Philadelphia Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Blog

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.

Should you buy a used rental car?

Buying a used car is often a great way to get the best value for your money. While in the market for a new vehicle, you may gravitate toward your local used car dealership. However, you may want to consider other options, such as a used rental car.

Consumers across Pennsylvania can come across great deals when considering purchasing a used rental car. Whether buying direct from a company like Enterprise, Hertz or Avis or buying from a used car lot, you may become mesmerized by low prices, newer models and the promise of a well-maintained vehicle. However, when are used rental cars as great a deal as they seem?

Consumers struggle with defective vehicles

When people go to a dealership in Pennsylvania or around the country to buy a new car, they expect to walk away with a reliable vehicle in excellent condition, fresh off the production line. However, too many buyers find themselves facing serious defects that are difficult or impossible to repair. In short, they find that they have purchased a lemon. Despite their rights under the law, many car buyers find that dealers and manufacturers are reluctant to buy back their vehicles or reach a fair settlement under the provisions of the applicable lemon law.

One Florida woman purchased a 2018 Hyundai Sonata SE brand new from the lot, but found herself relying on rental cars for five months. She said that the car spent more time in the shop than it did with its owners. The vehicle experienced a range of problems, from the radio failing to function to ongoing and serious engine issues. At one point, she said, the car began "shaking like a hurricane" and failed to accelerate, forcing her to pull off of a major highway to find safety.

Some Ford Explorer owners allege carbon monoxide issues

Some Ford Explorer owners believe the vehicle is leaking a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide. However, the company has denied that there is anything wrong with the model in Pennsylvania or any other state.

After several police officers who drove an Explorer Interceptor became ill, the problem was linked to a carbon monoxide leak. However, since then, thousands of Ford Explorer drivers have reported similar problems. One man was found to have toxic levels of carbon monoxide in his system after he suffered from fatigue, migraines and other symptoms. The man commuted 60 miles daily in his Ford Explorer. Another owner said he would sue the company under lemon laws, but he is now negotiating with the company for a buyback. Ford says it has bought back around 100 vehicles as a goodwill gesture.

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.

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