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Frequently Asked Questions About Motor Vehicle Laws

Are there laws which state that a vehicle needs to be repurchased if the manufacturer of a new vehicle, or a dealership that sold a used vehicle, cannot fix it after a certain number of attempts or if it has been out of service for repair for too long?

Yes. Not every state, but many states have their own ‘lemon laws’, which state that if a vehicle is out of service for repair a certain amount of business days during the warranty period for the vehicle, or if it has been brought back for repair of the same defect a certain amount of times during the warranty period of the vehicle, that the consumer is entitled to either a repurchase of the vehicle or a replacement of the vehicle.  Some states have solely a new vehicle lemon law, and some states also have a lemon law to protect consumers who purchase used vehicles.  Some states, as indicated, have no lemon law protection.

Are there laws that can protect consumers who buy vehicles from private sellers who commit auto fraud?

Yes. It depends on the state, but some states have laws that can protect a consumer who buys a vehicle from a private seller that will not pass the state’s vehicle inspection test.  There are also many laws, depending on the state, which state that any person cannot commit fraud in the course of the sale of goods.

Are there laws to protect a consumer when a vehicle’s repairs cannot be successfully performed during the vehicle’s warranty period by a vehicle manufacturer or by a dealership or by a repair shop?

Yes.  Aside from lemon law, there are federal and state laws where a consumer can be entitled to financial compensation if the consumer’s vehicle cannot be successfully repaired during the warranty period for the vehicle, despite many attempts.

Can a dealership roll back a vehicle’s odometer without disclosing that to a consumer?

No.  Federal law(s) that can help protect consumers against odometer fraud and can entitle them to compensation.  Depending on the state, there are also state statute(s) that can protect consumers against odometer fraud and entitle those consumers to compensation.

Does a dealership have to give a consumer the title to the vehicle that was purchased by the consumer within a certain time frame? 

Yes.  Depending on the state, there can be consumer protection law(s) in place that provides a maximum time frame under which a dealership has to ensure that a consumer receives the title for the vehicle that the consumer purchased.

Is a vehicle service contract that a consumer buys from a dealership the same as an extended warranty? 

No.  In fact, it would be illegal for them to be advertised as being the same thing. Vehicle service contracts that are sold do not always cover the cost of repair for the same defects that a full or limited warranty would cover.

Do financial institutions that provide financing for vehicle loans, or that allow consumers to lease vehicles, have to make accurate disclosures on loans or lease agreements? 

Yes.  There are federal statutes that can protect consumers from false or inaccurate disclosures and depending on the state there are state law(s) that can protect consumers from this as well and entitle those consumers to compensation.

If a state’s respective lemon law does not protect consumers who purchase boats, RVs, campers, motorcycles, and some other vehicles, are those consumers left without legal protection?

No.  Lemon laws are just one type of law, there are many other laws that can apply and that can provide protection for consumers who purchase vehicles, and that can entitle those consumers to compensation for needed repairs, or to a repurchase of the vehicle.

Should a consumer contact a lawyer if they believe that their rights were violated by a financial institution that provides leases for vehicles or vehicle loans; or by a repair shop; or by a dealership; or by a vehicle manufacturer?

Yes. Consumers should contact a law firm that tries to attain compensation and justice for consumers by pursuing such companies that violate the law. Many law firms offer free initial consultations. A consumer should try to contact a law firm that is licensed to practice law in the consumer’s respective state.

A consumer can also try to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), or the Attorney General’s Office in the consumer’s respective state. Some Attorney General’s Offices have consumer protection divisions which may be able to help respective consumers who contact them.