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Los Angeles Vehicle Lemon Law Blog

What to look for before buying a used vehicle

Used car buyers in California are urged to learn as much about a vehicle as possible before completing a transaction. This may prevent them from purchasing something that needs significant repairs or upgrades. A quick overview of the car itself could reveal clues about previous attempts to repair a dented frame. Paint that doesn't match the rest of the vehicle could also signal that repairs have been made in the past.

Engine oil should be clean and able to stay in the vehicle when it is driven. Dirty oil or signs of an oil or other fluid leaks may signal problems that could be costly to repair. Furthermore, there should be consistent oil pressure when the car is driven. To truly determine a car's condition, it should be driven for at least 15 minutes on highways and other main roads.

Dealers don't always disclose recalls

Car dealers in California and other states may sell used cars that are subject to open recalls. This could lead to a variety of safety issues that may put a vehicle owner and others in danger. A news station in the state looked at hundreds of used cars and found that many of them had open recalls for issues such as an engine shutdown or an accelerator issue.

One of the recalls was related to a transmission that could shift itself from the park setting. According to a representative from the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, dealers should be allowed to sell vehicles that are part of a recall. However, the group says that consumers should know about them before the sale is finalized. To find out if a car is under a recall, buyers can visit SaferCar.gov and enter the vehicle's VIN number.

Your BMW may not be as safe as you thought

At some point, most people have thought about buying a new BMW. And whether you based your purchase on the combination of performance and appearance, the company’s commitment to the environment or the way you felt when you got behind the wheel, you should be happy with your vehicle.

Many Americans enjoy German engineering and the safety a BMW traditionally provides. But in some cases, the company fails to meet federal safety standards. If you own an X1 SUV, you may soon need to deal with a recall.

Lawyers seek larger settlement from Ford

A law firm in California is looking to undo results from a previous class action lawsuit regarding two discontinued small car models from the Ford Motor Company. The firm hopes to secure a larger settlement for consumers affected by transmission issues associated with two of the automaker's vehicle models - the Focus and Fiesta. The company may have to fork over as much as $4 billion if the lawsuit is successful.

The lawsuit claims the automaker was aware of the transmission problems and purposely covered up this knowledge. Ford previously reached a settlement concerning the dual-clutch automatic transmissions in the vehicles in question for $35 million. The non-profit firm pursuing the new legal action concerning the same matter wants affected owners to get a fairer shake. Nearly 2 million drivers of both models reported transmission issues that included shuttering, jerking, and slowed acceleration.

Consumers have rights when getting their cars fixed

Those who own cars in California or any other state shouldn't be surprised if their vehicles need repairs at some point. However, consumers do have rights as it relates to how and where these repairs can be made. Generally speaking, mechanics are not allowed to do any work that was not authorized by the car's owner ahead of time. Furthermore, making the wrong type of repair may constitute an unauthorized repair under state law.

If a mechanic has already made a repair that was authorized by the car's owner, that person is entitled to payment. Failing to pay for services rendered could result in a mechanic's lien being placed on the car. This could occur regardless of how much the service bill was or what was being done to the vehicle. If a lien is placed on the vehicle, it could be sold to recoup the balance owed.

Customers gets refund thanks to media help

In California, individuals who purchase both new and used vehicles might have protection under the state's lemon law. However, this is not the case in most other states. Of course, this doesn't mean that there aren't ways to get a refund or other relief if a car is defective. For instance, the dealer may offer a warranty on a used car. A dealer may also decide to offer a refund or replace a defective vehicle.

A dealership in North Carolina did give a customer a refund after the BMW that he purchased for his son was found to have metal in the oil by a mechanic. The mechanic was inspecting the vehicle after the engine blew out, and the incident occurred about two months after it left the dealer lot. Although there was a warranty on the vehicle, the dealer refused to honor it.

You want your Ferrari to leave people in the dust, not ashes

Buying a Ferrari typically comes with a certain set of expectations. You expect your car to go from zero to 60 in a matter of seconds. You expect reliability. And in addition to your vehicle’s performance, you probably expect you will enjoy hearing the growl of the engine and the prestige your new car brings.

But you also expect your car will not ignite in the process, and that it will pass the California emissions test. However, this is not necessarily the case for more than 2,000 recently-recalled Ferraris.

Why dealers dislike handling warranty claims

When vehicle owners go to a California car dealership to have an issue with their car looked at, the dealer may be less than interested to fix it. This is because repeated attempts to fix a vehicle may cost a dealer time and money that it might not see back. Furthermore, a customer may already be turned off by a brand after having a negative experience with one of its vehicles.

Therefore, the dealer may feel as if it has little to gain by trying to make yet another attempt to fix a problem that is covered by a warranty. In the event that the problem cannot be fixed, the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for making the customer whole. Under state law, an automaker must either buy back or replace a vehicle that meets certain criteria. Typically, this must happen if the same problem has occurred a number of times.

How lemon laws apply to leases

When a car is leased in California, the consumer is renting the vehicle from a leasing company. Therefore, the leasing company is the entity that has rights under a state's lemon law instead of the lessee. That was one attorney's interpretation of a ruling made by the Arizona Supreme Court. Typically, a lemon law stipulates that a manufacturer must take back a vehicle that has been in a repair shop for more than 30 days.

The manufacturer must also generally take the car back if there have been four or more attempts to fix the same issue. However, since the leasing company tends to have a relationship with the car's manufacturer, it may not be inclined to exercise those rights. A consumer who chooses to lease a vehicle may be able to get a lender to sign a document that ensures he or she is protected.

Woman fears for safety because of car trouble

California law generally protects consumers if they purchase a defective vehicle. One woman in Florida claims that her new 2018 Hyundai Sonata SE had significant issues after just a few miles of driving. She says that the wheel started shaking and that she couldn't accelerate while driving on the local interstate. The woman also claimed that the radio wouldn't play and that the engine didn't work properly. There are several known issues with the 2018 Sonata.

According to the Hyundai website, the 2018 model year is under recall for a software update. The update will attempt to fix issues with a knock sensor that is supposed to alert drivers if there is excessive engine vibration. Hyundai acknowledged that the car was a lemon, and the company offered to buy it for about $3,400. At the time of the offer, the owner had already paid about $4,250.

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