For some reason, car dealerships try to hoodwink their customers around this time of the year. Recently underhanded practices have been discovered in quite a few dealerships. Dealerships will sometimes misrepresent their vehicles as having passed a thorough inspection for safety, reliability, and quality by labeling it as a "certified pre-owned vehicle." But most of the time it turns out that the car had been in a big wreck, was not road-worthy or safe to drive, and was overpriced. None of this was discovered until after the car was bought, of course, and the dealership refused to make matters right by taking the vehicle back.
It is unfortunate that you will probably learn of any potential problems accidentally, after you have made the purchase. Fortunately, it is never too late to have restitution, although it may take some exertion. When a car receives five or more repairs for the same problem while still under warranty, or the car spends thirty days under repair for an assortment of problems, it can qualify under the "Lemon Law." You may only be required to have two repair attempts if the problem is regarding a "major safety issue." When this happens, you have the right to a new vehicle as a replacement and you should get all or most of your money refunded.
If your vehicle is in one of the aforementioned categories, you are entitled to a refund, and may be able to collect damages from the dealership for fraud. Dealerships, as with many businesses, do not make it a habit to admit wrongdoing or fraudulent activities. Dealerships will feign ignorance of non-disclosure and try to make you think that it was an accidental oversight. This is usually the norm, but sometimes a dealership thinks that it can get by with a non-disclosure. After all, a dealership has quick access to DMV records, professional mechanics and auto body specialists, lawyers, advertising specialists, advisors, et cetera. You can reduce the odds of a lemon or dealer misconduct on used vehicles by doing your homework, but you can rarely predict a lemon vehicle if you purchase the vehicle new.
Before buying, have any used vehicle scrutinized by a certified mechanic and a quality body shop, which can inform you of whether or not it has been in a serious accident. If it has been involved in an accident, don't purchase it! The automobile website www.carfax.com is an excellent source for salvaged titles.
Pass on any vehicle whose title has been transferred three or more times. When purchasing a used car, make sure you receive a written warranty. Consumer Reports is a good place to look for automobiles that are good and those that are not so good. If you suspect foul play from the dealership, contact a lawyer to discuss possible avenues of action.
Frequently more damaging than successful are self-help techniques to "unwind" a vehicle purchase. Generally, the dealership will attempt to trade the problem vehicle for another 'certified pre-owned vehicle' on the lot; this new vehicle comes with a new long-term commitment on an already overvalued vehicle. It takes a big chunk of money to buy a vehicle, and you depend on it to be reliable for your family's safety when traveling. For this reason, you are entitled to totally fair and honest treatment. Stand up for your rights, as it is imperative that you be a knowledgeable buyer.
Barry Edzant is an expert at helping victims of dealership fraud find recourse. Working as a California lemon law lawyers, Barry has helped hundreds of Californians receive new cars or refunded payments for their lemons, and has also assisted those who needed a California dog bite attorneys as a result of buying an unstable vehicle.