Do I Have An Auto Fraud Claim?

A vehicle that is more than 1 year old and/or has more than 12,000 miles on it is not covered by Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law.  If you buy a used car that suffers from one or more defects, you must rely on Pennsylvania’s Auto Fraud protections in order to recover from the dealership.  Unlike the Lemon Law, which is contained in one specific area of the Pennsylvania Statutes, the Auto Fraud Protections are found in a few different areas of the law.  There are four common Auto Fraud areas of Pennsylvania Law:

  1.  The Automotive Industry Trade Practices Act;
  2. Magnuson Moss Warranty Act;
  3. Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law; and
  4. Pennsylvania’s Uniform Commercial Code.

Automotive Industry Trade Practices Act

Anytime we receive a phone call, or email, about a bad used car purchase, we look first to the Automotive Industry Trade Practices Act (“AITP”).  The AITP lays out certain requirements related to the advertisement and the sale of the used vehicle.  Everyone has heard of false advertising.  The AITP is Pennsylvania’s law against false advertising in relation to a vehicle.  The dealership cannot tell you that a car has certain features if it doesn’t.

The one area of the AITP that is most useful is the disclosure section.  This section requires used car dealerships to disclose certain conditions to you prior to selling you the car.  In other words, if the car has a bad transmission or frame damage, the dealership has to tell you about that BEFORE you buy the car.  We had a case once where the dealership sold a car to our client with a frame that was as thin as paper in some places.  The dealership attempted to argue that the damage arose after sale.  We won that case for $14,000.00.

A final useful section of the AITP refers to “As-Is” sales.  A dealership cannot simply sell you a vehicle without a warranty and call it “As-Is.”  The AITP places specific steps that the dealership must follow.  When the dealership fails to follow each step (and more of them do), the dealership cannot hide behind the “As-Is” clause and deny liability.

The AITP provides a lot of protection for a used car buyer, which is why we turn to it as much as possible.  In coming weeks, we will talk about the other three areas of Pennsylvania Law that protect consumers from Auto Fraud.

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