Consumers for
Auto
Reliability and
Safety ®

C.A.R.S. Activities 2017

 
Consumer Advocates Urge Investigation of Mystery BMW Fires
ABC News
May 17, 2017
by Cindy Galli, Stephanie Zimmerman, and Cho Park
 
ABC News exposes BMW mystery fires
"Officials from two leading auto safety organizations are calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency tasked with investigating potential defects, to investigate a series of fires in parked BMWs following an ABC News report last week.

Meanwhile, several new consumer complaints from BMW owners reporting similar incidents have appeared in NHTSA's database and on BMW owners' blogs in the past several days.

Calling the 43 fires uncovered by ABC News 'disturbing,' Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said NHTSA should take a serious look at the reports.

'They definitely should,' Shahan said. 'They should be investigating and getting documents from BMW and find out what's going on.'"

Read more: Consumer advocates urge investigation of mystery BMW fires
 
 
CARS Raises Safety Concerns about
Premature Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles
 
"Intersections"
California Treasurer Chiang's Forum for Exploring California Policy and Politics
 
"Autonomous Mayhem"
"California's DMV is close to finalizing rules to allow auto manufacturers and tech companies to sell semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars to consumers.

Reportedly, auto manufacturers, Google, Uber, and other tech companies foresee hundreds of billions of dollars a year in profits. Not just in selling a new generation of vehicles, but also in tracking you, compiling your personal data, and targeting you for marketing as you ride along. Plus the vast cost-savings from eliminating millions of jobs held by drivers and truckers..."

Read more: "Autonomous Mayhem: Head-to-Head between safety advocate and CEO of Alliance of Auto Manufacturers"

CARS comments to California DMV raises safety concerns about premature deployment of autonomous vehicles
 
 
CARS is leading efforts to educate the public about
the impact of safety recall settlements with car dealers
 
"Check for Recalls before You Buy a Used Car"
"New legal settlement means used cars for sale with
safety recalls may become more common"
By Consumer Reports
April 21, 2017
 
"On Friday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced settlements with 104 car dealerships that sold vehicles with unresolved safety recalls without informing the buyers.

New York Attorney General Schneiderman's settlements allow dealers to continue selling unsafe recalled deathtrap cars with "disclosure."
The settlements allow dealers to continue to market and sell used cars with open safety recalls as long as they disclose the issue in their advertising and in showrooms before the sale.

It's the latest wrinkle in a consumer-unfriendly trend that has opened up the sale of more potentially unsafe used cars to the public.

The settlements with the dealerships come weeks after the Federal Trade Commission finalized settlements allowing auto dealer companies to market used cars with unresolved safety recalls, as long as they provide a general statement in advertising that the cars might be subject to a recall.

The FTC settlements from March require used car dealers tell customers how to check for open safety recalls. It's unclear, however, if the FTC will require dealers to disclose open recalls they already know about...

Consumer advocates, who had called for an outright ban on this practice, say that the recent FTC settlements could encourage more dealers to sell cars that are unsafe.

They're allowing car dealerships to mislead buyers about the safety of their cars, says Rosemary Shahan, president of the California-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, which is suing the agency in federal court. Two other groups are also part of the lawsuit — the Center for Auto Safety and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

Read more: Consumer Reports: New legal settlement means used cars for sale with safety recalls may become more common
 
 
"E-Contract Abuse Alert:
How Car Dealers Can Fake Your Auto Loan"
Forbes
April 14, 2017
By Diana Hembree
 
"Last December Tanisha Coley was window-shopping at a Kia car dealership in Stamford, Conn., when she decided to fill out a credit application to see whether she had enough credit to buy a car. As a 39-year-old student and mother of five who was working part-time, Coley was in the market for a reliable used auto. After looking around for a while, she left without buying anything. But a few weeks later, Coley was stunned to find her credit report said she had taken out an auto loan of $28,000.

Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D-Van Nuys) is pushing legislation that would make it easier for crooked dealers and lenders to cheat consumers.
Devastated, Coley began frantically calling the bank and other places to find out what had happened. Getting no answers, she and her fiancé went to the Kia dealership where she had supposedly bought a 2013 Mazda. 'I said, "Well, where’s the car?" And they looked really nervous and told me it had been sold to someone else.'

How did Coley end up with a loan for a car she never bought? According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf, the Kia car loan was “electronically booked” on December 12 without Coley’s knowledge by Credit Acceptance Corporation, a subprime auto lender with a checkered past. According to the counterfeit installment loan, Coley owed a balance of $17,737, minus insurance payments, an extended warranty and a down payment of $7,000 – none of which she had made.

'I finally got someone at the bank to send me the paperwork,' Coley says, 'and I saw someone had e-signed my name on the loan… It was mind-boggling.'....

E-contracting may be easy and convenient, but it has also generated consumer complaints and lawsuits across the country. Some unethical dealers have used e-contracts to charge more than the agreed-upon sales price, tack on hundreds or thousands of dollars in extra add-ons that consumers didn’t want or agree to buy, or overcharge for government fees and engage in other illegal practices – such as e-signing consumers’ names without showing buyers the contract.

'Unscrupulous car dealers and shady lenders love e-contracting,' says Rosemary Shahan, president and founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), a Sacramento, Calif.-based non-profit. 'The combination of all-electronic transactions and high-pressure sales tactics at the car dealership, which are aimed at consumers who are often tired and feeling rushed after hours of haggling and test-driving cars, make it much easier for dealers and crooked lenders to get away with fraud, forgery and other flim-flam.' Experts say e-contracting abuses are rampant in Spanish-speaking communities...

'Auto loans are now the most troubled consumer financial product,' said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) in a speech last spring. 'The market is now thick with loose underwriting standards, predatory and discriminatory lending practices, and increasing repossessions.'...

Despite its perils, auto sale e-contracting continues to grow and may even be coming to California. The California New Car Dealers Association is pushing for the passage of Assembly Bill 380, which would allow e-contracting during auto sales in California.

The bill, sponsored by Matt Dababneh (D-Van Nuys), is opposed by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, CALPIRG, Consumer Action, the Center for Responsible Lending, the Consumer Federation of California, and the Public Law Center, among other [consumer and economic justice organizations]."

Read more: Forbes: "E-Contract Abuse Alert: How Car Dealers Can Fake Your Auto Loan"

One of the biggest winners would be Credit Acceptance Corp. What’s their business model?

Mother Jones: “They Had Created this Remarkable System for Taking Every Last Dime from Their Customers: Welcome to the Lucrative, Predatory World of Subprime Auto Loans”

Here’s why pro-consumer groups that work on behalf of consumers and against powerful, crooked special interests are opposing AB 380:

Large coalition of pro-consumer, pro-economic justice organizations opposes AB 380

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety opposes AB 380 (Dababneh)

Consumer Federation of California

CALPIRG

Public Counsel

Consumer Federation of America

Attorney David Valdez, who represents many victims of unscrupulous auto dealers and lenders
 
 
CARS and consumer group allies sue Trump Administration FTC to stop false advertising of cars with killer safety defects as "safe" and "repaired for safety"
 
"Is Your Used Vehicle a Timebomb? Loophole Lets Auto Dealers Sell Millions of Recalled Cars as 'Safe'"
Forbes Magazine
by Diana Hembree
March 27, 2017
 
"Consumer advocates have been pushing to close the loophole that makes this possible. The fight intensified this February, when six consumer groups sued the [Trump Administration] Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a consent order involving General Motors and two of the country’s largest auto dealers. The FTC had issued complaints against the three for failing to disclose that their used cars were recalled for safety problems that were never fixed. In its December 2016 consent order, the FTC allowed the companies to continue selling used cars that were recalled and never repaired as “safe” or “certified” – as long as they disclosed that the recall repairs had not been made.

FTC would allow dealers to advertise recalled cars with lethal safety defects, including catching on fire, as "safe."
Auto safety advocates lambasted the FTC’s decision.

'The consent order is crazy; it’s insane,' says Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), one of the consumer groups suing the FTC. 'It lets car dealers put death traps on the road. It’s worse than nothing because it actually gives car dealers a safe harbor if they sell a used and recalled car that hasn’t been fixed.'

....All the major car manufacturers had previously forbidden their dealers to sell used cars with unfixed recalls, says Shahan, but after the consent order Ford reversed gears and began selling them.

And Trump’s presidency makes it even less likely these loopholes will be closed, as the case of AutoNation suggests. AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealership, had pledged not to sell vehicles with open recalls, but, quietly backpedaled after Trump’s victory and resumed sales of vehicles with open recalls. According to Automotive News, CEO Mike Jackson concluded the change in government meant the death knell for legislative action on used vehicles with open recalls."

Read more: Forbes: "Is Your Used Vehicle a Timebomb? Loophole Lets Auto Dealers Sell Millions of Recalled Cars as 'Safe'
 
 
"Very Safe, Except for One Thing...
Legal Clash with FTC on Marketing of Used Cars"
Fair Warning
by Paul Feldman
March 27, 2017
 
"Can a used car be marketed as 'safe' or 'certified' even if it has defective air bags, a faulty ignition switch or other potentially lethal problems?

FTC would allow dealers to advertise cars are "safe" when they have killer safety defects that have not been repaired.
Yes, so long as the used car dealer discloses that the vehicle may be subject to a pending safety recall.

That stance, taken by the Federal Trade Commission, is at the heart of a recent legal settlement with General Motors and two used car dealers over deceptive advertising practices. But it is now being put to the test in a federal court in Washington, D.C., by auto safety activists....

'The sale of "certified" used cars as "safe," "repaired for safety issues," or "subject to a rigorous inspection," when such vehicles are in fact not safe because they are the subject of pending safety recalls, is extremely detrimental to consumers who buy used cars—particularly poor, unsophisticated, and non-English speaking consumers,' declared the Center for Auto Safety and other safety groups involved in the case....

Under the consent order, the agency said dealers who market a vehicle as safe must have completed repairs on recall issues or disclosed clearly that the vehicle [may remain] subject to an open recall.

That, however, can amount to a 'death sentence' for used car buyers who unwittingly purchase vehicles with unrepaired recalls, while also posing a direct threat to others on the road, said Rosemary Shahan, founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, one of the advocacy groups involved in the new legal challenge."

Read more: Fair Warning: "Very Safe -- Except for One Thing"
 
 
CARS spearheads lawsuit to stop dealers from advertising unsafe, unrepaired recalled cars with killer safety defects as "safe," "repaired for safety," and "certified"
 
"New lawsuit could force used car dealers to repair recalled vehicles"
The Washington Post
by Richard Read
February 8, 2017
 
"Recalls have been making headlines for the past several years, but on used car lots, recalled vehicles aren't always easy to spot. That could change thanks to a new lawsuit filed against the U.S. Federal Trade Commission...

....massive retailer AutoNation saw the writing on the wall and announced big plans to repair all recalled vehicles before rolling them into showrooms. A year later, though, AutoNation abandoned that program: not only was repairing vehicles costing the company in lost sales, but CEO Mike Jackson also cited Donald Trump's win in the U.S. presidential election as a sign that legislative efforts to mandate repairs of used cars would stall.

CARS sues to stop dealers from advertising cars with defects, like this Honda with a recalled Takata air bag, that blinded Stephanie Erdmann, as "safe."
And stall they have. As a result, consumer groups like Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have filed a lawsuit against the FTC....

Generally speaking, automakers forbid dealerships from advertising vehicles as "certified pre-owned" unless they've been through rigorous inspections and repaired for any safety problems. However, Ford recently told dealers that they can advertise vehicles as "certified", as long as (a) they don't include the word "safe" in their advertising, and (b) they have buyers sign waivers to indicate that they're aware the vehicle they're purchasing may be unsafe....

Even in today's contentious political climate, when everything is spun for maximum effect, words still mean things. If a car is listed as "certified pre-owned", it implies certain benefits, certain things that consumers can take for granted. Shifting the definition of the phrase is potentially hazardous to consumers' health. On that argument alone, the plaintiffs would seem to have a strong case.

On the other hand, the courts have a long history of believing in the principle of "caveat emptor": buyer beware. The court could cite such precedents and side with the FTC.

We're not lawyers or judges, so we won't comment on the likelihood of one verdict versus another. But we'll do our best to keep you posted."

Read more: Washington Post: "New lawsuit could force used car dealers to repair recalled vehicles"
 
 
Sweet Victory for Military Family
Toyota drops lawsuit, buys back unsafe lemon car
 
Christina and John Snell and their son, with their new 2017 RAV4
After a two-year ordeal that started when Toyota sold them an unsafe lemon RAV4, Army Tank Commander John Snell and his wife Christina are celebrating a very sweet victory.

Their ordeal started after a Toyota car dealership in Georgia sold the Snells a new Toyota RAV 4. About a year later, it began breaking down at unpredictable moments, leaving Christina stranded on winding country roads in the middle of winter in Germany, where John was stationed. At first, Toyota refused to repair their vehicle unless they paid for the parts and labor out of pocket in advance. Even after they persisted, Toyota failed to provide the necessary parts, leaving them without a vehicle for months. Eventually, a panel of arbitrators ruled that their RAV 4 was unsafe and declared it a lemon. Toyota was ordered to take back their lemon vehicle and replace it, but they refused. Instead, they sued the Snells.

Why? Toyota wanted to get a ruling in court that would allow them to get away with selling defective new cars to military families in our country, without having to honor the warranties if the families are later stationed outside the U.S. and take their cars with them.

This is shameful. As Christina Snell wrote in a petition she filed on Change.org:

Christina and John Snell at a military ball, before their son was born
"I could not be more proud of my husband, who is a highly decorated Army Tank Commander. We're both honored to be a military family. When we learned we were going to be transferred to a duty station in Germany, we talked it over and decided to buy a brand new car, so we wouldn't have to worry about having reliable transportation while coping with all the challenges that come with being stationed overseas. When we went to a local Toyota dealer in Savannah, Georgia, we asked whether Toyota would honor the warranty, even if we were serving abroad. We were repeatedly assured that Toyota is a global company with dealerships and repair facilities around the world, and there was no problem. It even said in the warranty book that 'If you are using your vehicle outside the United States, US territories and Canada and need warranty service, contact a local Toyota dealership….The warranty repairs should be completed in a reasonable amount of time, not to exceed 30 days.' So we bought the new RAV 4.

Unfortunately, Toyota does not want to honor that commitment or their warranty. They claim that because we are in the military, and took the car with us to Germany, they do not have to comply with Georgia's auto lemon law. We are determined to fight back. Toyota boasts they made over $18 billion in profits last year. They should not make those profits at the expense of military families who are serving our nation and putting their lives on the line to help protect all of us from our enemies."
 
CARS heard about their ordeal, and helped them and their attorney, Michael Flinn, raise awareness about Toyota's outrageous and disgraceful conduct toward the Snells. Over 155,000 people signed the Snell's petition on Change.org, urging Toyota to buy back their lemon car. Many wrote comments such as "Toyota should be banned from selling cars on any military base."

For months, Toyota stonewalled. They even tried to keep evidence about John Snell's tours of duty and his military medals and awards from becoming part of the record before the Court. To his credit, Flinn did not back down, and never wavered in his defense of the Snells and their rights. Finally, Toyota agreed to drop their lawsuit against the Snells, buy back their lemon car, and replace it with a new 2017 RAV4. Plus they paid some fees. Under Georgia's lemon law, Toyota has to brand the title of the lemon RAV4 as a "manufacturer buyback," to help alert consumers about the car's history. They also have to repair the defects and provide at least a 12-month warranty.

An added bit of good news: Toyota also had to give up on winning an appellate court decision that could have allowed them to deny lemon law protections to ALL military families who ship their cars to duty stations overseas.

Many thanks to all who signed Christina's petition on Change.org. We are proud to salute Christina and John Snell for their principled perseverance, and for their courageous and exemplary service to our nation. They have played an important role in preserving important lemon law protections for ALL of our military heroes and their families.
 
 
CARS opposes allowing CarMax and other car dealers to engage in
false advertising regarding the safety of "certified" used cars with
lethal safety defects as "safe," and "repaired for safety"
On behalf of a coalition of leading consumer and safety organizations, CARS filed comments, opposing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's dangerous proposed consent orders with CarMax, Asbury Automotive Group, and West-Herr Automotive Group.

FTC would allow CarMax to advertise so-called "certified" cars with this defect, that caused Stephanie Erdmann to lose her eye, as "safe" and "repaired for safety" and passing a "rigorous inspection."
The groups warn that:

"As the FTC states, 'Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety ... defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers.' [footnote #1] We agree with the tragic truth of this statement.

Yet, despite the FTC's acknowledgment of the imminent hazards that can be posed by unrepaired recalled vehicles, the proposed agreements would allow [CarMax and the other car dealers] to advertise unsafe, unrepaired, defective recalled used cars with serious safety defects that have killed and injured people as "safe," "repaired for safety issues," or "subject to a rigorous inspection," without repairing the safety defects. They could do so if the advertising merely includes a contradictory, confusing, inadequate, and misleading disclaimer that the dealer sells cars that "MAY be subject to recalls for safety issues that have not been repaired" and the dealer subsequently provides other information that is also inadequate and much too late in the sales process to compensate for the initial false impression."

*1 Fed. Trade Comm'n, Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment, 81 Fed. Reg. 93931, 93933 (Dec. 22, 2016).

Read more: Comments filed by CARS and many consumer and safety organizations, opposing FTC's dangerous proposed consent orders
 


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C.A.R.S. Mission
CARS is a national, award-winning,
non-profit auto safety and consumer
advocacy organization working to
save lives, prevent injuries, and
protect consumers from
auto-related fraud and abuse.

THANK YOU!
to everyone who has supported CARS' work, including the more than 573,500 people who have contributed financially to CARS, signed or shared CARS' petitions, and / or posted personal comments.

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Buyer beware!  
NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done -- for FREE.

Plus -- dealers are actively opposing legislation in Washington, DC and in California that would prohibit them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed first.

CARS' tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers playing "used car roulette" with customers' lives — and opposing legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car? We want to hear your story. Contact CARS

 
Buyer Beware! Auto dealers' one-
sided contracts can ruin your life
Even if the car dealer breaks the law, you might not be able to get justice. Forced arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print can keep you tied up for years. The dealer often gets to pick the arbitrator who hears your case. CARS exposed how a dealer abused arbitration, after selling Jon Perz an unsafe car. CARS' video has received over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Jon and his attorney eventually won, but because of forced arbitration, Jon had to wait 8 years for justice:
Think this is outrageous? Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and urge them to vote for the Arbitration Fairness Act. More about the AFA, now pending before Congress:
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org
 
Here's what we're doing to bring
more attention to Jon's plight:
UsedCarNightmare.org
 
Used Car Nightmare logo

Jon Perz has started a new petition
on the Change.org website
 
You're invited to check it out and send a message letting Mossy Toyota know what you think.
used car nightmare petition


 
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