Philadelphia Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Blog

Suing used car dealerships

People in Pennsylvania who purchased a used vehicle may have legal recourse if the vehicle is not in the condition the dealership said it was. However, there are certain factors that can affect what steps the buyers can take to remedy the situation, whom they can sue and whether pursuing legal action is the wisest option.

The laws regarding dealer obligations and warranties vary from state to state. Whether the seller was an individual or dealership is also a factor. These kinds of details are important when it comes to meaningfully assessing claims and can make a significant impact in a legal case.

Car dealership in legal trouble for failing to follow up

"I thought, OK, I trade in the car, I get a new car, they pay off the lien and that's the end of it." This dealership customer became disappointed, disillusioned and frustrated when he realized that buying a car at a name-brand dealership doesn’t always work as it should.

When he received repeated phone calls from the bank holding his old auto loan, the man realized the dealership that sold him his new car had never paid off the car he had traded in. From the banks’ point of view, he now owned two cars and he watched his credit score plummet by 140 points before he knew what was happening.

Obtaining service after a dealer closes

It is not uncommon for vehicle owners in Pennsylvania to spend time at a dealership for routine service or repairs. However, taking a vehicle for service got much harder for Volvo owners in Bakersfield, California. The company decided to shut down the dealership thereafter the owners of the franchise refused to spend millions of dollars on a new facility. When the dealership where a person buys a car goes out of business, that individual has several options.

The first option is to visit another dealership to get service or have work done that is covered by a warranty. Another option is to visit any professional who is qualified to perform service on a given make and model of vehicle. However, Volvo says that anyone who goes to an independent service station would need to pay the cost of the repair and then seek reimbursement from the company.

What to do before buying a used car

It typically costs thousands of dollars to buy a used car from a dealer or private party in Pennsylvania. Therefore, it is important for a buyer to know how to evaluate a vehicle in an effort to protect his or her investment. Ideally, an individual will research a vehicle to learn more about any open recalls, how much it's worth and how much it could cost to maintain.

As part of the research process, people should ask the seller for any maintenance records he or she may have. This will make it easier to determine if the vehicle has any recurring issues that may crop up in the future. A used vehicle history report can also provide more information as to whether a vehicle has experienced significant damage in the past. It is also a good idea to have a car inspected by a mechanic prior to making a purchasing decision.

Be cautious of signs of damage to new cars

Buying a new car is exciting. You might spend hours doing research on a vehicle’s features, reliability, customizable options and more. When the day finally arrives, you happily drive your car out of the dealership parking lot and back to your Philadelphia home.

However, you may be shocked to discover damage to your brand new vehicle either immediately or a few days later. Even brand new vehicles are not exempt from suffering damage, with some issues occurring even before a driver gets behind the wheel.

Rolling back an odometer is against the law

When buying a vehicle in Pennsylvania or any other state, it is important to verify that the figure on the odometer is correct. This is because some may engage in a process called clocking, which means that they fraudulently lower the number on the odometer. Individuals may be able to do a VIN check to determine if their desired vehicle has been tampered with.

Carfax and a variety of other companies offer this service for a fee of up to $39. Those who are looking to sell a vehicle should know that intentionally tampering with an odometer is a federal offense. Sellers are legally required to tell a buyer if the number on the odometer is not correct. Individuals who are victims of fraud or believe that they have been taken advantage of can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or watchdog groups in their state.

When a dealer sells a recalled used car

People may not know that some Pennsylvania car dealers might not inform them if there is a recall for a used vehicle they are selling. This was the case for one man whose Ford F-150 had a faulty cruise control switch. This resulted in the truck catching on fire while sitting in his driveway, igniting the garage door and his house.

The man said he would not have purchased the vehicle if he had known about the recall, but the dealer did not tell him. According to a representative with the Center for Auto Safety, it should not be legal for dealers to sell recalled vehicles, just as retailers are not permitted to sell recalled food or other products.

Auto dealership loan options and tricks

The search is over. You found the right car, at the right mileage and in your price range on a local lot. You’ve taken the car for a test drive. It’s been inspected. You negotiated an acceptable price. Now you find yourself in the finance and insurance manager’s office.

Finance and insurance games

Car repairs and the legal rights of vehicle owners

Even the most diligent car owner in Pennsylvania is likely to need repair work done at one time or another. It's not always easy for vehicle owners to know for sure if shortcuts were taken or if there were oversights with the work, at least not until something goes unexpectedly wrong once the vehicle is back in operation. Being more informed can help vehicle owners be aware of potential issues with car repairs.

With car repairs, there are three basic options: the dealership, general repair shops and auto repair chains. Each one has its pros and cons. As far as pricing goes, some statutes prohibit final costs from going over the estimated cost by a certain percentage. Some states go a bit further and provide guidelines for how labor costs need to be calculated by vehicle repair facilities. However, every state has laws against unfair and deceptive acts and practices, or UDAP, specific to vehicle repairs.

When debt collectors harass consumers

When people in Philadelphia face financial hard times, the situation may be exacerbated by the stress of debt collection calls or other harassment. Individuals may find their phones ringing at all hours of the day with calls from collection agencies seeking payment for past-due credit card bills, auto loans, mortgages or other debts. These calls can come on a mobile phone, a landline or even at a work number. In addition, the pressure created by these calls can lead to serious problems, including marital issues and employment concerns.

It is legal for debt collectors to pursue payment for an outstanding bill. However, harassment by collection agencies is prohibited by law. While many collectors aim to stay within the boundaries of the law, others cross the line into unlawful harassment. Many of the laws that aim to stop harassment primarily target third-party agencies that purchase debt rather than the original lender. It is important to determine who exactly is making the calls in order to take proper action. Collectors must identify themselves properly, name the source of the debt and inform the customer that he or she has the right to dispute or verify the debt.

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