Philadelphia Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Blog

Did you know that new cars often have damage?

When you buy a brand-new car from a dealership, you never assume that something is wrong with it. Shockingly, around 20 to 30 percent of new cars are damaged before being purchased.

So, how do dealerships get away with it? How do customers fail to notice? Is it even legal to sell a damaged car?

Staying protected from identity theft

Data security is a growing concern among corporations and private individuals in Pennsylvania. This is especially true of consumer credit information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed to standardize the means through which everyday consumers' financial and credit history is stored, collected and distributed.

In the United States, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are the three major credit reporting agencies that are charged with distributing consumer credit information. These companies process tremendous volumes of information they receive from smaller subsidiaries. Because these companies do not generally work directly with consumers, people who regularly check their credit reports often find errors that require correction. Sometimes, errors occur as a result of typos or outdated data. However, in some cases, erroneous entries on a credit report may indicate identity theft. This is a very serious offense in which an unauthorized person uses someone else's credit and financial data to make fraudulent purchases.

How the law protects consumers

There are a variety of laws on the books that aim to protect consumers in different ways. For instance, Pennsylvania consumers may be covered by a lemon law that allows them to return a defective vehicle. Other laws prevent businesses from using deceptive advertising to entice consumers to buy a product or service. Furthermore, bait-and-switch tactics are generally prohibited. This occurs when a company advertises a product only to not have it available to consumers. In its place, a company tries to sell another product that is more expensive.

Credit reporting agencies have standards that they must abide by that are designed to protect consumers. For instance, if there is an error on a credit report, an individual could challenge that error. In the event that a negative item is placed on a credit report, it can only stay there for a period of several years before falling off.

When should you buy a car?

Shopping for a car is stressful and few of us enjoy the process. It’s even worse if we feel like we aren’t getting a good deal.

Luckily, there are certain times of the year when buying a car is beneficial for the shopper rather than the seller. Here are five times when buying a car is a good idea:

Why dealers treat customers different after a sale

Car buyers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are generally treated well when they are visiting a dealer to buy a car. However, they tend to find that they aren't given the same treatment when bringing in the vehicle for service. Part of this is because the dealer isn't responsible for replacing a car if it is defective. Instead, it is up to the manufacturer to back them or replace them.

Generally speaking, lemon laws apply when a car is in the shop for 30 days or more in the first year of ownership. The law may also be triggered when there have been four or more attempts to resolve a single issue. In addition to a lack of responsibility for taking care of a defective vehicle, dealers may fear getting paid for service performed under warranty.

Reliability problems can plague new cars

When Philadelphia drivers head to the dealership to buy a new car, they often expect to receive the best reliability and quality available. In one Consumer Reports survey, car buyers emphasized that reliability was a primary driver of new car purchases. People often expect that when they buy a new car, they'll avoid problems associated with used cars, including maintenance costs and repair downtime. However, many new cars suffer from significant problems, especially newer models.

When automobile companies introduce a new model, they may not be aware of all of the issues that can crop up in mass production. Older model years often prove themselves to be far more reliable. This is not only the case with inexpensive cars; even luxury, high-end vehicles can have growing pains. Over 2,000 drivers participated in the survey, and many listed advantages to buying new cars. While 51 percent said that they wanted a strong warranty, 46 percent said they didn't want to lose time on repairs. Another 43 percent were concerned about breaking down in a used car. While some cars may have annoying but easily fixed or minor problems, others may have more serious safety defects.

Avoid buying a hurricane-damaged car

Cars damaged by hurricanes are possibly being sold to car buyers in Pennsylvania. State lemon laws protect consumers from manufacturing defects by requiring manufacturers to buy back cars after a certain number of repairs have been attempted. Consumers should take steps to check for hurricane damage before they purchase a vehicle since lemon law requirements only apply to new vehicles.

A study published by CarFax shows that there are nearly 500,000 vehicles on the roads that have been damaged by hurricanes. The highest number of vehicles with flood damage has been reported in New York. Miami comes in second, and Philadelphia comes in third.

Why would a dealer want to sell you a damaged vehicle?

With how many drivers are on the roads these days, car dealerships continue to give millions of people vehicles to join the other motorists. However, not all of these transactions will include a properly functioning vehicle. Thankfully, there are more people aware of the possibility of a faulty vehicle these days.

While some dealerships sell a defective car by complete accident, some trick or give customers these problematic vehicles on purpose. Many customers question why they would do such a thing when the customer could file a lawsuit against the dealership and put them at both legal and financial risk. It is imperative to be aware of these motivations before you head into the dealership to pick up your vehicle.

How warranty laws protect consumers

The Magnuson-Moss Act and the Federal Trade Commission provide protections to those buying products in Pennsylvania and other states. For example, a copy of the warranty must be made available to buyers prior to making a purchase. It must be written in a manner that is clear and easy to read. Furthermore, the party that is offering the warranty must disclose whether it is a full warranty or if it is limited in any way.

If a seller or other party grants a warranty, it must be able to abide by its terms. Offering a warranty that cannot be fulfilled is a violation of the law. The same is true for warranty terms that are misleading or deceptive to consumers. An implied warranty cannot be disclaimed or modified if there is a written warranty available. However, it may be possible for the party offering protection to limit the implied warranty for the duration of the written warranty.

About lemon vehicles

Every year, thousands of defective motor vehicles in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States are bought back by manufacturers because of repair issues. Despite popular belief, the titles of these vehicles are not marked to indicate that they are lemons. The manufacturers will resell the same vehicles, even if they have not been repaired. These vehicles could then be back on the roads and back in need of repair.

There are lemon laws in every state in the country, and they establish minimum standards for having vehicles repaired under warranty. For vehicles with defects that cannot be repaired after multiple attempts or within a certain time period, the manufacturer is required to buy the vehicle back or give the consumer a non-defective vehicle in its place.

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