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Woman says dealer fraud left her with flood-damaged car

Purchasing a used vehicle is often a milestone, especially for those who have been struggling to get their lives back on track. Having a vehicle means no longer having to rely on public transportation or friends for rides to work and for running errands. Taking on the burden of gas, insurance and maintenance can be a challenge, but if the car is in good condition, a California consumer may find he or she is able to manage the monthly payments. However, problems arise when an unsuspecting car buyer is the victim of dealer fraud.

One single mother in another state was hoping the purchase of a vehicle would be a turning point for her. After losing her job, she went to a local used car dealership and test drove a car that she intended to use for a job search. The dealer assured her the vehicle was in good condition, so she made the purchase. However, three days later, the car would not start.

Failure to reveal open recalls may not be dealer fraud

When a defect in a motor vehicle leads to the injury or death of a child, parents and community members understandably rush to find a reason. In some cases, dealer fraud is the reason a vehicle is sold with a defect. However, California consumers may be interested in knowing how much responsibility a used car dealer has in making repairs for autos under recall notice. A community in another state learned this information following a tragic accident that resulted in a child's death.

The teenager became trapped and suffocated when the rear bench of his family's minivan flipped forward and crushed him. The unusual circumstances surrounding the boy's death caused investigators to speculate whether the van had an outstanding recall. Although it did not, other used car owners began to look into potential recall notices, and some were shocked to find that they had purchased vehicles with numerous outstanding and unrepaired notices despite the dealers' claims of certified inspections.

ATV owners join class action citing defective recreational vehicl

Enthusiasts of all-terrain vehicles know they are fun and versatile, useful for off-road riding, racing or general utility purposes. Riding an ATV requires skill and caution, and while California does not require a license to operate one, some states do require special training. Nevertheless, training and skill may do little to prevent injury if the rider is on a defective vehicle. ATV owners from numerous states are seeking compensation through a class action lawsuit after a well-known ATV manufacturer apparently failed to address a dangerous defect.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission cited Polaris Industries, one of the largest manufacturers of ATVs, for failing to report an overheating issue in two of its popular models. CPSC fined Polaris over $27 million, but owners of the vehicles say this is not good enough. About 300,000 ATV owners have joined a lawsuit seeking undisclosed damages after the engines on their ATVs overheated and caught fire. At least three people died, and 30 or more suffered severe injuries.

Ease your concerns with a reliable car for your teen

It’s hard to believe that your kid is almost old enough to drive. It seems like just yesterday you were cheering as they took their first steps. Now you have a teenager who is eager to get behind the wheel. You talked to them about safe driving practices and set rules. Now you want to surprise them with their own set of wheels.

After much consideration, you decide that it will be best to buy them a used car. The car needs to be dependable, but a little wear and miles isn’t bad. As you shop for your teen’s new car, you will want to make sure that you do a full inspection to ensure that you understand the vehicle, it’s true value and any known issues.

Lemon law and careful inspection can protect used car buyers

Buying a used car often means taking on the problems of the vehicle's previous owners. The frustration for many California consumers is that those problems may not manifest themselves until a considerable amount of time has passed, perhaps mere days after the expiration of any dealer warranty. Savvy consumers must do their homework to avoid wasting money and time on a used vehicle that is no longer protected by the lemon law.

Examining cars on the lot of a used car dealership may seem like a game of chance. Even a test drive may not reveal hidden defects or damage. However, a close inspection can often divulge evidence that the vehicle was involved in an accident. Paint tones that don't match, door gaps that are not even, and hinges or locks that do not function properly may indicate the vehicle suffered serious damage at some point. A report from CarFax or VehicleHistory online should contain such information.

"As is" does not justify dealer fraud

Purchasing a used vehicle is always a risk, especially when the dealer offers no warranty. Even a vehicle that looks clean and sound and operates well on a test drive may have hidden defects that do not show up until after the California consumer has driven it for a while. One woman in another state fell victim to dealer fraud after purchasing a truck "as is." Without a warranty, she had no option but to take her complaint to civil court.

The case went to the highest court in the state, but each appeal found in favor of the woman who paid a used car dealer nearly $13,000 for a pickup truck. The woman had concerns about the check engine light and smoke coming from the exhaust during the test drive, but the salesman assured her they were easy fixes and even offered to make the repairs if she brought the truck back later in the week. He offered no warranty but assured the customer she could easily obtain a third-party warranty.

More manufacturers facing class actions for airbag defects

Airbags have long been a staple of safety in automobiles, allowing drivers and passengers to avoid impact with hard surfaces of the vehicle in the event of a collision. Airbags are installed in many places within a car, most prominently in the steering mechanism and dash boards. Recently, many California car owners have watched with concern as auto manufacturers across the world scramble to remedy the dangerous situation created by defects in airbags.

The deadly problem came to light just prior to the unprecedented recall of 50 million vehicles in 2014. The vehicles contained airbags with Takata inflators that apparently spontaneously exploded, killing 22 people across the world and injuring 180 others with pieces of metal shrapnel. Several class action lawsuits have recently been filed, accusing General Motors, Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz of failing to act when they knew the problem existed over a decade earlier.

California consumer scores major legal victory over CarMax

When buying a used car from a dealership, it makes sense that a consumer would assume they’re purchasing a safe vehicle. After all, many used auto retailers boast of employing thorough safety inspections on their inventory, ensuring that the car leaving their lot isn’t a “lemon.” Unfortunately, however, not all dealers are honest, and that can mean potentially dangerous problems for car shoppers.

CarMax, the nation’s largest used auto dealer, recently came under fire for such dishonesty. Tammy Gutierrez of Bakersfield, Calif. had previously brought suit against the retailer for selling her a 2008 Hyundai Elantra with an unrepaired safety recall. After CarMax pushed back, the suit was dismissed, though she continued her fight. Now a California state appellate court has ruled that her complaint is valid, and this landmark decision could have a significant impact on the used car industry going forward.

Do dealer fraud protections apply to private car sales?

Shopping for a used car can be challenging, especially for someone who knows little about the workings of a car's major systems. Many in California rely on the advice and promises of used car dealers or the labels that assure a vehicle is certified. However, what guarantees does a consumer have when purchasing a car from a private seller? Do the protections against dealer fraud apply in those situations?

Unfortunately, in most cases, a person buying a car from a newspaper ad or an online trading site may not have recourse to many options if the car turns out to be a lemon. In fact, a vehicle sold in "as is" condition typically carries no warranties, whether expressed or implied. An exception to this would be if the vehicle is sold with a sales contract that includes guarantees about the car's condition. Additionally, some used cars may still be protected by the manufacturer's warranty, and this is an inquiry a consumer should make when considering the purchase of a privately-owned vehicle.

Lemon law invoked for water in cab of pickup

The purchase of a new vehicle can be an exciting event, especially if a consumer has made satisfying purchases from the same auto manufacturer in the past. Trading in an older, faithful vehicle for an upgraded model is often a leap of faith, but many California vehicle owners do so to avoid the cost and bother of repairs that often begin to arise as cars or trucks age. One man in another state made such a trade and regretted his decision within 10 days of his purchase. Subsequently, he had to invoke his state's lemon law.

Although the man was driving an older vehicle, it had given him no serious issues to that point. Nevertheless, he traded it in for a new Ford F-450 pickup because of the vehicle's towing capacity. Just over a week later, he discovered the interior of his new truck was saturated, so he took the truck back to the dealership. Mechanics there located a service bulletin from the Ford company indicating that trucks of this make and model have a tendency to experience water leaks because of defective sealing around a lamp gasket.

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