You are the owner of a new vehicle. You are excited, showing it off to family and friends. You go out for a drive just to enjoy being behind the wheel of a great new vehicle. You drive to work and home, grab groceries, or go out for dinner to celebrate life being grand.
Suddenly, your vehicle isn’t operating as you expect. There is a significant defect, and you can’t drive it without being afraid you will be hurt. This means you are the not so proud owner of a lemon law vehicle.
Car Fraud, Example #1: Sam went to the car dealership, excited to purchase a new vehicle. While there, he was convinced that his trade-in was worth half of what he thought it would be worth and then he was told he need to buy GAP insurance, which increased his total purchase price – although it only increased his monthly payment by $6.
Don’t fall for this – banks typically don’t require GAP insurance, even if the dealership tries to convince you they do. Also, make sure you have an idea of your vehicle’s value before you start talking trade-in with any dealership.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked car dealer fraud questions, click here.
Car Fraud, Example #2: Rhonda found a vehicle she really liked. She took it for a test drive, and it drove really smoothly. It seemed great. The only issue was the mileage seemed low. Rhonda did not get the vehicle history or look at maintenance records. She bought the vehicle anyway – and then she found out that the dealer had tampered with the odometer, making it appear to have fewer miles than it had actually been driven.
Car Fraud, Example #3: Tyler found a vehicle in an ad that sounded perfect for him. However, once he got to the dealership, he was told that the vehicle had been sold. They took his keys to evaluate his trade-in, and then they refused to give them back, continuing to show him vehicles that were priced much higher than the one that drew him to the dealership in the first place. Tyler got frustrated and eventually agreed to a deal that he knew he couldn’t handle the payments on. This trapped him in a case of dealer fraud.
If any situations arise where you feel you are the victim of car fraud, there are steps to take to protect yourself. If you get the ball moving in a timely manner, then you might even be able to find a resolution that does not leave you footing the bill for a vehicle that doesn’t transport you as you hoped it would.
Contact the Dealer
In any situation where you find yourself having issues with the vehicle, it is best to reach out to the dealership first. The vehicle may be covered by warranties, or the dealership may be willing to help. Not all dealerships fail to hold up their end of the bargain when a vehicle proves to be defective.
Are you a victim of car dealer fraud? Contact Allen Stewart today.
If the attempt to get resolution through the dealership fails, there are other options.
If you find your vehicle has a significant defect, immediately begin gathering all documentation. You need copies of all reports of visits to the service department. It is important that the same defect be the reason for each visit, so be careful to report the issue the same way each time you visit.
It is a good idea to keep all of these documents together and make sure that you reach out to the manufacturer in a way that can be proven – to make them aware of the issue you are facing.
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Having the documentation in a safe place allows you to be prepared if and when your case proceeds to mediation or a hearing under the Texas lemon law, which we will discuss more later.
Consult a Professional
A lemon law attorney can be very valuable to help with every step in the process if you are dealing with car fraud. They can guide you in gathering information, in determining the next step in the process, and they can help you deal with the manufacturer during mediation and any efforts they make to talk you out of seeking restitution.
If you think you have been a victim of car dealer fraud, contact Allen Stewart. The consultation is free.
The process of dealing with car fraud is difficult because the dealership is hoping to keep the money in their pockets and not have to help you with this problem vehicle. Therefore, it is important that you have professionals on your side to help you understand the best steps to take to move forward toward resolution.
Report the Issue to a State Agency
In Texas, the answer is to make a complaint through the Texas lemon law, which is overseen by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. The Texas DMV has a specially staffed department that handles these complaints. The complaint itself can be filed online.
Reporting a Lemon Under the Texas Lemon Law
The Texas lemon law protects auto buyers who purchase a vehicle from a dealer within the state borders. Also, the vehicle must be covered by a warranty through the dealer or manufacturer where you purchased it.
If this is the case -and the vehicle is within six months after the first 24 months of ownership or first 24,000 miles driven – you may see the vehicle covered under the Texas lemon law.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
The vehicles covered under the lemon law include cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, minivans, electric vehicles, and RVs. Towable recreational vehicles, or TRVs, are also covered under this law.
The vehicle must be covered under an original warranty and be within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles of ownership – which we already covered. However, it is important to note here that if the vehicle is sold, used and still covered under these criteria, it still allows the auto owner to use the Texas lemon law to help you find a resolution.
The vehicle must also pass a few tests. Those tests include:
- The 30-day test: This means the vehicle sits idle for 30 days or more during the term of ownership. If there is no loaner vehicle being provided, then each day counts.
- The four time test: This means the vehicle has been taken to a mechanic four times with no resolution of the defect. Each visit must be for the same defect, however. It can’t be for various reasons.
- The significant defect test: This means the defect must put the life of the driver or any passengers’ lives at risk when it is operated. Also, it must mean a significant decrease in the value of the vehicle.
In the event your vehicle fits these criteria, then the Texas lemon law is the way to find help in dealing with the car fraud situation. You have the chance to have the case found in your favor, and you may have your vehicle repurchased, replaced, or repaired on someone else’s dime.
It is a good idea to consult a legal professional to help you with this process. They can guide you in gathering the documentation and making sure all deadlines are met reasonably. They also can let you know if there are situations where you need more help or might be a further victim of fraud.