Philadelphia Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Blog

What to know about rebuilt cars

When buying a used car in Pennsylvania, it can be a good idea to look at the car's title. A clean title indicates that the vehicle has not experienced any major damage. It also means that the car has not had its odometer rolled back or otherwise tampered with. Cars that have major defects will be given salvage titles, which indicates that they are not necessarily safe to drive.

If a car that once had a salvage title has been repaired, it will be given a rebuilt title. It will only receive such a title after authorities in the state where it was granted have had a chance to inspect it. Typically, cars that have been rebuilt will sell for less than those that have not experienced significant damage. However, it can be possible to purchase rebuilt cars that are just as good as they were when they were first manufactured.

How to get started when removing an error from a credit report

A study that was performed by the Federal Trade Commission indicates that a quarter of consumers have identified errors on their credit report that could negatively affect their credit. In many cases, these errors can be fixed. Pennsylvania residents may be interested in learning the steps they need to take to fix credit report errors.

There are three categories of credit report errors. They include fraudulent accounts, identity errors and inaccurate account details. Some errors are benign, while others can be damaging and lead to a denial of credit or a person having their identity stolen.

Can you recognize the signs of auto dealer fraud?

Buying a new vehicle is a significant purchase. Depending on the type of vehicle you want and the extra features, you could have a serious price tag to consider. However, if you believe you have the financial ability to purchase the vehicle of your dreams, you may feel excited about taking such a step.

Of course, you likely want to get the best deal that you can on the vehicle, and you know that the car salesperson wants to make the most money possible. As a result, you need to have your wits about you when handling this type of transaction. Though you may be a bit wary of the dealer, you may not have expected a serious issue like auto dealer fraud to take place.

Protections under the state's lemon law

Buying a new car in Pennsylvania can be exciting. However, excitement can quickly turn into frustration when one discovers that they have purchased a lemon. Like other states, Pennsylvania has a lemon law to protect consumers when they purchase malfunctioning vehicles.

A vehicle is considered to be a lemon car when it has specific types of manufacturing defects while still new. These defects continue to persist even after repairs have been attempted. A lemon car is not an older vehicle with high miles. Instead, the defects must be present when the vehicle is new and appear immediately after the initial purchase.

Car buyers continue to struggle with defective Fords

Pennsylvania car buyers are among some of many across the country who have struggled with transmission problems in Ford Focus and Fiesta cars. Some people have sold their cars or repaired them, but others continue to deal with the costly aftermath of defective vehicles. One man says that he is still making payments on a Focus after five clutch replacements that were unsuccessful. He says that he drove the car home in reverse one time due to the failed transmission and traded it in, but he still owes money on the loan that he originally took out for the vehicle.

The man said that he bought the Focus because of a promotion that promised a low-interest rate on car loans for that specific vehicle, but he soon found himself facing serious problems. Only 16,000 miles after he began driving the car, the transmission failed. He says that he contacted Ford on multiple occasions, only to be told that his vehicle was out of warranty and did not qualify for a return or repair. However, he says that Ford knew that the vehicle was defective when it sold them and argues that the attractive interest rate was meant to offload problematic vehicles.

Did you really negotiate a better payment for your new vehicle?

You may enjoy looking for a vehicle. Even if it's used, it's new to you. Choosing the make and model, the options and the color all make the buying experience enjoyable. Then, unless you can walk into a dealership and pay cash or already have financing arranged with a lender, you will end up "negotiating" with the salesperson and the finance manager.

Buying a new or used vehicle may be one of the last places where bargaining and negotiating are part of the experience. Auto dealerships know this, so they do what they can to get as much money as they can out of you. To that end, the finance manager may engage in some "payment packing," which could end up costing you more per month than necessary.

Family ponders legal action over defective vehicle

The Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law provides relief for consumers when defects that impair the use, performance or safety of new vehicles arise during the first year or 12,000 miles of ownership. When problems develop in vehicles over a year old or with more than 12,000 miles on the odometer, consumers have fewer legal options. However, they can still pursue civil remedies by filing lawsuits against vehicle manufacturers or repair facilities.

This is the situation an Ohio family currently finds themselves in. The family purchased a GMC Acadia SUV that developed a shifting error more than a year after they purchased it. The dashboard would continue to show that the vehicle was in gear after it had been shifted into park. The family learned about the problem after receiving emails from the General Motors OnStar service. A GMC dealer replaced a sensor to ensure that the SUV's dashboard display updated correctly, but the problem persisted. Subsequent dealer visits also failed to address the issue.

Used car dealer facing federal fraud charges

Used car dealers in Pennsylvania can be fined or lose their business licenses for violating the state's consumer protection laws, and they may also face federal prosecutions when their illegal behavior is orchestrated using wire communications or conducted over state lines. This is the predicament that a former used car dealer in Wisconsin recently found himself in. The man was originally being investigated for fraud by the Brown County Sheriff's Office, but U.S. attorneys became involved when the scope of his activities became clear.

The man was charged with multiple counts of bank, wire and mail fraud following a three-year state and federal investigation. Prosecutors claim that he found his victims by offering to sell on consignment cars that had been advertised on Craigslist. The man is said to have then sold the vehicles without informing or paying the owners. He is also alleged to have produced counterfeit titles so that vehicle buyers could obtain bank loans.

Was your auto loan really approved before you left the dealer?

You should feel excitement when you purchase a vehicle. But you know that it involves some back and forth with the salesperson. Unless you pay cash for the vehicle, you will also have to deal with the financing department.

A good bit of the auto-buying experience feels like a game of tug of war, especially if you receive financing through the dealership. More than likely, you decided ahead of time how much of a down payment you could make, how much you were willing to pay a month and just how much vehicle you could afford. By the time you finished "negotiating" with everyone at the dealership, you felt satisfied and left with a vehicle and an auto loan.

Consumer-friendly lemon laws vary from state to state

A study ranking state lemon laws showed that Pennsylvania came in at 35. This may be interesting to consumers, especially since new vehicles cost about $36,000. With this amount of money on the line, consumers want to feel confident that they are able to return a vehicle that has major issues without being put through a frustrating process.

A defective car may produce problem after problem and can be compared to a nightmare that just won't go away. A lemon vehicle has been defined by some as a new vehicle that has manufacturing or design defects that impact the value of the vehicle or its safety. These defects usually cannot be repaired by the manufacturer.

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