Everyone is familiar with the term “used cars.” We all know whether we set out to buy a new car or a used car. Generally, you will go to a big franchise dealership to buy a new car. For example, this would be your local Volkswagen dealership or your local Subaru dealership. The new car will have low mileage, be manufactured in the year that you are buying it (like the 2014 Dodge), have a manufacturers warranty, and not have any previous owners. For used cars, you will either head to a big dealership, or you might go to the small used car dealership down the road. Used cars will be more than a year old, have “higher” mileage, have previous owners, and may or may not come with a warranty. What most people don’t know is that Pennsylvania law has a legal definition of a used car and has different laws that protect you depending on the type of car you bought (i.e. new or used).
New Car vs. Used Car
For new cars, the law is simple. If you bought your car new, and it has a defect, Pennsylvania’s lemon law determines whether you have a claim. There are also other laws, like the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, that will protect you if your car has a warranty. Determining whether you have a lemon can be relatively easy if you have all of your work orders from the times you had the vehicle repaired. New car cases are typically filed against the manufacturer, not where you bought the car.
When it comes to used cars, Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law does not apply once the car is more than a year old and/or has more than 12,000 miles. Pennsylvania law defines a used car as any vehicle with a previous owner or any vehicle with more than 500 miles, not including miles transporting the vehicle from the manufacturer or from dealership to dealership. The laws protecting you are also not as cut and dry as Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law. For used cars, every factual scenario is different. You may be a victim of automobile sales fraud, odometer fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, violations of implied warranties, negligence, etc. Additionally, your case is against the dealership where you bought the car, not the manufacturer. If you bought a used car, and you think there is a problem, the best thing you can do is give us a call. We will help guide you in the right direction to determine whether you have a case.
Investigating Used Cars
As soon as we receive a call about a used car, the background investigation begins. The majority of used car cases involve some kind of auto sales fraud. This means the dealership committed some kind of fraud when they sold you the car. For example, Pennsylvania law says that if your used car has a certain history, like being a rental car, the dealership must tell you that before you buy it. If that is the case, we will find that information and begin to build a case for you. Typically for used cars, we also need to have the vehicle examined by a mechanic. We have certain mechanics that we work with who know how to review of vehicle looking for frame damage and other issues.
Similar to new car cases, our firm will often provide legal services to you at little to no cost. Depending on your specific case, you may be responsible for paying for the filing of the civil complaint. However, Pennsylvania law may permit the Court to make the dealership pay for our representation. That means you get our experience and representation for FREE until we win. Because of this limitation, we only accept used car cases for vehicles that are less than 10 years old and cost at least $5,000.00.