STOP! If you purchased a vehicle in North Carolina and you believe a vehicle seller has failed to disclose any of the following to you about your vehicle, you will need a copy of your North Carolina vehicle title history from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV): salvage/total loss, flood damage, reconstructed vehicle, odometer rollback.
Please obtain your NCDMV vehicle history report BEFORE contacting Attorney John O’Neal; this could save time and aid in assessing the facts and merits of your case.
Knowledge is power! Click here to download your free report on “car law” and your rights regarding vehicle issues.
For most Americans, the second most expensive and valuable purchase is a motor vehicle. Whether it is a car, SUV, truck, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle, personal transportation is often vital to our ability to manage our daily activities and affairs. Vehicle problems can be a source of much frustration and financial expense. For tips in searching for a used vehicle, click here.
There has been a rise in the number of people reporting problems with their purchases from and dealings with smaller vehicle dealerships. If you have problems with your vehicle, new or used, you may have valuable legal rights and remedies.
At the O’Neal Law Office, knowledgeable Greensboro consumer rights attorney John O’Neal represents individuals having problems with vehicle purchases and leases and in disputes over vehicle repair. Substantial experience with a wide variety of civil litigation has equipped Attorney John O’Neal with the resources and practical knowledge it takes to effectively handle vehicle and consumer issues.
Contact the O’Neal Law Office today for your complimentary consultation concerning the following:
- Motor Vehicle Repair Act
- Diminished value
- Odometer rollback/fraud
- Yo-Yo sales
- Lemon Law
- Used car issues
- Undisclosed vehicle damage/wrecks
- Vehicle finance issues
Motor Vehicle Repair Act
Vehicle repairs can cost you time, money, and frustration. There are repair shops that do good work in an honest manner for a reasonable price. Hopefully one of these shops will handle your vehicle repairs. However, some repair facilities are less than professional and may add to your frustration by ripping you off! Car repair fraud takes place when the body shop installs used parts or recycled parts, but charges the customer for new parts. Consumers are often oblivious as to whether the parts were necessary or whether services were actually performed. Unfortunately, there are other ways that you can be victimized when you take your vehicle to the shop for repairs.
North Carolina law entitles the consumer to a written estimate when the cost of vehicle repairs will exceed $350.00. If the repair shop charges to prepare an estimate, the consumer has a right to decline an estimate. You have several other important rights regarding vehicle repair and, if you have to go to court to protect these rights, you may be entitled to recover your attorneys’ fees in addition to your actual damages. An experienced lawyer can help you resolve a situation of car repair fraud. Contact the O’Neal Law Office to help assess your situation.
If your vehicle is involved in a collision or otherwise sustains damage, your vehicle will be deemed either a total loss or eligible for repair. If the amount of damage exceeds 75% of the car’s fair market value, you are entitled to have the car declared a total loss. Diminished value occurs when your car sustains damage, but is not totaled, in an accident that was the fault of another driver. The insurance company agrees to pay for repairs to your vehicle based on the extent of damage and the age of the car. After the repairs are completed, your vehicle’s fair market value is almost always less than it was before the damage. This difference becomes obvious once you tell a potential buyer about the damage to your vehicle. If the vehicle is five years old or newer and the repairs exceed 25% of the vehicle’s fair market value, North Carolina requires you to disclose the damage to prospective buyers and lessees. If your vehicle has been damaged and repaired in a collision, be sure to think about the diminished value issue.
Many vehicle parts are replaced and repaired over the life of the vehicle. The one “part” that should remain is the odometer because it tells you the lifespan of the vehicle. Here are some ways you can protect yourself from odometer fraud when shopping for a vehicle:
- Ask to see the vehicle’s title. If the owner does not have the title or is reluctant to show it to you, this is a red flag.
- Ask to see the vehicle’s maintenance and inspection records. Review them to see if the dates of service and mileage figures make sense.
- Use the law of averages. The auto industry estimates the average driver puts 12,000 to 15,000 miles on a vehicle each year. If the mileage range on the vehicle is unusually low, ask questions and ask for vehicle service records.
- Ogle the odometer. On a mechanical (non-digital) odometer the numbers should be aligned. If the numbers are crooked or loose when you tap on the dashboard, the odometer may have been tampered with.
- Obtain a Carfax vehicle history report. This can tell you if the vehicle has been wrecked, salvaged, used as a lease, etc.
- Ask an expert. Hire a vehicle inspection expert to review the vehicle to assess if there are items of damage or wear-and-tear on the vehicle that are inconsistent with the mileage shown on the odometer.
Rolling back an odometer cheats the vehicle buyer out of valuable money. There are strict federal and state laws regarding tampering with an odometer as well as disclosure of vehicle mileage and violation of these laws can lead to civil damages, recovery of reasonable attorneys’ fees, and even criminal prosecution. If you have purchased a vehicle and want to check the mileage and ownership history on your vehicle, request a certified title history from the North Carolina DMV. Click here for the form to request your certified title history.
If you suspect you are the victim of odometer fraud, contact the O’Neal Law Office to discuss your case and your rights.
You have done your homework and found the vehicle that is right for you. You have signed the sales contract and the vehicle loan agreement. You have even secured insurance for your vehicle and had the 30-day tag placed on it or transferred your old license plate to the vehicle. The dealer gave you the keys to your vehicle and you have taken it off the lot but….a few days later you get a phone call from the dealership saying there was a mistake or a problem with the loan agreement. The representative demands you return to the dealership to sign a new loan agreement or return the vehicle immediately. What do you do?
This tactic is called spot delivery or a “yo-yo”. Do not return the vehicle. Do not drive your vehicle back to the dealership. Do not agree to sign any new loan agreement. The agreements you already signed are legally binding documents and you have valuable rights. Collect all documents that you signed regarding the vehicle. Contact your local NC DMV office and speak to a License and Theft officer. Consult a lawyer.
New cars cost more than used cars but they also come with warranties. These warranties are for your protection but they are not to be abused. If you have a major problem with your new vehicle, the dealer and manufacturer only get so many chances to fix the problem before the law requires them to replace or buy back your vehicle. The federal and state laws applying to new cars with defects (a/k/a “lemons”) can be hard to decipher. If you have leased or purchased a new vehicle and it has given you more headaches than happiness, it may be time to talk to a lawyer. Seek help from the O’Neal Law Office.
Used Car Issues
You can save money when you buy a used vehicle but if you do not do your homework you may buy yourself many headaches. Before buying a used vehicle, hire a reputable, licensed mechanic to inspect the vehicle. Even if the seller has all of the service records or the dealer places the vehicle through its own inspection process, you should strongly consider having your own inspection performed.
Often your purchase of a used car is “as is” with no warranty. This means that you could get stuck if you do not do your due diligence prior to buying the vehicle. There are legal protections, however, that may apply even in the case of “as is” sales. If your used car has used up all your patience, contact the O’Neal Law Office for a free consultation.
Need a copy of your vehicle’s title history? Carfax and Autocheck provide some information but the state Division of Motor Vehicles or equivalent agency has the official and most complete history of your vehicle’s title transfers and designations. The vehicle title history is an essential document in properly evaluating and investigating any potential claims you have regarding your vehicle. Click here to download the form to request a copy of the official NC DMV title history for your vehicle.
Undisclosed vehicle damage/wrecks
Millions of vehicles are sold each year with undisclosed prior wreck damage. Could yours be one of these vehicles? Titling and disclosure requirements vary from state to state and there is an ongoing problem of consumers purchasing vehicles in North Carolina without being told of the salvage or total loss status of the vehicle. These failures to disclose result in thousands of dollars of additional profit to sellers and a wealth of headaches for buyers. For a relatively small fee you can check your vehicle’s VIN against a federal database designed to provide odometer history, title data, and salvage/total loss history for consumers. You can also utilize CarFax or Autocheck to obtain information on your vehicle’s history. You should do your homework before you purchase your vehicle but if you learn of a problem after the purchase you may still have valuable legal rights. If you find yourself the owner of a vehicle with undisclosed damage contact Attorney John O’Neal to schedule a free consultation about your situation.
Vehicle finance issues
Some dealers use tactics to get more money from you for that vehicle…..more money than they are legally entitled to, that is! Hidden charges, improperly disclosed fees, illegal interest rates and loan charges, forms and agreements that do not meet state or federal guidelines are a few examples of abuses that lead to more headaches and less money for you. Be sure to read ALL documents before you sign especially those documents pertaining to you paying money for a vehicle or vehicle-related items. Ask questions and if the dealer is unwilling to provide you a solid answer be prepared to walk away from the deal.
If you believe you have been overcharged or are being overcharged for your vehicle do not delay in contacting Attorney John O’Neal as some claims have very short statutes of limitation. When you contact Attorney John O’Neal be sure to have all of your documentation available for review and discussion of your situation.
Special case of the military
Our country has thousands of men and women who serve proudly defending the rights and freedoms we enjoy. Too often unscrupulous dealerships and car salespersons take advantage of servicemembers by putting them in high interest car loans, selling them clunker vehicles, failing to disclose significant vehicle damage, misrepresenting important facts, and committing other unethical and illegal acts. Attorney John O’Neal is originally from New Bern, North Carolina—which is located between Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point MCAS—and is well aware of the importance of the mission of the United States military and the need for them and their families to be protected in their consumer purchases. Military personnel and their families do not need undue distractions and burdens during deployment or commitment. The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act provides certain valuable rights which could protect a man or woman in uniform. If you are a member of the United States military and believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud or misdealing, contact Attorney John O’Neal for a free initial consultation. And thank you immensely for your service to our country!