Car shopping is important for auto buyers because it allows them to find a vehicle that meets their needs and fits within their budget. However, it’s important to be aware of potential scams that can occur during the car buying process.
One common scam is odometer fraud, where the seller alters the mileage on the vehicle to make it appear less used than it actually is. This can lead to the buyer paying more for a vehicle that has more wear and tear than they were led to believe. It’s important for buyers to thoroughly inspect the vehicle, check its history report, and verify the mileage to avoid falling victim to this scam.
What are the legal consequences of odometer fraud in Texas?
In Texas, odometer fraud is a criminal offense that can result in serious legal consequences. If someone is found guilty of odometer fraud, they may face fines, imprisonment, and civil liabilities. The fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000, and the imprisonment can be up to two years.
Additionally, the perpetrator may be required to pay restitution to the victim for the financial losses incurred due to the fraud. It is important to note that odometer fraud is considered a serious offense, and anyone found guilty may also face a damaged reputation and difficulty obtaining future employment or credit.
Odometer fraud is a serious issue that can affect car buyers. Signs of odometer fraud can include inconsistencies in the vehicle’s history report, such as a sudden drop in mileage, or excessive wear and tear on the vehicle despite low mileage. Another sign to watch for is a mismatch between the mileage displayed on the odometer and the overall condition of the vehicle.
To avoid being a victim of odometer fraud when car shopping, there are several things to watch for. These include:
- Checking the vehicle’s history report for any inconsistencies or red flags.
- Inspecting the vehicle’s overall condition and looking for signs of excessive wear and tear.
- Verifying the mileage listed on the odometer matches the vehicle’s age and condition.
- Looking for any signs that the odometer has been tampered with or replaced.
- Having a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle before making a purchase.
- Being wary of deals that seem too good to be true, as they may be a sign of odometer fraud.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked odometer fraud questions, click here.
Aside from the common scam of buying a car with a fake or stolen title, other types of fraud that people can fall victim to while vehicle shopping include:
- Odometer fraud– this is when the mileage of the car is rolled back to make it appear as if it has traveled fewer miles than it actually has.
- VIN cloning – this is when a thief takes the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from a legally owned car and puts it on a stolen car in order to sell it.
- Lemon laundering – this is when a manufacturer buys back a car that has a defect and resells it without disclosing the defect to the buyer.
To prepare before heading out to buy a car, you can:
- Research the make and model of the car you want to buy to make sure you are getting a good deal.
- Check the car’s history report to see if it has been in any accidents or has any outstanding liens.
- Get pre-approved for a loan so you know how much you can afford to spend.
- Have a mechanic inspect the car before buying to ensure that it is in good condition.
- Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, as they often are.
How do get a certified auto fraud lawyer? Contact Allen Stewart today.
The Texas lemon law provides protection to consumers who have purchased or leased a defective vehicle. To qualify for protection under the law, the vehicle must have a substantial defect or a series of defects that impair its use, safety or value. The defects must have occurred within the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first.
If a vehicle meets these requirements, the consumer may be eligible for either a replacement or repurchase of the vehicle. A replacement involves the manufacturer providing the consumer with a new vehicle of equal value, while a repurchase involves the manufacturer buying back the vehicle at a fair market value.
Navigating the Texas lemon law process can be complicated, and it’s important to hire a lemon law attorney to help. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, ensure that you meet all the criteria, and negotiate on your behalf with the manufacturer.
Some helpful materials you should gather to take to your attorney in a lemon law case in Texas include:
- Purchase or lease agreement
- Vehicle registration and title
- Repair orders and invoices
- Warranty or service contract
- Correspondence with manufacturer or dealer
- Any other relevant documents or evidence, such as photographs or videos
It is also a good idea to understand what you are facing as you navigate the lemon law process. The first step is to file the complaint through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. The Texas DMV has a special department that oversees lemon law cases. This helps speed up the process to resolution and keeps the cases from clogging up the legal court system.
If you think you have been a victim of odometer fraud, contact Allen Stewart. The consultation is free.
Staff will be assigned to your case. They will look over your complaint and file mediation as a first step. It is important to work with a lemon law attorney because they can help you avoid the pitfalls of being intimidated by the dealer or manufacturer.
If mediation is not successful, the next step is a hearing in front of an appointed examiner. Both sides get to tell their version of the situation, and the examiner must return a written decision within 60 days. That decision can be appealed.
Generally, if the case goes in favor of the vehicle owner, then the options are repair of the vehicle in question, repurchase of said vehicle or replacement with one of comparable value. Any miles driven and payments made are taken into consideration. However, any aftermarket additions are not factored into the vehicle value for replacement or repurchase.
It helps to work with a legal representative both to gather documentation and evidence and also to see potential roadblocks before they occur. Discuss previous victories with your chosen lemon law attorney. They can tell you about things they have run into in the past and help you prepare so your case is not the same, thereby moving things forward at a faster pace.
Knowing what to look for with odometer fraud and fraud in general before you head out to buy a new vehicle is important. Knowing your rights and the process you will face if you do end up with a lemon vehicle is also key, as this will reduce the unknown and stress that comes along with it. Your efforts to be prepared can make the difference in your future with your vehicle. Don’t sit around worrying if your vehicle has been idle for 30 days, if you made the proper notifications on the right timeline, or if you did things correctly when it needed repair. Contact the right lemon law attorney now for the help you need.