Lemon law fails to protect car buyer

Published 2:06 pm Saturday, September 25, 2010

I know there is a lemon law in Minnesota to back you up when buying a car; however, that lemon law doesn’t cover every car you buy.

Now I believe there should still be some kind of law in effect to cover ANY vehicle bought for at least a few days after.

I recently purchased a used 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 from a dealer in the area. I had someone test drive it; the car was running fine. The service engine light was on, but when I asked the dealer why that would be, he stated, “That is normal for any old car,” which I believed because I had seen it before. I also asked him if there was anything else wrong with the car that I would need to fix, just so I knew to get it in right away, and he stated, “You are purchasing a very good running car and there are no other problems. It may need an oil change but after that everything else is great on it.”

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I proceeded to sign the receipt showing I purchased the car for $750, as is. He even wrote in it that if there were any lawsuit against him I was legally responsible for it. At the time I thought that was protocol, but now looking back on it, that makes me think he knew there was more wrong than what I had been told.

He gave me a “copy” of the title and said he would keep the original until I called him to tell him I was going to transfer it, he pulled the plates off the car and gave me a 21-day permit, and then I was on my way. I drove off the dealer’s property and went to the gas station to get gas. I shut the car off and when I came back outside, the car would not start. My dad thought it had to be the battery on it because when we hooked up the jumper cables it was not registering a charge. So we replaced the battery, and it started right up. I then drove the car to my place of residence, about 15 miles away, and by the time I got there the entire car filled with black smoke. It shut off on me, and it melted some hoses under the hood.

I immediately called the dealer I bought it from, and he said I bought the car as is, so it was my problem. He sent someone out to look at it as a “nice” gesture, but all he did was look under the hood and tell me the car got so hot it melted a bunch of hoses and he left. I then called back to talk to the owner of the dealership. I asked him if I could at least have him fix it, or if he would take the car back and I would let him keep $200 and that would be the end of it. He then started swearing at me, calling me names and hung up on me. I feel this is no way to be treated by any place of business.

When I looked at the copy of the title he had given me, it was not even in his name or the name of anyone who worked for him. This is probably the reason he pulled the plates on the car because until it was transferred he didn’t want it being linked back to whoever brought him the car.

I am out $750 because this Freeborn County dealer knows he can legally do something like this to his customers.

Hillary Schneider

Northwood, Iowa