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Monday, September 24, 2007

Avoiding Auto Repair Rip-Offs

ATLANTA, GA (September 14, 2007) - According to the Consumer Federation of America, Americans spend billions of dollars per year on faulty or unnecessary automobile repairs. While most car repair shops are reliable, some employ mechanics who are not competent, and there are a number that intentionally try to defraud customers.

Auto repair rip-offs can range from charging for replacement parts that are never used to deliberate tampering with or destruction to the vehicle (e.g. cutting water hoses, puncturing tires). Some unethical repair shops will try to hook customers by advertising a super-low price on a particular service. When the mechanic examines the customer’s car he inevitably “discovers” additional problems that require repairs. These repairs are, in reality, unnecessary, but end up costing the customer a lot of money.

So if you are not car-savvy yourself, how can you protect yourself from auto repair fraud? The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs recommends taking the following steps:

Shop around for a mechanic before you need one so that when a car problem arises, you know where to go. Ask friends or family if they can recommend an honest, reliable mechanic with whom they have an established relationship.

Look for a repair shop that is endorsed by the American Automobile Association, adheres to the Motorist Assurance Program Standards of Service and has ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified mechanics.

Select a repair shop that is clean, organized and whose staff are professional and friendly.

Check out the repair shop with your local Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints lodged against them.

Ask if there will be a diagnostic charge.

Find out if repairs are guaranteed and for how long.

When you take your car in, write down a clear description of the problem and make sure that it’s given to the mechanic who will actually be working on your car. One expert suggests taping a copy to the car’s steering wheel to ensure that the mechanic sees it.

Get a written estimate before work begins.

Make sure the estimate states that the repair shop will call you before doing work if the cost will exceed a specified amount of money or if the work will include any repairs that were not previously agreed to.

For expensive or complicated repairs, consider getting a second or even a third opinion.

Tell the mechanic up front that you want them to return all replaced parts to you. This can help discourage an unscrupulous mechanic from charging you for parts they don’t actually use.

After the repairs are completed, get a written invoice/work order that specifies what repairs were done, the parts supplied, the cost of each part, labor charges, the date the work was done, and the vehicle’s odometer reading. Make sure to get any repair warranties in writing as well.

If you use your credit card to pay for the repairs, you can always dispute the charges when your credit card bill arrives, should there be any problem.

If you believe you have been the victim of auto repair fraud, report it to your local Better Business Bureau or contact an attorney for a free consultation regarding your situation.

From The Weekly, a Georgia neighborhood publication

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Friday, September 21, 2007

US, China To Share More Auto Safety Info After Tire Recall

WASHINGTON: The US government has agreed with China to improve information-sharing on auto safety in the aftermath of a recall of thousands of defective Chinese-made tires over the last several months. The ‘memorandum of understanding’ signed Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and China’s National Reform and Development Commission is intended to “strengthen cooperation and communication” on several motor vehicle regulation and safety issues. In June, NHTSA ordered a US importer, Foreign Tire Sales, to recall as many as 4,50,000 tires it had bought from Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber.

The importer initially said it did not have the financial resources to conduct a full recall, then announced in August that it would recall 2,55,000 tyres.

The recall involved steel-belted radial replacement tires for pickup trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles sold in the United States from early 2004 through mid-2006. The tires were recalled because they lacked a safety feature that prevents tread separation.

NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason said, “If we see a situation in the future where we need information from a Chinese manufacturer like we had with FTS, we can go straight to the Chinese government and ask them to reach out to the manufacturer.” Nason said given the interest expressed by Chinese automakers to sell vehicles in the United States in the future, “We think it’s valuable to have this agreement in place now.” The agreement outlines cooperation between the two countries on developing technical regulations, issuing consumer information, enforcing defects that compromise safety and reviewing the safety attributes of new vehicles.

Chinese auto safety officials were meeting with NHTSA staff this week to share information on regulations involving fuel economy, crash testing and the regulation of tires and vehicles. The agreement comes amid questions about the quality of Chinese toys, food and other products after a string of product recalls and import bans in recent months.

The Economic Times Report

Research your vehicles recalls and technical service bulletins.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Texas Man Sues Raiford For Lemon Pickup

Mike Stegall is claiming he was sold a "lemon" and is suing Ford Motor Co. and Raiford Motors, Inc., the dealership that sold him his F250 pickup truck.

With the help of an attorney, Stegall filed his deceptive trade practices lawsuit with the Jefferson County District Court on Sept. 12.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, on Aug. 29, 2003, Stegall purchased his truck from Raiford Motors for $39,421.

"At this time, defendant represented to plaintiff that such vehicle was safe, dependable and fit for the purpose for which it was marketed," the suit said. "Subsequent to the purchase of such vehicle, it became necessary for plaintiff to have certain repairs performed, which were covered by the vehicles warranty."

The suit goes on to say Stegall has taken the vehicle in for repairs 10 times since he purchased it.

The suit cites the Texas Lemon Law and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act as grounds for the lawsuit.

The Texas Lemon Law is a state law that helps consumers who have repeated problems getting new or leased vehicles properly repaired.

The suit also says the actions of the defendants were committed intentionally. "That is, defendants had actual awareness of the falsity, deception or unfairness of the act or practice, coupled with specific intent that plaintiffs act in detrimental reliance on the falsity or deception or in detrimental ignorance of the unfairness."

Stegall is suing for the cost of the truck and damages under the DTPA, plus all court costs.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. D180-016

David Yates - Reporter

For free legal help with a lemon in the state of Texas visit our Texas Lemon Law Website.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Chrysler Says Connecticut Profits From Lemon Law

HARTFORD -- A car manufacturer is trying in a court appeal to put a new twist on the state's Lemon Law.

Chrysler LLC, formerly DaimlerChrysler Corp., is seeking refunds on sales-tax equivalents it repays to consumers when the Lemon Law requires it to buy back defective automobiles, but it needs the state Supreme Court to clear the way to continue its legal arguments.

Chrysler is charging that the state government is penalizing the company and unjustly profiting from Chrysler's compliance with the Lemon Law.

The state tax department and a Superior Court judge both ruled against Chrysler. Now, the automaker is appealing to the state Supreme Court.

"It could be called the height of chutzpah for a car manufacturer that sells a defective car to seek repayment for the tax paid by the consumer," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

Under the Lemon Law, a buyer may return a defective new motor vehicle to a manufacturer, who must then provide a refund or comparable new vehicle and reimburse buyers for certain other charges, including sales taxes.

Chrysler says the fundamental question is one of equal treatment

"Chrysler is asking the Connecticut Supreme Court to refund the sales tax on repurchased vehicles to bring fairness to the process for consumers, retailers and manufacturers," said Elaine Lutz, a Chrysler spokeswoman.

She said a majority of states reimburse manufacturers for sales taxes refunded to consumers under their laws.

"Connecticut retailers are entitled to reimbursement of sales tax on refunds to consumers," Lutz said. "Chrysler is asking the state Supreme Court for the same treatment."

Potentially millions of dollars ride on the case. If Chrysler ultimately prevails, other car manufacturers will seek sales tax refunds, too.

Source: Republican American(online) September 3, 2007.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Law In Illinois Allows Car Dealers To Charge $150 In Fees

SPRINGFIELD, IL - Car buyers may soon pay $150 in fees when they purchase their new rides.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation Friday that will let a car dealer charge up to $150 for document fees, such as license transfer, tax and warranty forms, up from a maximum of $58.

Dealers insist the paperwork has skyrocketed. Dealers in at least 30 states charge from $400 to $900 in fees.

Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), the sponsor, said it is up to the dealer to decide whether to impose the higher fee.

"If they want to cut their deals or sell a product that's competitive, that's one of the ingredients they have to look at," he said.

Chicago Tribune Staff Article - 8/17/07

If you would like more information or have a question concerning Illinois Lemon Law protection or your consumer rights in Illinois, read more about Illinois Law.

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