As history shows us, neither a manufacturer nor a dealer will go out of
its way to announce a vehicle defect to the world. As witness, the first
in the recent series of Toyota recalls was for unexpected acceleration—but
several unpublicized settlements had already occurred with complaining
consumers before the general public ever heard of the problem. And the
problem was only made public after the National Highway and Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) had launched an investigation.
The lemon problem can, of course, be worse for purchasers of used cars.
The dealer, in this case, is not the original dealer of the vehicle and
the vehicle’s history can be somewhat obscured. Up until recently,
in California the only way to check a vehicle’s history was through
a service called Carfax, for a fee of $30. Now, however, a new service
is being provided by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and
for $4.00 or less a consumer can find out if the vehicle he or she is
considering for purchase could be a lemon.
The report contains information from a database compiled from junkyards,
mechanics, insurance companies and other sources.
“Probably the most common problem that occurs when someone buys a
used car is that the vehicle’s history can remain undisclosed,”
said Norman Taylor, leading California lemon law attorney. “It is
very important that consumers protect themselves by knowing all about
used cars before they purchase them.”
Taylor has seen and heard many stories of defective vehicles. He has been
a California lemon law specialist since 1987, and he and his firm, Norman
Taylor and Associates, have handled over 8,000 cases for consumers with
a 98 percent success rate.
An example of a used car “cover up” would be that of a woman
purchasing a fairly new vehicle from a used car dealership. The dealership
fails to disclose that the car was, for some time, a rental vehicle—something
that will add above-normal wear and tear. The car has a serious engine
defect, and the owner brings it back for repair. Of course, the dealer
doesn’t want to take full responsibility for the vehicle, so when
the woman brings it back numerous times for repair under warranty, the
actual problem never gets addressed.
“Anyone in the position of going through numerous repair attempts—with
a used or even a new car—for a defect that just doesn’t seem
to get addressed, should contact an attorney specializing in lemon law,”
Fortunately, the California DMV has now added another weapon to the arsenal
against lemons for consumers.