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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

Understanding the Laws of Buying a Used Car from a Dealer

Used Car
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Purchasing a used vehicle is always a test of not only your knowledge of the car world but the ethics of the car dealer where you plan to shop. It is a good idea to have a couple of dealerships in mind and tread carefully no matter where you hope to find your new-to-you (used) vehicle.

The first thing that is important to know when shopping for a vehicle is that Texas does not provide a three-day grace period, where you will be able to cancel the purchase of a vehicle. Once the paperwork is signed, the dealer is required to have the title registered in your name. If you owe money, that title will then be sent to the financing institution. Meanwhile, if you own the vehicle outright, that title will be sent to you. That has to be completed within 30 days.

Therefore, there are limited options for resolution if the vehicle shows evidence of a defect once it is in your possession. Therefore, it is wise to be prepared beforehand and avoid issues if at all possible.

The process of buying a used car requires a bit more research and knowledge before you head to the dealer. The more you know, the better the chances you will make a smart purchase and not require the services of a lemon law attorney to help you resolve issues with a defective vehicle.

According to the Texas attorney general, there are various considerations when you are about to head out to go car shopping. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles can also be a valuable resource for those who want to know the prices of a vehicle – either new or used – that are within the average for the state and not jacked up to provide a bigger financial gain for the dealer.

The first is to look into the crash test ratings of various makes and models to be sure the vehicle of choice is the right fit for your needs. Likewise, it is a good idea to take the vehicle for a test drive, carefully inspect the title, and be sure to have a mechanic you trust look it over if you have one readily available.

For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here. 

It is also a good idea to pay close attention to total payments, total amount you will pay for the vehicle, and the annual interest rate when you are about to sign the sales contract. It is a good idea to see what type of expense you are getting into, how long you will be paying on the vehicle, and the general expected lifespan of the vehicle before you can think about getting another one.

One final piece of advice from the attorney general is to be aware that as-is warranties mean that any defects that arise once you have purchased the vehicle are your responsibility to fix. This is a type of warranty to avoid if you have other options.

The Texas lemon law may be beneficial to the owner of a used car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, or electric vehicle. However, those vehicles must be covered under the original warranties from the manufacturer or dealer, and they must be within the window of the first 24 months of ownership or first 24,000 miles driven.

Granted, this situation is not common among used vehicles. However, that is not to say it never occurs. Therefore, below we will detail the various criteria for a defective vehicle to fit the lemon law and be eligible for a lemon law complaint.

First of all, the defect must significantly decrease the value of the vehicle and put the driver and/or passengers’ lives at risk when the vehicle is driven.

Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form

Next, the vehicle defect must persist, despite four or more visits to a mechanic to have it repaired. The mechanic does not have to be the same one. However, the documentation for each visit must show the visit is for the same issue. It is also important to reach out to the manufacturer/dealer at some point while you are attempting to have the repairs completed. This alerts them to the ongoing problem you face and gives them the opportunity to assist you in having the repairs done.

The accepted recommendation is to notify them via certified mail to provide a paper trail of proof that you reached out for assistance from them during this time. That way, they can’t claim the contrary simply because they did not respond to you about the repair efforts and the significant vehicle defect.

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Finally, the vehicle defect must result in the vehicle sitting idle for 30 days or more during the first 24 months of ownership or 24,000 miles driven. Any days where a mechanic or the dealer offered a loaner vehicle do not count toward this total. However, the 30 days do not have to be in a row. The lemon law specifically says that any 30 days out of that 24 months or the period of 24,000 miles driven count toward the total.

Your lemon law attorney can help you with questions of eligibility, documentation gathering and preparation, and the filing of the lemon law complaint. This can be completed online, provided you have the ability to pay the $35 fee.

Once the complaint is filed, specific staff are assigned in the lemon law department at the Texas DMV. Those staff generally look over the case file and then set up a mediation between you and the auto dealer. It is very important to have a lemon law attorney at this point, as dealers and manufacturers tend to try to bully or intimidate a vehicle owner into an unsatisfactory deal during the mediation.

Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.

If the mediation is unsuccessful, a hearing is scheduled where an examiner hears both sides of the case. They have 60 days to return a written decision on the case.

In the event the case goes in the vehicle owner’s favor, the vehicle can be repaired, repurchased or replaced by the auto manufacturer or dealer.

Remember that the miles driven, any payments made, and any funds used for the unsuccessful repair attempts are factored into the vehicle value for all three of these options. Meanwhile, the aftermarket additions you have made to your vehicle are not a factor in the vehicle value.

Auto owners who work with a lemon law attorney get the benefit of the attorney’s experience and the staff’s support during documentation gathering and complaint filing prep. Therefore, in order to cut down on the stress during an already inconvenient and annoying time, it is a smart idea to invest in the assistance of a legal professional to complete legal proceedings.

It is also wise to be aware of the various regulations that can be found to your benefit as a used vehicle owner. You don’t have to be stuck with an expensive lawn ornament and years of payments. Instead, be aware that there are legal opportunities to pursue reimbursement and compensation.

Reach out to a lemon law attorneytoday and get both a better understanding of your options and the support you need to navigate them successfully. A reliable vehicle may be more within reach than you expect. It simply requires a bit of guidance for the process to resolve the issue at hand.

This information brought to you byAllen Stewart P.C.

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