Today, we find you ready to go car shopping. Hopefully, that is because you are ready to upgrade your current, still completely functional ride and not because you are stressed because your previously reliable vehicle has been wrecked or is no longer running.
Car shopping can be fun, provided you do the right research and prepare for potential scams that car dealers regularly use to pawn off lemon vehicles onto their customers.
Some common car scams include pushing you to decide quickly. The salesman gets paid based on selling you the car. Keep that in mind. He isn’t looking out for your best interests. They may tell you someone else is interested in the same car, that the price is “only good for today,” or that there are only four of this color left in the entire state. Don’t fall for these tactics. If you aren’t in love with the car, or the price, or the sale, then don’t be pushed into it out of some sense of a deadline.
Be aware that whatever information you share with the salesman can come back to bite you. If you say you want a certain monthly payment, make sure you also negotiate the length of the loan term. Also, if you have a trade-in, make sure you pay attention to the price of the car and the amount they say they are giving you for your vehicle.
Don’t let them change a part of the deal to increase their profit. Negotiate each step in the purchase price separately.
If you are car shopping and see a vehicle for an awesome deal, just assume that when you get to the dealer that car won’t be available. Typically, that car was never available. Car dealers present a vehicle at a great monthly payment or great price to get customers into the dealer’s lot. Once you are there, they tell you that vehicle “already sold” or some other excuse for lack of availability. They want you there to sell you a far different vehicle.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked odometer fraud questions, click here.
Some car dealers have dealerships in different states to provide them the opportunity to switch a vehicle from state to state. This can “wash” the title of previous accident or flood damage, for example.
Carfax and Autocheck base information on the vehicle VIN and do not allow for removal of accident details or salvage situations. You also can be forewarned if they are attempting to pawn off a lemon vehicle that was bought back by the dealership.
A vehicle with less miles on it sells for more. Car dealers recognize this and make an effort to change the odometer, even with today’s digital models. Software and devices available today actually make it easier to reprogram an odometer, compared to those in previous years. Compare the mileage on the vehicle’s odometer to maintenance records and do a check through Carfax.
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The Texas lemon law is in place for times when you find yourself on the short end of a deal for a car. If your car has a significant, life-threatening defect that also significantly decreases the value of the vehicle, then you need to know the criteria to have a vehicle deemed a lemon.
The Texas lemon law is overseen by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. The law covers any vehicle covered by original warranty and sold within the state borders of Texas. Because it involves warranty, it may not mean good news for the owner of a used vehicle that is acting up.
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However, for a car, truck, motorcycle, SUV, RV or TRV (towable recreational vehicle) that is within the first 24,000 miles or 24 months since it was purchased and is covered by a warranty, you have a possible resource to address your defective vehicle.
It is important to note here that electric vehicles are also covered under the Texas lemon law. In a world where the focus is switching to electric vehicles, it is a good thing to know that those too are covered.
The Texas lemon law has several criteria that must be met for the vehicle to be considered eligible.
The vehicle must have the aforementioned significant defect that puts the driver/passengers at risk. It also must meet the four times test, the 30-day test and it should be proven that you reached out to the manufacturer to make them aware of the issue – and they had a chance to make good on the situation.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
The four times test is in regard to repair efforts for your vehicle. You should have documentation that you took the vehicle to a mechanic or service department on four or more occasions, all with the hope of having the same defect resolved. This should be proven through service repair reports or other dated materials.
The 30 day test requires that the vehicle sit idle for 30 days (or more) within the first 24-month, 24,000 mile period (whichever milestone is hit first). These days do not have to be consecutive. However, any days where a loaner vehicle is provided do not count toward the 30-day total.
Once you have established that your vehicle fits the above criteria, it’s time to consider working with a lemon law attorney. They have experience with these cases, can see any areas where you may have insufficient documentation, and they can share tips that will help you before you file the Texas lemon law complaint.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law criteria questions, click here.
Once the complaint is filed (which can be done online), then staff with the Texas DMV’s lemon law department begin overseeing the process to resolution. The first step is mediation. This is a good time to have your lemon law attorney at your side. They can help make sure the manufacturer does not pressure you into taking a deal that leaves you with a defective vehicle and no satisfactory resolution
If mediation is not successful the next step is a hearing in front of an assigned examiner. Both sides present their case, and the examiner has 60 days to provide a written decision. Both sides have the right to appeal that decision once it is provided.
Potential outcomes if the case is in favor of you as the vehicle owner include: repair, replacement or repurchase. The repair will be at the expense of the manufacturer ( and may include restitution for the previous repair attempts). Replacement occurs with a vehicle that is of comparable value, with consideration for the miles driven and payments made on the loan to this point. Likewise, the repurchase option considers the miles driven and the payments made on the vehicle – but none of these options consider aftermarket additions made to the vehicle.
Working with a lemon law attorney means a better chance of a positive resolution and a chance to have a reliable vehicle without that payment for a defective vehicle hanging over your head. Reach out to a lemon law attorney today to see what your best next steps will be. Ending up with a lemon vehicle does not mean you have to stay stuck forever.