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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  Lawyer
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We just bought a used Chevy 2001 S10 Crew Cab truck from a

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We just bought a used Chevy 2001 S10 Crew Cab truck from a used car dealership on Friday. Saturday we took it on its first long trip to visit family. Then after 122 miles of driving the service engine light came on and a few minutes later we started smelling smoke and seeing smoke. So we took the nearest exit off the interstate and when we parked the truck we noticed that the back passenger rear tire was on fire. Police and Fire truck came and extinquished the fire. We had to tow the truck to a near by Pep Boys and we had to stay overnight in a hotel. What should our next steps be? Should we take the car to a dealership near the hotel? Or should we get it towed home (which is 122 miles away)? Or should we get it fixed by Pep Boys and then have the used car dealership reimburse us?
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

Did the seller give you a safety inspection certificate? Did you purchase a warranty with the vehicle?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, both. The truck had a safety inspection certificate on the windshield at the time of purchase. Also, the truck came with a 3 month 4,500 mile warranty for only engine and transmission related repairs - I believe (we don't have the warranty with us - it is at home right now).

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Lucy,


 


Did you get our last message. We need to know what to do because we just checked out of our hotel and we have no where to go because we are in Fredericksburg, VA and live in Edgewood, MD.Thanks for your help.

Thank you.

I really can't promise that the dealer will pay for the tow, if you have the vehicle taken to them. That is something that would need to be discussed with them. Even if you can verify that the problem should be covered by the warranty, there may be limits on how much towing they will cover. You may also want to check to see if covered repairs must be done by the dealer - if so, they may refuse to reimburse you. I realize that the warranty is over 100 miles away - is there anyone who can look at it for you? Can you have someone from the dealer fax it to wherever you are so you can review it?

The problem is determining what is covered by the warranty, and the issue of what is actually wrong with the vehicle. If the tire caught fire because of something in the road, or because of a problem with the tire, that's not something that the dealer would pay for. Generally, the sale of a used-car is as-is, and they don't need to pay for anything not covered by the warranty. So, the first step is to look at the estimate you go to see what they are saying caused the problem. What you've describe doesn't sound like an engine or transmission-related issue. If you have the vehicle towed to the dealer to fix something that isn't covered by the warranty, you may find yourself needing to pay for the repairs + the tow. If you haven't already done so, the next step is probably to call the dealer - most car dealers are open on Sunday.

If the problem is something that should be covered by the warranty and the warranty doesn't require that you let the dealer fix it, then the dealer would need to reimburse you for the costs of repair. If they refuse, you would have the option of suing in Small Claims Court.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Lucy,


 


 


We just called the used car dealership but they are closed today. Pep boys said the fire started because the brake on the driver's side rear locked up which caused the passenger rear side brake to have to compensate for the loss of braking power on the driver's side rear tire and the passenger rear side brake set fire. Is that a safety inspection violation? The vehicle had a safety inspection that the used car dealership claimed had passed inspection.

It's only a violation if there is some reason that a person doing a safety inspection should know that the brakes were going to lock up. That means that there would have had to be something at the time of the inspection to tip them off. To recover, you would need evidence from a mechanic that the safety inspection should have revealed the problem and that the vehicle should not have passed.

If it turns out that the inspection would have shown the problem and the dealer fraudulently passed it anyway, then you would be entitled to a refund of whatever it costs to fix the vehicle. That's fraud. You may also be able to have the contract invalidated and get back whatever you spent.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

One last thing. The tow truck driver mentioned to us yesterday that the dust shield on the driver's side rear axle was rusted off. I took photos of the missing dust brake shield as well. That same axle is where the brake lock up occurred. Brake dust can cause an axle to lock up and catch fire just like ours' did yesterday. Pep Boys did state that not having a brake dust shield in place is negligence on the part of the dealership. We could get that in writing from one of the mechanics of Pep Boys. We are also going to have Pep Boys save the passenger side brake dust shield and the original parts of the brake system that are being replaced. If we take those steps would we be able to pursue litigation against the used car dealership?

if they're saying that the vehicle should not have passed the inspection because of the missing shield, that could help your case, yes. Otherwise, they don't have to disclose the missing shield, unless they are specifically asked.
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