A disturbingly high number of new and used vehicle purchases by consumers involve fraud, deception, and misrepresentation.  Violations come in many different forms, but no matter how it happens and no matter what a dealer or manufacturer tells you, auto fraud violates South Carolina law. You should have a consumer attorney on your side to navigate the complex process and fight for you.

Fraud in Sales of Used Cars
 

Countless individuals are victims of fraud and misrepresentation in the sales of used vehicles by dealerships.  Common examples include:

  • False statements by the dealership about the condition, history and qulty of a used car.

  • Failing to disclose salvage, total loss, or previous wreck history.

  • Misrepresenting or lying about a warranty coming with the sale of a car.

  • Dealership doesn't deliver title to the car, or you cannot register the vehicle;

  • Falsely promising to fix items on the car.

There is no used car Lemon Law, but that doesn't means you're not protected. If a dealership tells you that because you bought a "As-Is" anything that happens to the car is your problem, it's false.

Countless individuals are victims of fraud and misrepresentation in the sales of used vehicles by dealerships.  Common examples include:

  • False statements by the dealership about the condition, history and qulty of a used car.

  • Failing to disclose salvage, total loss, or previous wreck history.

  • Misrepresenting or lying about a warranty coming with the sale of a car.

  • Dealership doesn't deliver title to the car, or you cannot register the vehicle;

  • Falsely promising to fix items on the car.

There is no used car Lemon Law, but that doesn't means you're not protected. If a dealership tells you that because you bought a "As-Is" anything that happens to the car is your problem, it's false.

South Carolina law forbids car dealership from using unfair or deceptive actions in selling you a car.  This law (South Carolina Code 56-15-10) allows a consumer to sue a dealership and recover double actual damages, up to three times actual damages for punitive damages, and allows for the recovery of costs and attorney's fees.

South Carolina law bars businesses from using unfair or deceptive methods in conducting business with consumers (South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, South Carolina Code 39-5-10).  If a consumer can prove a business harmed them by use of an unfair trade practice, a consumer may be entitled to three time actual damages, plus attorney's fees and costs.

Lemon Law
 

Is there a lemon law in South Carolina?  The answer is yes, and the South Carolina Lemon Law (South Carolina Code 56-28-10, et seq.) appears straightforward: the law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, van or truck) that:

  • has a defect that impairs its use or will lower the market value substantially; and

  • which the manufacturer cannot repair within a reasonable time.

What makes a car a lemon? A "defect" is anything that substantially impairs a vehicle's use, market value or safety. 

Warranties

What can you do if a vehicle warranty is not being honored? How do you enforce a warranty?  Are you protected by law for a warranty not being honored?

Federal and State law protect you when a warranty you count on is not upheld by the company who issues it to you.  

Warranties can be in writing or verbal. New cars usually come with a written warranty from the Manufacturer. If you are sold an Extended Warranty with a new car, you need to understand the exact coverage it provides in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty. Used cars may have warranties provided by the Dealer or by a third party Service Contract, or be sold AS-IS. Used cars must have a Used Car Guide attached to the window of the vehicle when placed on the lot for sale.

The South Carolina Commercial Code provides for certain remedies for defects in the goods that are sold, or in warranties that fail to correct the defects. These warranties can be found at SC Code 36-2-313 and 314, and in sections 714 and 715.

The Federal Magnuson-Moss Act 15 USC 2301 provides for recovery of costs and attorney’s fees for breach of a written warranty covering a consumer good.

 
Financing and Truth in Lending
 

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is a Federal Law that protects you against inaccurate and unfair credit billing and credit card practices. It requires lenders to provide you with:

  • Loan cost information so that you can comparison shop for certain types of loans;

  • What credit will cost the borrowers;

  • When charges will be imposed; and

  • What the borrower's rights are as a consumer.

The Federal Truth in Lending Act is intended to ensure that credit terms are disclosed in a meaningful way so consumers can compare credit terms more readily and knowledgeably. Before its enactment, consumers were faced with a bewildering array of credit terms and rates. It was difficult to compare loans because they were seldom presented in the same format. Now, all creditors must use the same credit terminology and expressions of rates.

If a creditor misrepresents or make false statements to you about terms of credit including interest rate, length of the contract or monthly payments, or fails to disclose any of these terms to you, they have violated the law.

Car dealerships also have engaged in "yo-yo sales" of vehicles to consumers. A "yo-yo sale" is where a dealership sells a vehicle to a consumer on credit, lets them take the vehicle home, but tells them day or weeks later that they have to return the vehicle because they were not approved for credit.  Even with a signed contracts, dealerships may forcible attempt to regain possesion of the vehicle.  Such conduct is illegal and violates South Carolina law.  

Odometer Fraud & Mileage Rollbacks
 

Odometer fraud is illegal. But that doesn't mean car dealers don't do it. Far too many car buyers have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous and deceptive car dealers who will do anything to maximize their profits — including rolling back odometers or not telling you when they know that the odometer has been rolled back.

The Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, also referred to as the Odometer Act, makes it illegal for car dealers to tamper with odometers, sell odometer fraud devices or operate a vehicle knowing the odometer is not functioning. In addition, the law requires dealers to disclose the odometer reading and state whether or not the reading is accurate. If a vehicle repair results in a change in the odometer reading, certain procedures must be followed.

If you were defrauded by a dealer who tampered with or rolled back your car's odometer, or failed to disclose the fact that the odometer reading was incorrect, you may be able to recover three times your actual damages or $10,000 — whichever is greater — and have your attorneys fees and legal costs covered. States also have separate laws on odometer tampering that may give you more rights.

Most people do not realize their odometer has been tampered with until they try to sell it. The dealership will check the vehicle history report and discover a discrepancy between odometer readings. Mechanics may also be able to tell if an odometer has been rolled back. If your car has a lot of wear and tear but low mileage, if screws are missing from the dashboard area around the odometer, or if parts are needing to be replaced that would normally last longer, you may be the victim of odometer fraud.

CONTACT US.

Address

160 Hidden Hill Rd.

Spartanburg, SC 29301

 

Email

visitor@alfordlaw.com

Phone

864-574-0870

 

Information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Nothing contained herein should be construed to create an attorney-client relationship between Hart Consumer Law, LLC and any website visitor. Submission of information to Hart Consumer Law, LLC through this website will not create an attorney-client relationship between a website visitor and Hart Consumer Law, LLC.