Consumer Protection Law
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Hi! LegalGems here. I have extensive consumer law experience and will use this to assist you with your issue today. I am sorry to hear of this. A few moments please as I look into a few of these issues.
Let me review the case law in VA to see if the Lemon Law pertains. Generally it has to go to a serious safety issue. A few moments please.
The case (Subaru v. Peters) does not help, as it only allows for extensions beyond the 18 month period if the vehicle was in the shop for an extended time period for the life threatening issues, thus requiring an extension of the 18 month period. If there was no As Is sticker, and since the car in fact had a warranty, there are a couple possible causes of action. The first would be breach of warranty, for failing to repair the driver door window. Damages would be the cost to have this fixed. However, that sounds like it is only part of the issue, as it sounds as if the damages were not disclosed during the purchase. The problem becomes one of proof- that the seller knew (or, with the exercise of due diligence, should have known) of the prior accident. For example, if this was purchased at an auction and the accident was not disclosed on the vehicle history report, the seller would have no way of knowing of the prior accident. However, if, based on the seller's experience, a reasonable person in that position should have noticed the damage, and should have realized this indicated prior accident/issue, then the knowledge may be "imputed" to the seller. Generally, a CPO warranty is rather detailed, and makes different guarantees/warranties. The first thing to do would be to get a vehicle report to see if there was an accident. If so, this would add further substance to the contention that the dealer misrepresented the condition of the car. Let me look into one statute to see if it's applicable.
Back to the proof issue- if it can be proven that the dealer knew of the prior accident, then the Virginia Deceptive Trade Practices Act would be applicable. This allows for actual damages, and for a fine up to $1,000 for willful violation, plus attorney fees and costs.
The dealer claims they had a clean CarFax report but I've had the vehicle in for routine maintenance including a recent 65k multi-point inspection and service. The problem lies in the entire door panel and possibly beyond. According to pre-purchase, something of that magnitude should have been detected in their so called 'rigorous certification process'. Even if CarFax had no prior report of this type of damage, it seems as if it should have been easily detected
That is what my thoughts were as generally these CPO's have a very detailed and exhaustive checklist. If this was in fact an item that was checked then that would seem to indicate duplicity. I know some CPOs claim over 100 items on the checklist so I would be surprised if a comprehensive body inspection was not included (and a rust inspection would likely involve looking at the undercarriage). However, I don't want to mislead you, and as a judge is an individual, it will come down to his/her conception of "due diligence" and what is "reasonably discoverable". However, the more evidence that exists the better (so I would double check CarFax because if there is a report, that adds more evidence and goes to the "willful"ness addressed in the statute). Then, of course, if there is an itemized checklist indicating the seals were checked, undercarriage, etc, that further supports the contention that they were purposely misrepresenting the car, and could lead to "fraud in the inducement" - knowingly concealing vital/material information so the other party will sign the contract.
You can search here to see if other consumers had similar issues with this dealer: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/ComplaintTopicSelector/search And generally, the first step is to send a demand letter to the dealer, with supporting documentation (ie mechanic's statement), outlining the problem and the issues, proposing a resolution. If the dealer is reluctant/refuses to negotiate, then you would need to file suit. Keep in mind that generally an court will deduct, from any damage award, the cost of the reasonable use of the vehicle- usually a mile surcharge.
http://www.cars.com/go/advice/shopping/cpo/manufacturer.jsp?aff=national - here is the checklist used by the various manufacturer's so you can see if this issue is covered by your CPO.
Thank you for your help. I will look at those web-sites as well. The dealer has not called me back yet (we have known about this issue since earlier this afternoon). The service manager was discussing this with the GM. The lack of response on their part indicates to me that they have found themselves in quite a pickle. Hopefully, this can be resolved without too much hassle from them.
I sure hope so. Nothing like paying extra for a car for peace of mind only to have that blown out the window. If it's noticeable enough for a mechanic to notice right off, one would think a dealer would also!
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