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Lemon Law Blog

Friday, October 10, 2014

Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against NJ Used Car Dealer Settled

New Jersey state law protects consumers against fraud.  Nevertheless, fraud still happens and when a consumer is the victim they may have recourse under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.  As a recent case illustrates, complaints of this kind are handled by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and can often lead to compensation.

A used luxury car dealership, 21st Century Auto Group, Inc. of Springfield, New Jersey, was the subject of over 40 consumer complaints.  In 2013, the Division of Consumer Affairs decided to file a lawsuit against them.  The Division asserted that the dealership had broken multiple laws including the Consumer Fraud Act, Lemon Law, advertising and sales rules.  Customers had various specific complaints.  They claimed that the business deceived them by omitting that the vehicles they were interested in had been rental cars or were damaged in an accident.  They also claimed that the business engaged in deceptive advertising practices by refusing to sell certain vehicles for the advertised price as well drawing customers in with an advertisement of a vehicle that had already been sold and then trying to sell them another.  It was also alleged that the business was slow to accommodate customers who decided they did not want the vehicle they had contracted for and requested the return of their trade-in or deposit.

The dealership decided to settle with the Division of Consumer Affairs.  They agreed to pay $130,000 including civil penalties, attorney’s fees and reimbursement to the state for its expenditures.  As part of the settlement, the dealership is also required to hire a compliance monitor for the next year to ensure that they are abiding by regulations and the terms of the settlement.  They must also work with the 43 consumers that made complaints against them to remedy the wrongs they committed.  If the parties cannot agree they will be subjected to alternative dispute resolution, the outcome of which they will be bound by.

When a consumer is subjected to fraud or deceptive practices by a business in the motor vehicle industry they do have options.  A reputable Lemon Law attorney can assist clients with these issues right away. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent Success in Lemon Law Cases

As a consumer, you do not always get what we bargained for.  When it comes to a big purchase, such as a vehicle, it is important that you have some type of recourse.  This is where the Lemon Laws become important.  Vehicle Lemon Laws are meant to protect a consumer who purchases an automobile that is defective in some way.  At Timothy Abeel & Associates, we have a wide variety of experience in this area which has allowed us to obtain great results for our clients, even in difficult cases, such as the two listed below.

A client purchased a 2012 mid-sized sedan and began having problems with the tire pressure warning light.  The light continued to go on and the client was back and forth to the dealership seven times hoping to have the problem fixed.  After contacting the firm and retaining our attorney, Richard A. Scholer, the vehicle manufacturer agreed to repurchase the vehicle (issue a full refund to the client) and agreed to pay attorneys fees.  This case was a difficult one as the Lemon Law is mostly applicable in cases of water and oil leaks, brake issues, etc…Even so, 60 days after hiring our firm the client was completely relieved of the burden the vehicle had caused.

Another client purchased a brand new 2014 SUV and soon after the sun roof started leaking.  The client, who was an attorney, tried to handle the case themselves but made no headway with the manufacturer.  After retaining Timothy Abeel the client was given a replacement SUV at no cost.  Many clients try to handle these cases themselves and either end up making no progress or accepting less than they are entitled to.  That is why it is essential to retain an attorney with significant experience in this area in order to get results.

 In another instance, a client purchased a sedan for over $100,000.  When the vehicle began having an issue with it's warning lights, the client brought the vehicle back and forth to the dealership four times.  When the vehicle was out of service for over 40 days, the client, also an attorney, attempted to negotiate with the manufacturer to have the vehicle bought back.  When his communications with the manufacturer went no where, he contacted Timothy Abeel.  In a short amount of time, Tim was able to have the manufacturer repurchase the vehicle and pay attorneys fees.  

The client in this case has said:

"Tim is very responsive to emails/phone calls, and has excellent insight in how best to deal with vehicle manufacturers. He resolved my lemon law claim very quickly. I strongly encourage any consumer having a lemon law issue with their vehicle to contact Tim."

As this area of law is unique, these cases should be handled by attorneys who are veterans in this field.  Contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney today for a free consultation. 


Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Website Helps Car-Owners Find Defects

In 2014, there have been 46 million automobile recalls nationwide.  Owners of almost any car might, understandably, worry about hidden mechanical problems that could prove inconvenient or even life-threatening.

A new web site created by the federal government is designed to help car owners find out everything they need to know about a car's recall history.  Users who enter a car, truck or motorcycle vehicle identification number (VIN) into Safercar.gov will get a list of recall repairs for that vehicle.

The free service uses automobile companies' weekly recall records, identifying which repairs were needed and which ones were actually made for the vehicle.  Owners can then take their vehicle in for any recall repairs that should have been made.  The web site relieves consumers of the responsibility of figuring out the exact year, make and model they own and then researching which recalls may have applied to it.  Simply by entering a VIN, owners can find out about recalls going back 15 years.  After 10 years, a repair needed because of a recall may no longer be free.

Smaller-volume car brands, such as Bentley, are exempt from the system.  Technical service bulletins are also not searchable.  But owners of new and used vehicles still get valuable information about what has been done, and what needs to be done, to make their cars roadworthy.

Dealers who fail to disclose car defects may be engaged in fraud or other deceptive business practices.  In addition, if your new car cannot be fixed after repeated attempts or is not drivable for long periods of time, you may be entitled to a complete refund or replacement vehicle under your state's lemon law.

 

if you believe that your automobile is a lemon, don't hesitate to contact a reputable Lemon Law attorney for a free consultation today!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Jersey Roads Awash in Title-Washed Cars

Two years after Hurricane Sandy flooded their homes, thousands of New Jersey residents now face a new disaster—unwittingly driving flood-damaged cars. 

Data from CarFax, the company that compiles vehicle histories on used cars and trucks, shows that New Jersey leads the nation in "title-washing." 

In this scam, professional con men don't just remove outward signs of damage from cars—they also remove all indications of damage from cars' titles.  According to CarFax, they move cars from state to state and are, ultimately, able to present a buyer with an unblemished title.  Sold to unsuspecting consumers, the cars may have serious hidden damage. 

There may be as many as 80,000 title-washed cars on New Jersey roads.  Not all were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  The scam encompasses all types of accidents and wrecks.  But a spokesperson for the state Motor Vehicle Commission blamed the storm for the increase in title-washing incidents in the state.   

CarFax recommends purchasing from a reputable dealer and having a reliable mechanic take a look at the car.  More research to a car's history can also uncover attempts at fraud. 

Since February 2013, New Jersey motorists have been able to consult an online database.  The site enables consumers to search for cars by Vehicle Identification Number, make, model and year to determine whether it was in a flood or accident. 

Dealer fraud, misrepresenting a car's history, concealing water or collision damage, and other types of deceptive business practices, are illegal under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law.  If you have been a victim of misrepresentations about the condition of your vehicle, an experienced Lemon Law attorney can help you gain the upper hand.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Under NJ Lemon Law, Consumer Gets Full Refund for Car With Faulty Airbag

What happens when a new car's engine works well, but its airbag warning light doesn't?  That defect may entitle a consumer to a full refund, as a New Jersey family has discovered, after a long battle.

Consumers who buy new cars that prove defective may be able to receive a refund or replacement car under New Jersey's "Lemon Law."  The law applies to vehicles with defects that are still unresolved after several attempts at repair or that are out of service for twenty (20) days or more.  A wide range of mechanical and structural problems can also qualify a car as a lemon.

After purchasing a new 2013 Nissan Sentra for his family, James Staszak kept noticing that the warning light for the passenger side airbag stayed on. When passengers are in the passenger seat, the car is supposed to detect their presence and the airbag is supposed to be operational.  In the Staszak's car, the constant warning light raised the possibility that the passenger airbag was not operational and would not deploy in an accident.

When he looked further into the problem, Staszak discovered that Nissan had recalled a number of 2013 Nissan Sentras because of issues involving passenger side airbags.  Two Nissan dealerships were unable to fix the problem with his car, but refused to take the car back.  For a year, the Staszak family worried about the air bag whenever they drove the car.

With the help of a local ABC news program, the Staszaks were able to motivate Nissan to take a closer look at their case.  Nissan repurchased the car and gave them a complete refund—their down payment plus their entire year of car payments.  The company specifically acknowledged New Jersey's Lemon Law in its resolution of the dispute.

The dispute and its resolution illustrate two important points.  First, that even if a car runs smoothly, it may be a "lemon" for other reasons.  Second, that it helps to have a vigorous advocate when dealing with recalcitrant automobile dealers and manufacturers.  

Not everyone has the benefit of a television news show's intervention.  Fortunately, there are other ways to get results that can be just as effective, if not more so.  A knowledgeable attorney can help consumers determine whether the lemon law applies and whether there are other legal grounds for a claim, such as breach of warranty.  

if you believe that your automobile is a lemon, don't hesitate to contact a reputable lemon law attorney for a consultation today!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inaccurate Fuel Ratings and Electric Charge Ranges

Gas prices have skyrocketed in the last ten years.  For some, it can feel like they are spending a small fortune whenever they fill up their vehicle.  With gas prices constantly fluctuating and an increasingly environmentally conscious population, the consumer and manufacturer alike have been focusing on fuel economy and the widespread manufacturing of hybrid vehicles.

Fuel economy and electric charge range are main factors considered by consumers when leasing or purchasing an automobile.  All cars are given a fuel rating and/or electric charge range by the Environmental Protection Agency.  While many variables affect these ratings, cars are supposed to perform at around their estimated fuel or charge range on a regular basis.  Sometimes, due to a problem with the particular car or a mistake in the calculations of the rating, a vehicle does not perform in accordance with the estimated range.  

In the last several years two automakers have been at the center of fuel range/ electric charge range disputes.  Ford Motor Company overestimated the fuel and electric charge range of six of their models.  The vehicles in question included gas and hybrid models.  After the discovery, they lowered the fuel ratings for these models and began compensating customers.  Hyundai Motors and its sister company, Kia Motors, were implicated in a similar dispute when it was discovered that fuel ratings for eight of their vehicles had been overestimated.  They too began reimbursing customers.

Although these types of disputes often result in minimal compensation from the auto manufacturer, you may choose to pursue compensation under your states lemon law.  The overestimation of fuel rating and/or electric charge range is a misrepresentation made by the manufacturer.  As fuel economy is a major factor when deciding on an automobile, an incorrect rating is a substantial impairment to the consumer.  This substantial impairment can be the basis for a lemon law claim.  

If you have leased or purchased a vehicle with an incorrect fuel or electric charge range, call a lemon law attorney to discuss your case today.


Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Document Your Lemon Law Case and Other Concerns

Is your car always in the shop?  Does it have one problem or a variety of problems?  If you think that your vehicle may be a lemon, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified lemon law attorney.  It is also crucially important to gather evidence and document your problem as much as possible while your case is going on.  The more evidence you have of your complaints, the better off you will be when settling your claim. In addition to documenting you lemon law claim, there are also other things you should consider doing if you are involved in a lemon law case.

How to Document Your Lemon Law Claim

Take Pictures and Videos

You should use all of the technology available to you to document your lemon law claim.  Pull out your smart phone and take a few snap shots or record a video of your problem.

Repair Orders

You should always get a repair order when you bring your car in for work that is covered by warranty.  A repair order will show what your complaint was and what work was performed on the vehicle.  It is also important to make sure that the service staff are writing up your complaint correctly and not attempting to restate it to make it seem like the vehicle was brought in for a different problem.

Other Concerns

Regular Maintenance

Make sure you keep up with your vehicles regular maintenance such as oil changes, brake and tire maintenance and tune ups.  If you don’t keep up with regular maintenance it could have a negative impact on your case.

Miles

Don’t put a lot of miles on your car.  If you get a lot of use out of your vehicle as evidenced by a lot of miles, the other side may be able to use this against you.  You want to be able to show that you have not been able to get enough use out of your car due to the problems.

Trade-In

No matter how tempted you may be, don’t trade in your car.  If you do trade your car in you cannot recover for your losses under the state lemon law, but other avenues of recovery may be available. 

If you suspect that your car is a lemon, call an experienced Lemon Law attorney today for a consultation! 


Monday, June 23, 2014

Faulty Airbags Lead to Yet another Massive Recall

In 1998, a federal law went into effect requiring that all cars and trucks sold in the United States have airbags on both sides of the front seat. Despite the massive demand for airbag technology, just three major suppliers dominate the market. Defective airbags manufactured by one of these key players, Japanese supplier Takata have now caused three more automakers Honda, Nissan and Mazda to recall a total of almost three million vehicles. A breakdown of last week’s recall is as follows: 

Honda – 2.03 million vehicles (1.02 million in the United States). These models were built between 2000 and 2005 and include popular models such as the Civic, CR-V and Element. 

Nissan – 755,000 vehicles sold worldwide. These include the popular Pathfinder, Cube and Infiniti FX35 models manufactured between 2000 and 2003. 

Mazda - 160,000 vehicles (15,000 sold in the United States). The vehicles with the defective part were manufactured between 2002 and 2004 and include the popular Mazda 6 sedans. 

Over the past 5 years, nearly 10 million vehicles have been recalled due to these defective safety devices. Earlier this month, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles for the problem part. Last year, BMW recalled 3.6 million vehicles for the same problem with Takata-made airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contends that the airbags can rupture and injure passengers with flying shrapnel. 

Takata currently supplies airbags to seven major global automakers and many have speculated that Chrysler and Ford may soon issue their own recalls due to the defective safety device. The manufacturer believes that the issue occurred from moisture that seeped inside the inflators.  In addition to improperly storing the devices, Takata is being criticized for faulty record keeping which has forced automakers to widen recalls to ensure they are able to identify all affected vehicles. 

If you have recently purchased a new or used vehicle with defective safety gear including seatbelts, air bags, antilock brakes or accident avoidance systems in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you should contact a Lemon Law attorney for a consultation today.

 

 


Friday, June 20, 2014

Ford Overstates Fuel Economy of Vehicles Again

In March of this year, Ford discovered that it had overstated the fuel economy on a number of 2013 and 2014 vehicles.  The vehicles include the Fiesta and hybrids C-Max, C-Max Energi, Fusion, Fusion Energi and MKZ.  Ford found that errors in testing caused the overestimation of fuel economy. The fuel rating was found to be 5 miles per gallon lower than originally advertised in some cases.  After discovering the mistake, Ford claims to have notified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) immediately as they are responsible for certifying fuel ratings on vehicles. 

Ford has since lowered the fuel rating on the subject vehicles.  But, they still have to worry about compensating the consumers who purchased these vehicles under the impression that the fuel economy was higher.  Due to the price of gas these days, most customers are interested in fuel economy and might even buy a car based solely on that factor.  Ford has stated that they plan to compensate United States customers who purchased and leased the subject models. 

A representative from Ford has issued an apology to customers and reiterated the company’s commitment to producing fuel efficient vehicles.  The problem is that this is not the first time Ford has made this mistake.  Last year there was a similar issue with the C-Max.  But, customers would probably have liked Ford to get it right the first time.

If you have a question about lemon laws you should contact a reputable Lemon Law attorney for a consultation today.


Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 – The year of the recall?

Since the start of 2014, there have been nearly 20 million vehicle safety announcements issued by a long list of automakers around the world. General Motors Co, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler have all issued sizable recalls in the first half of the year; at this pace, the auto industry is on track to set a single year record for U.S. recalls. With growing concerns among consumers and mounting suspicions of automakers, President Obama has sent a bill to Congress that will substantially increase the civil penalties levied against automakers who fail to act swiftly to correct any potentially dangerous defects.

Currently, car manufacturers can be fined up to $35 million in civil penalties for recalls. Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation ordered GM to pay the maximum penalty following a recall of 2 million vehicles for ignition switch problems. The new bill, called the Grow America Act, would substantially increase the maximum fine from $35 million to $300 million for automakers who fail to act promptly on vehicle recalls.

In a public statement, the U.S. Department of Transportation explained that the bill is necessary to protect the public stating “The Grow America Act will strengthen safety regulators' ability to hold automobile manufacturers accountable for defects that can cost lives.”

In addition to increased civil penalties for automakers, the bill would grant the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to require rental car companies or used car dealers to participate in the recall of defective vehicles, ensuring the safety of unsuspecting consumers who may rent or purchase an unsafe vehicle. Several states have pending legislation which would also require that rental car carriers and used car dealers react swiftly to recall notices.

If passed, the bill would give the NHTSA the authority to require automakers to cease the sale of vehicles or repair already sold vehicles that pose an imminent threat to drivers’ safety.

If you’ve been the victim of an unsafe vehicle or have suffered from unfair practices by an automaker or dealer, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney. Attorney Abeel has spent years assisting clients with lemon law matters, breach of warranty cases and instances of dealer fraud. Call our offices at 888-830-1474 to schedule your free consultation.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

GM Seeks Protection from Bankruptcy Court in Ignition Defect Lawsuits

In the wake of the massive recall of 2.6 million small cars due to a deadly ignition switch problem, General Motors is bracing for an onslaught of lawsuits from car owners who claim that their cars lost value due to the recall. The auto giant is now turning to Bankruptcy Court for protection, claiming that the "bankruptcy shield" should protect the "New GM" from any economic loss claims. The company also claims that it should not be responsible for damages in accidents prior to the Chapter 11 filing.

GM’s Bankruptcy

In 2009, after years of losses and market share declines, General Motors filed for bankruptcy. The automaker’s trip to bankruptcy court resulted in the reorganization of the company and the emergence of a new, separate entity, informally named the “New GM” that now operates as General Motors Co. The bankruptcy proceedings helped GM to shed several plants, dealerships and a great deal of debt.

When the company filed for bankruptcy, it owed approximately $55 billion in debt; after the reorganization, the "new GM" owed just $17 billion. Along with residual debt, the "New GM" agreed to take on some of "Old GM's" legal liabilities including some warranty obligations and those for accidents that occurred after the bankruptcy but which involved vehicles manufactured before the bankruptcy. In the face of these new claims, however, the “New GM” contends that they are not responsible for these “economic loss” claims and they should not be on the hook for accidents that resulted in injuries prior to the reorganization.

Claims of Fraud Against the Auto Giant

While attorneys for GM have headed back to bankruptcy court asking the presiding judge to enforce part of the restructuring agreement, plaintiffs around the country are claiming that the bankruptcy shield should not be extended to the “New GM” because the company was aware of the defect and did not disclose this information. Some evidence suggests that the company knew about the defective switches as far back as 2001 but continued to install them in select vehicles. Plaintiffs who suffered losses as a result of these faulty parts claim that GM should have revealed the potential liability during the bankruptcy proceeding. GM is currently the subject of two congressional investigations trying to identify who in the organization knew about the defective parts, and why no action was taken sooner to protect consumers and fellow motorists.

Earlier this year, General Motors issued a recall of over 42,000 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles and just this week the embattled car giant recalled approximately 60,000 Saturn Aura sedans over transmission cables that can fracture. Attorney Timothy Abeel has dedicated his career to helping consumers in lemon law and breach of warranty claims. If you have purchased a new or slightly used car, and it is a lemon, you may be entitled to receive a full refund, new car or a partial refund. Call our offices at 888-830-1474 for a free consultation with a member of our experienced legal team.


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Timothy J. Abeel & Associates, P.C. represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, cities include but are not limited to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, Newark, and Trenton.



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© 2016 Timothy Abeel & Associates, P.C. | Disclaimer
25 Regency Plaza, Glen Mills, PA 19342
| Phone: 888-830-1474
309 Fellowship Road, East Gate Center, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

301 Grant Street, One Oxford Center, Suite 4300, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

101 Eisenhower Pkwy, Suite 300, Roseland, NJ 07068

About Us | Our Team | Do I Have A Case? | Auto Recalls

FacebookGoogle+TwitterYouTube

25 Regency Plaza, Glen Mills, PA 19342 | 309 Fellowship Road, East Gate Center, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
301 Grant Street, One Oxford Center, Suite 4300, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 | 101 Eisenhower Pkwy, Suite 300, Roseland, NJ 07068
Phone: 888-830-1474

888.830.1474