AutoNation Accused of Selling Unsafe, Unrepaired Vehicles to Consumers
According to reporting from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, consumer advocacy groups are accusing AutoNation—one of the largest sellers of pre-owned vehicles in Florida—of violating certain consumer safety laws.
A report released by United States PIRG Education Fund and other pro-consumer organizations contends that AutoNation is selling unrepaired vehicles that have been subject to product safety recalls. In some cases, these vehicles are considered to be dangerous. Here, our West Palm Beach business & consumer fraud lawyers provide an overview of the allegations raised against AutoNation and we explain the limited extent to which Florida’s consumer laws protect people who purchase used cars.
Allegations: AutoNation Offering Unsafe Used Cars
The authors of the report state that they reviewed the purchase of 2,429 used cars that were sold by AutoNation dealers across the country in the summer of 2019. Notably, many of these vehicles were sold in Florida.
Of the vehicles assessed, the group claims that more than ten percent had active, unrepaired product recalls. As an example, the consumer groups cited two AutoNation dealerships in Palm Beach County, FL. Together, the dealerships sold at least 15 vehicles with open recalls that were unrepaired and unaddressed. Among other examples, the South Florida dealerships allegedly sold vehicles with:
- Unrepaired fire hazards;
- Faulty seat belts; and
- Serious power steering defects.
For its part, AutoNation denied the allegations. In a written response provided to reporters, AutoNation indicated that it is in complete compliance with all relevant federal and state regulations.
Florida’s ‘Lemon Laws’: Explained
The allegations at issue here raises an important question: Is a car dealership guilty of fraud when it sells an unsafe or unrepaired pre-owner vehicle to consumers? This is a complicated question. As with many legal issues, the answer is ‘it depends’.
Though, unfortunately for Florida consumers, there are very limited legal protections that apply to the purchase of pre-owned vehicles. As a general rule, these cars are not protected by ‘lemon laws’. A lemon is a term used to describe a defective vehicle. In Florida, lemon laws typically only apply to new cars.
That being said, all car dealers in Florida are prohibited from making material misrepresentations to consumers. If a used car dealer gave you false information with the intention of inducing a purchase, you can file a civil fraud claim to seek compensation for your damages.
As an example, if you were falsely informed that certain repairs were made, that misrepresentation may be legally actionable. Still, proving fraud in a pre-owned vehicle case can be challenging. If you believe you were defrauded, you should contact an experienced attorney for immediate assistance.
Call Our Florida Consumer Fraud Lawyers Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida business & consumer fraud attorneys are aggressive advocates for our clients. If you suffered major fraud losses, we are ready to help. For a confidential, no obligation review of your fraud claim, please contact us right away. With offices in West Palm Beach and Miami, we represent clients around the region.