Philadelphia Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Blog

Signs to look for when buying a used car

For many citizens of Pennsylvania, buying a used car might be an ideal situation. For one thing, people shopping for a specific make will be able to find it at a lower price than if it were brand new. Opting for a used car often means that car buyers can go for a better model than they had originally had in mind. With a used car, car owners don't have to worry about depreciation as much as someone who just bought a brand-new car off the lot.

All that being said, car shoppers need to look out for used cars that will be more trouble than they are worth, and there are several telltale signs to spot them. For example, a car with mismatched or poorly maintained tires can give people a general idea of how the car has been treated overall. More importantly, if a car shopper feels that the car odometer has been fiddled with, they should walk away on the spot.

A couple experiences house damage when vehicle fails

Many drivers in Pennsylvania have purchased a car and found that not everything worked right. A Virginia couple who purchased a car with self-driving capabilities ended up with nightmarish results. The owners are now suing the car manufacturer.

The couple spent more than $100,000 for a new electric vehicle. It was advertised as having two auto driving features. The first feature claimed that the car could be moved while the operator was outside the car. With the key or phone app, the driver could move the car from the garage to the driveway. This was referred to as Summons. A parking assist feature, or Autopark, claimed that the car could be parked remotely.

Avoiding a lowball offer on a trade-in

For most Americans, a car is a necessity. It’s how you get to work, school, social activities and everything else you do. While it can be fun to think about buying a new car, the process of trading in an old one can be tiresome.

The transaction of buying one car turns into two transactions, and you are left wondering whether either of the deals you agreed to is a good one.

Lemon laws are designed to protect consumers

It can be disheartening for a Pennsylvania resident to spend their hard earned money on an automobile only to suffer through repeated vehicular malfunctions. Making things even more frustrating is when the dealership does nothing to fix the problem. The buyer may feel like they have to swallow the loss. However, this is where lemon laws come into effect.

Lemon laws have been specifically designed to protect consumers from dealerships knowingly selling vehicles that are defective. Customers may have the right to a full refund or complete replacement if the automobile they purchased is too defective to be fixed, especially after they have taken the vehicle to be repaired multiple times.

Tips for inspecting a used vehicle

Those who want to buy used cars in Pennsylvania should have them inspected prior to signing any purchase paperwork. This is because a buyer agrees to take on any problems that the vehicle has after the transaction is final. It's important to note that some efforts to repair a car or truck can be found just by looking at the vehicle carefully.

For instance, if the paint job looks wrong or the body has large dents in it, that could be a sign that there are larger issues to be found. Ideally, a buyer will get a used car history report on any vehicle that he or she wants to buy. However, it is important to note that even doing that won't necessarily clue an individual to problems that it may have. Typically, a used car report won't list any repairs that were made without going through an insurance company.

Car warranty scams

Drivers in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation should be wary about phone calls or letters about their car's warranty. A company in Miami used robocalls to make victims believe that they were being contacted by a manufacturer or car dealer about extended warranty offers. The Federal Trade Commission says that it is refunding roughly $4 million to about 6,000 people who fell for the scam.

The products that were sold did not provide the level of coverage that customers were promised. Those who bought service contracts said that they could not get refunds for the $1,300 to $2,900 that they had spent. Companies that sell these service contracts often use pressure tactics to get people to buy. They may claim that an offer is only good for the day, or they promise that the customer has time to cancel the contract after it has been purchased.

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:

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