Experienced Lemon Law Attorney Protecting California Consumers from Dealership Fraud
Were you sold a “certified” used car? If you were sold an automobile by a California dealership that was “certified” whether or not your California vehicle is a lemon, it is possible that you were a victim of auto fraud. Many CA dealers simply gloss over their “120” point inspection or don’t do it at all. And they often do not follow certain anti-fraud laws set out in the vehicle code.
Why do they do it? To sell used cars for more money than they are worth.
What is often the result? The consumer is left with a vehicle that is not what the dealership claimed. There are cars and trucks that may have hidden issues and problems that don’t surface for days, weeks, or months after the vehicle is purchased.
Here are some issues that can come with vehicles advertised as “certified”:
- It was previously wrecked
- It was poorly repaired
- It has been flooded
- It was recovered after a theft
- It was a lemon law buyback
- It has had its odometer rolled back
- It has been officially been marked as “salvage” or “junk”
Did you know that if an auto dealer in CA represents to you that the used vehicle being sold to you was certified, then the California Vehicle Code imposes certain requirements. The code calls it advertising, but it does NOT have to be in a newspaper or other publication. If the dealer has a banner, sign, or even verbally tells you that a car is certified – then they have advertised in the eyes of the law because they have made a representation to you.
If you think that false advertising or auto fraud led you to buy a bad car, you may be able to file a claim under California law. Speak to an experienced CA auto fraud attorney today to request a free, confidential consultation and learn your rights under the law.
What Is a Certified Used Vehicle?
Technically, a certified used vehicle or certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is an automobile that has been closely inspected by the manufacturer or dealer before it is resold. The advantage of buying a certified pre-owned vehicle is knowing that your car has been thoroughly examined for issues and that it is less likely to have mechanical or electrical problems after it is purchased.
However, in far too many cases certified vehicles do not undergo the 100+ point inspection as advertised. As a result, customers can unknowingly buy cars or trucks that have a history of misuse, abuse, and accidents. These cars could have issues that affect their use, value, and safety.
If a dealership has advertised a “Certified” used vehicles anywhere in California, then this consumer protection law states:
11713.18. (a) It is a violation of this code for the holder of any dealer’s license issued under this article to advertise for sale or sell a used vehicle as “certified” or use any similar descriptive term in the advertisement or the sale of a used vehicle that implies the vehicle has been certified to meet the terms of a used vehicle certification program if any of the following apply:
(1) The dealer knows or should have known that the odometer on the vehicle does not indicate actual mileage, has been rolled back or otherwise altered to show fewer miles, or replaced with an odometer showing fewer miles than actually driven.
(2) The dealer knows or should have known that the vehicle was reacquired by the vehicle’s manufacturer or a dealer pursuant to state or federal warranty laws.
(3) The title to the vehicle has been inscribed with the notation “Lemon Law Buyback,” “manufacturer repurchase,” “salvage,” “junk,” “nonrepairable,” “flood,” or similar title designation required by this state or another state.
(4) The vehicle has sustained damage in an impact, fire, or flood, that after repair prior to sale substantially impairs the use or safety of the vehicle.
(5) The dealer knows or should have known that the vehicle has sustained frame damage.
(6) Prior to sale, the dealer fails to provide the buyer with a completed inspection report indicating all the components inspected.
(7) The dealer disclaims any warranties of merchantability on the vehicle.
(8) The vehicle is sold “AS IS.”
(9) The term “certified” or any similar descriptive term is used in any manner that is untrue or misleading or that would cause any advertisement to be in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 11713 of this code or Section 17200 or 17500 of the Business and Professions Code.
11713.18. (b) A violation of this section is actionable under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (Title 1.5 (commencing with Section 1750) of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code), the Unfair Competition Law (Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 17200) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Business and Professions Code), Section 17500 of the Business and Professions Code, or any other applicable state or federal law. The rights and remedies provided by this section are cumulative and shall not be construed as restricting any right or remedy that is otherwise available.
11713.18. (c) This section does not abrogate or limit any disclosure obligation imposed by any other law.
11713.18. (d) This section does not apply to the advertisement or sale of a used motorcycle or a used off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification under Section 38010.
How to Protect Yourself Against Certified Used Vehicle Auto Fraud
Buying a used vehicle can be difficult because knowing the full history of the car takes time (and a little bit of money). Here’s what you should do before you make a big purchase:
- Run your own vehicle history report. Get a report from Carfax or AutoCheck to find out more about your car’s accident history. Just be aware that some accidents might not appear on the reports, especially if previous drivers were self-insured.
- Get your own inspection. Why would you believe an inspection report from the place that is trying to sell you the vehicle? Take the car to your own mechanic even though it will cost you a few bucks. If the dealership won’t let you get the vehicle inspected, don’t buy it.
- Read the title closely. The title can have a lot of invaluable information on it. Look for red flag words like lemon law buyback, flood, fire, junk, salvage, recovered theft, or rebuilt. You may also want to ensure that your car is not attached to any unpaid loans or similar money troubles.
- Demand an inspection and repair history. Get all available paperwork from the dealership itself, but realize that any information they may give you may be incomplete or even incorrect.
- Ask questions about the certification program. Not all pre-owned certification processes or programs are created equal. Some have much better track records than others. Do your homework about the program your car is involved in before signing on the dotted line.
After you have purchased the car, you should still be on the lookout for signs of fraud. Some car owners don’t discover issues until the car begins displaying problems, the car is involved in a collision, or the car is attempted to be sold again. If you feel that your dealership engaged in false advertising, false representation, or plain old lying in order to sell you your vehicle, speak to an attorney immediately.
Investigate Your Certified Used Car with the Help of an Experienced California Fraud Attorney
Do not passively accept the consequences of being the victim of auto fraud. If you have been sold a car on the claim that it was “certified” when it was not, the dealership broke the law and you may be owed compensation. Talking to an attorney can help you verify whether or not you have an auto fraud case, and decide your best options for legal action.
At Douglas D. Law, we are committed to helping California families find justice after buying a lemon or being the victim of auto fraud. We offer individuals free, private case evaluations where you can share your story, lay out your evidence, and ask all of the legal questions you have. We will listen and give you our best advice based on the facts.
Contact us if you have purchased a certified vehicle. We can help you determine if you have a claim.