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.
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.
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.
Many California consumers enter the used car buying process with the assumption that their dealer will treat them dishonestly. Accepting that there is no way to avoid dealer fraud is a sad statement on the image of car sellers. While many car dealers pride themselves on their high standards and ethical practices, the ones who mislead and take advantage of vulnerable customers continue to make it necessary for some consumers to seek legal assistance.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Consumers in California are using online sources more often when considering large purchases, such as vehicles. Going to a dealer's website allows them to browse the inventory without pressure, compare vehicles and seek the best prices. More often, dealers are confronted with educated customers who have done their research, know what they want and are not interested in a long afternoon of wandering through the rows of vehicles. This has resulted in an increase in a familiar type of dealer fraud known as bait and switch.
California consumers may be naturally wary of used car dealers because of the way TV and movies often portray them as dishonest and untrustworthy. Most dealers of previously owned vehicles run honest businesses and strive to win customer loyalty through service and integrity. However, it seems like there are still those car sellers who attempt to take the easy way by using dealer fraud to earn their money.