Getting Wheels

4

My local paper recently ran a story about some salespeople at a car dealership who fleeced a mentally ill man who came to the dealership with $30,000 in cash. They sold him a truck (worth much less), went to his apartment to steal the rest of his money, and then one bought the truck back at a big profit. Needless to say, they are being prosecuted. How drugs and greed tainted auto dealership, Seattle Times, Feb. 9, 2007.

That’s a horrible story, but what’s link to self-help law? What caught my eye was a sidebar: Legal recourse limited in state for remorseful buyers of autos.

Roadster - little redI thought that, since a car is one of the biggest purchases most people make (second only to a house, and many people never buy a house!), it might be worth listing some resources about buying cars.

Automobiles: An FTC Guide for Consumers has a range of information about buying cars (used and new), having cars repaired, and so on. See Tips for Buying a Used Car for the basics on that topic. Understanding Vehicle Financing walks you through the mysteries of credit. And there’s Vehicle Repossession to explain the unfortunate end of some car deals. The Federal Trade Commission’s regulations are in 16 CFR (if you want to get into the hard-core legalese). Cars come up a lot:

  • GUIDES FOR THE REBUILT, RECONDITIONED AND OTHER USED AUTOMOBILE PARTS INDUSTRY, 16 CFR 20
  • GUIDE CONCERNING FUEL ECONOMY ADVERTISING FOR NEW AUTOMOBILES, 16 CFR 259
  • AUTOMOTIVE FUEL RATINGS, CERTIFICATION AND POSTING, 16 CFR 306
  • LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR ALTERNATIVE FUELS AND ALTERNATIVE FUELED VEHICLES, 16 CFR 309
  • USED MOTOR VEHICLE TRADE REGULATION RULE, 16 CFR 455

One regulation you might overlook is RULE CONCERNING COOLING-OFF PERIOD FOR SALES MADE AT HOMES OR AT CERTAIN OTHER LOCATIONS, 16 CFR part 429. It gives buyers three business days (a “cooling-off period”) to cancel certain sales. Section 429.1 says it applies to “any door-to-door sale.” Cars aren’t sold door to door, BUT section 429.0 defines “Door-to-Door Sale” to include sales “made at a place other than the place of business of the seller (e.g., sales at the buyer’s residence or at facilities rented on a temporary or short-term basis. . .).” The Seattle Times article pointed out that this includes those “tent sales” where car dealers set up on parking lot near a shopping mall, offering balloons, hot dogs, and (ostensibly) great deals.

And of course, all of the regulations concerning advertising, warranties, and credit practice apply to automobile advertising, warranties, and credit practices too.

Throughout Automobiles: An FTC Guide for Consumers, the FTC notes that there are areas governed by state law, which can, of course, vary from state to state. For instance Buying a Used Car says, “Some states, including Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, don’t allow ‘as is’ sales for many used vehicles.” So it’s important to check your own state. Often the attorney general’s office will have information, like this page from Washington’s AG, that includes:

  • Before You Buy
  • Buying Precautions
  • Shopping for a Vehicle
  • Buying a Used Vehicle
  • Leasing
  • Signing the Contract
  • Lemon LawLemon car
  • Auto Repair
  • Tips for Buying
  • Tips for Leasing
  • Resources

There are links to all the state attorneys general here. Also remember to check for your state’s link in LawHelp.org.

The National Consumer Law Center is one group to watch. Its “Action Agenda” includes:

AUTO FRAUD An astonishing percentage of car sales involve fraud, deception, or unfair conduct. Consumers are sold new or used cars that are “lemons” or are defrauded by dealers who do not fully disclose the car’s wreck or salvage history, its prior use as a rental car, history of mechanical problems, or other defects.

The National Consumer Law Center is currently co-counsel in a number of cases on discrimination in car financing.See: Litigation.

4 Comments

  1. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » turning your lemon into lemonade

    February 12, 2007 @ 10:43 am

    1

    […] update (Feb. 12, 2007): See Mary Whisner’s fuller treatment of information about buying vehicles in her shlep post Getting Wheels (Feb. 11, 2007) […]

  2. AutoMuse » Blawg Review # 95

    February 12, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    2

    […] David Giacalone has some meaningful information for people involved in accidents who want to handle the matter without the assistance (and cost) of an attorney.    DG must have a great sense of humor as the blawg is titled:  “shlep – the Self-Help Law ExPress”.  He also has an excellent post on how consumers can protect themselves in a used car purchase.  Although, Giacalone’s post contains much useful information for buying vehicles, the gigantic problem with the whole used car world is that there are NO standards dictating how vehicles are permitted to be repaired and NO used motor vehicle standards dictating “lifecycle motor vehicle safety” throughout a vehicle’s lifetime. […]

  3. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » UK p/i lawyers oppose increase in small claims limits

    February 12, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

    3

    […] Our thanks to EL Eversman, at AutoMuse, for including our posting last week on personal injury self help law in Blawg Review #95, which was posted today.  Mary Whisner’s posting on buying wheels is also listed in BR#95.  As always, you will find listings to many fins, recent law-related postings in this week’s Blawg Review.  Each Monday, you can find another “best of the blogs“ round-up at Tim Kevan’s The Barrister Blog, which also pointed to our p/i self-help post this morning. […]

  4. geseeloVeisse

    October 27, 2009 @ 4:03 am

    4

    I want to donate my car to a charity. I do want to recieve a tax deduction, but I don’t want it to go to just any charity I would very much like my car to go to a needy family. I am in the Houton area. Can anybody help me or have any sugestions.

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