What types of Car Defects apply under the Lemon Law?



For many people, the process of buying a car is an emotionally vested experience for them. You make a decision that now is the time to buy a new car.  After making the decision, you find the car you like. But not just any car. You find that car. At this point, excited and motivated, you begin to plan financially to take “her” home.

Months pass by as you work your 9-5 job earning your modest salary, with a target date in mind to purchase that dream car you’ve planned to buy. The time finally comes, and today is the day. You are finally going to be able to take your “dream car” home.

At the car dealer, you complete an agreement to purchase the vehicle and you drive away in it. It is a proud day as all your patience and hard work has finally paid off. You stop at a red light a few blocks away from your home, and smoke begins to rise from the engine. The smoke is so thick that you can barely see well enough through the windshield to drive the car home. You are furious, and rightfully so. You did not even get to enjoy your dream car for a full day and it has already required repair. You wonder what rights you have as a consumer so that you are not held liable for this defect your car has just unveiled that you were not initially aware of at the time you made the purchase.

Take a deep breath and relax. All is not lost. According to the Lemon Law, certain defects in material and workmanship are covered by the warranty. In addition, the consumer is not liable for defects that substantially impair the use, safety, or market value of the vehicle; and that were not caused by an accident, abuse or neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations to the vehicle.

As a result, in the aforementioned scenario, you would have a good case to have your car repaired and possibly receive compensation, because smoke coming from the engine would substantially hinder you from using your brand-new dream car. On the other hand, if you drive away and, for example the air conditioning does not work, the use and/or market value of the car is not substantially impaired, and a lemon law claim would not apply.

All car consumers should know that they are entitled to certain rights when purchasing a vehicle and should not have to be held responsible for certain car defects that may stop them from enjoying that dream car that they have earned, and therefore deserve to drive uninhibited.



Tips for Buying a Car




Be Aware of What You Are Paying!

When people look to buy a car, a common mistake that is often made is the assumption that the sticker price in the window is a price set by the dealer. It is not. This price is actually called the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or the MSRP. Before agreeing to pay this price, ask the car dealer to see the original invoice for the car. More often than not this will reveal a price lower than MSRP. There is no guarantee the dealer will sell you the car for the price listed on the original invoice, but it can give you leverage to begin negotiating for a lower price.



Consider if the Value is Worth it!

New cars begin to lose value as soon as you drive away from the dealer with it. With that in mind, you should know that sometimes it may not be worth it to buy a car new, as opposed to buying it used. If a new car’s price is a lot higher than its resale value, you may want to consider buying it used. A reason for this is because most people who buy new cars end up having to finance the car through loans and payments, and when doing this you become more prone to being taken advantage of by slick car dealers with contracts that charge high interest rates and include consciously hard to find repayment terms. If it makes financial sense to buy the car used, it is something you may want to consider.



If the Car is Used, Learn Everything You Can About its History!

If you are buying a used car, it is in your best interest to learn everything you can about the car’s history. If the car has been in an accident or has required engine repair in the past, you will want to know this so you can take it into consideration when deciding whether you would like to make the purchase. Sometimes, this information may also have an impact on the amount of money you would be willing to spend. In addition, if the car has been categorized as a “Lemon” in the past, it is in your best interest know this. Some of this information may be included in the vehicle’s “Cafax”, which the dealer may provide for you. If a dealer is not willing to provide the vehicle’s “Carfax” report, you may purchase it separately. However, it is important to know that even if a car has been declared a “Lemon,” or if a car has been in an accident, it does not necessarily mean the car is not a fully functional vehicle. However, these are things you will certainly want to take into consideration.


If Possible, Purchase the Car in Cash!

For many people, this may not be possible. However, if you can avoid financing the car through the dealer, or through a third party by simply paying cash for the car, you will be able to avoid a lot of possible stress. In many cases, entering into financing agreements, especially with a traditional car dealer can leave you susceptible to potential issues and scams. Car salesman are not trained to save you money. They are trained to make the most money they can from you. As a result, if you can avoid the hassle of possible high interest rates and bad repayment terms altogether by simply paying cash, you should definitely do it.


Be Smart Within the Payment Negotiation!

When you sit down to negotiate payments with a car salesman, a question he or she may ask is how much you can afford to pay per month. Do not answer this question! Questions such as these are not asked for the purpose of saving you money. They are only asked by car salesman to determine what their ceiling is in terms of what they can charge you. Choose your words wisely and always remember that you are negotiating to pay the lowest amount possible.



Make Sure You Are Aware of What is On the Purchase Agreement!

The Truth in Lending Act requires car dealers to include disclosures of information about all financing terms. Make sure you do not become a victim of a “yo-yo”, or a “bait and switch” scam where you agree to terms that turn into something you did not intend to agree to. Confirm your understanding of the agreement and hold the dealer liable for that understanding.



If Taking Out a Car Loan, Know Everything!

Before agreeing to a car loan, know everything about the loan you are agreeing to. The Truth In Lending Act requires companies to disclose all information regarding interest rates and repayment terms. If they do not you may be able to seek legal action. As a result, it is in your best interest to utilize this right, and be aware of these terms, while making sure you have a solid plan for repayment.

Wells Fargo Forces Honest Customers Into Unfair Private Arbitration

Wells Fargo created over 2 million fake bank accounts, forged signatures and may have improperly used customer data.
Yet honest banking customers cannot sue Wells Fargo in court AND are required to go to private arbitration! Outrageous! #ConsumerFinancialProtection

Read more about it here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wells-fargo-arbitration-20151205-story.html


Talent-Nelson Military Lending Act Expands Consumer Credit Protection Starting Oct 1. 2016

Attention: Military servicemembers and dependents; new law provides strict 36% military APR cap, renders arbitration clauses unenforceable, expands protection to more types consumer credit, and more. #ConsumerLawWin

Read more about it here: https://library.nclc.org/starting-october-3-new-consumer-rights-3-million-servicemembers-dependents

Odometer Rollback Fraud On the Rise

Odometer rollbacks defraud American car buyers out of more than $10 billion every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA). By rolling back a used car’s odometer from, for example, 120,000 miles to 30,000 miles, the value of a used car is fraudulently inflated to thousands of dollars more. Victims of odometer fraud are robbed of at least $4,000 per vehicle from breaking down and subsequent repair work.

What is an odometer rollback? When a vehicle transfers owners, the previous owner must give the new owner a written odometer statement disclosing the vehicle’s true mileage at the time of transfer. An odometer rollback occurs where a dealer or private seller alters the mileage on the car’s odometer.

Here are three ways to check your car for odometer fraud. 

  1. Check out the wear and tear on the vehicle. Does the wear and tear match the mileage?
  2. Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic.
  3. Using the VIN number, obtain the vehicle history report from trusted database services such as:
    1. CARFAX Odometer Check
    2. AutoCheck
    3. National Motor Vehicle Title Information System

Fighting Odometer Fraud

Victims of consumer fraud have several legal claims due to federal and state odometer statutes.

Under the Federal Odometer Act, odometer fraud is a felony. Further, a victim of odometer fraud may collect up to $10,000 or treble damages of 3 times the actual damages, whichever is greater, plus attorney fees and court costs.

Under New York Gen. Bus. Law § 392-e, a seller of a vehicle is prohibited from (1) providing a false odometer disclosure statement upon transfer of a vehicle; (2) misrepresenting true mileage driven to a transferee by disconnecting or changing an odometer or causing an odometer to be disconnected or changed, so as to reduce the mileage indicated; (3) removing an odometer repair notice.

Act Now

If you are a victim of odometer fraud, the Kasell Law Firm may be able to help you obtain damages. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please email me at David@KasellLawFirm.com or call (718) 404-6668. I look forward to working with you!

This material may be viewed as attorney advertising and does not constitute legal advice. This information does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the author. This article strictly represents the personal views of the author on the date it was written and such views are subject to change without notice.