Spotting a Lemon Just Got Easier

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,” Taylor said.

Fortunately, the California DMV has now added another weapon to the arsenal against lemons for consumers.

Categories: