the owner takes it back to the dealer numerous times for the same repair within a short period of time, that car may be a lemon. Although the average consumer may have to go through arbitration or litigation to get satisfaction, successful legal action may result in receiving a replacement or refund for the car.

Auto defect results in recall of 1 million BMW vehicles

A car fire can be a terrifying event, especially if one is driving in Los Angeles when the fire begins. However, recently, ABC news affiliates have been investigating car fires in vehicles that are parked. These mysterious fires occur in various models of BMWs, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has encouraged BMW owners to immediately report any engine fires. Although the car maker long denied there was an auto defect in its cars, the manufacturer recently recalled over a million vehicles.

Some of the issues in the recalled models released in the past six years involve heaters and heater valves. However, BMW still does not seem ready to admit that the design of the car is to blame for the 40 or more cars that have combusted. A number of the vehicles caught fire after have sat idle for days. Some customers who brought lawsuits against BMW after their vehicles burned were asked by BMW to sign confidentiality agreements as part of their settlements, further complicating the efforts to determine the cause of the fires.

False odometer reading may signal dealer fraud

The odometer reading on a car reveals a lot to a potential buyer. Vehicles that are driven long distances over the course of their lives tend to have major issues with worn components that can lead to expensive repairs and even the replacement of vital engine parts. Some California consumers may find it difficult to obtain financing for a car that has too many miles on it. Certainly, potential customers would be less willing to pay good money if the odometer reading is high, which is why some salespeople resort to dealer fraud to move high-mileage vehicles.

Odometer fraud occurs when a car dealer changes the odometer reading to show a lower mileage than the car has been driven. A dealer may also recondition the vehicle to hide any signs of wear and tear that may raise the suspicions of a customer. Dealers may purchase cars with high mileage cheaply at auctions, then clean them up and reset their odometers so they can sell them for a much higher price.

GM pays millions in auto defect class action settlement

The purchase of a new car can be exciting, especially if one has settled for used cars for many years. It can be frustrating to purchase a new car only to find it has auto defects that make it undrivable or even dangerous. Recent events have left many owners of GM cars scrambling to comply with recall notices. Unfortunately, some did not receive their notices before disaster struck.

A defective ignition switch resulted in seven separate recalls as the car manufacturer responded to complaints from across the country, including California. However, while the recalls were issued in 2014, recent investigations discovered that GM apparently knew about the defects almost 10 years earlier. The ignition switches had the tendency to turn themselves to the "off" position unexpectedly, shutting down the vehicle's electrical system, which controls steering, brakes and, in some cases, airbag deployment.

Lemon Law protects customers from irreparable defects

After making a major purchase like a new car, not many in California want to deal with the hassle of repairs. In fact, one reason why many consumers opt for new cars rather than used is because they want a reliable vehicle that will not cost them money to fix in addition to making car payments. Nevertheless, from time to time, a new car may bring frustration and inconvenience because it needs constant repairs. A vehicle like this may fall under California's Lemon Law.

The Lemon Law outlines the factors that qualify a car for lemon status. If a consumer's car is deemed to be a lemon, the law requires the dealer to buy back the vehicle or replace it. However, a car buyer who suspects his or her car is a lemon must follow the guidelines of the law carefully. Those who purchase a car to use as a family or business car may qualify if the car was purchased within an original warranty from the manufacturer. Any problem the buyer has with the car must occur within 18 months of purchase or before driving it 18,000 miles.

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