Car Sale Law / Car Dealer LawSaturday, February 14th, 2009
There are numerous laws and regulations that apply to car dealers. Some laws apply to sales, others to leases, and yet others only to financing. I address in this post only a few potential claims, or causes of action, against a car dealer for improper tactics used when selling or leasing a vehicle.
State “UDAP” Statutes – Each state is likely to have its own “UDAP,” or unfair and deceptive acts or practices, statute to protect consumers. These UDAP statutes generally protect consumers from fraudulent, unconscionable, unfair, or deceptive consumer transactions. They usually apply to a broad range of consumer transactions, including those related to vehicle sales, leasing, and financing. The Texas general UDAP statute is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act (“DTPA”).
Fraud – Fraud is a claim available for consumers when a car dealership essentially lies about or fails to provide sufficient information to a consumer regarding a material fact related to the sale or lease of a car or truck. A material fact is generally a fact which would be important to the average consumer. The mileage of a vehicle, a vehicle’s title being branded as “salvage,” and a vehicle previously being flooded are some examples of material facts.
Negligence – A car dealer owes certain duties to customers when selling or leasing vehicles. If a car dealer breaches, or fails to fulfill, those duties, it can be liable to a car buyer for resulting damages.
State Statutory Finance Claims – Many states have laws in place to protect consumers from certain types of finance fraud, and also the charging of usurious (unlawfully high) interest rates. Some such laws also protect consumers from “cash price violations,” or improper charges being included in the amount financed.
Federal Odometer Act – The Federal Odometer Act is is a narrow federal law that protects consumers from those who tamper with a vehicle’s odometer. The Act provides for damages and attorneys’ fees for a consumer affected by someone rolling back the miles on a car or truck purchased by the consumer.
This is just a brief summary of some laws and causes of action available to consumers in the car fraud context. Every case is different, and you should contact a lawyer regarding your specific situation.