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AutoBuyology 101


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'Grand Theft Auto'
An Arts & Sciences Crash Ph.D. Course in CarBuyology 101
©
aka, A Pedestrian Sociology of the Automobile
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I never would believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and
spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.
- Richard Rumbold

Case[s] Against the Auto Industry:
'GRAND THEFT AUTO'

[ by no means an exhaustive listing... there are just too many, known and unbeknownst... ]


Baseball (a non-contact sport) Has Rules and Requires Umpires!
Why not the Great American Car Deal Game?
(
Foul Ball!

(May 2010) - Congress is considering, image that? regulating auto dealers who have historically deceived consumers on yo-yo car deal financing deals, where the dealer quotes a low-ball financing rate, only to find out after the customer has driven off the lot, a few days later that the financing rate is considerably higher and the customer merely signed a contingency car deal form, requiring the vehicle be returned unless the customer mustangs-up the additional costs, often in the few thousands of dollars more than the consumer expected at the original deal time. This has become an issue recently because dealers are scamming military personnel using these chickenshit sales tactics. This is but another among many good reasons to go carless: to go car free, to buy smaller, to drive less, to use and support alternative transportation, to not use dealer assisted financing schemes, and to demand that auto makers make cleaner-air vehicles... or leave a big tip, it's on you. The dealers are trying to strike a deal with Congress so that they can continue legally screwing non-military consumers.

(May 2010) Toyota's over focussing on quantity over quality in its marketplace chess game against GM, only means that it caught and surpassed GM in its quality problems, and all for an unnegociable price, too. For my money, Toyota negotiates price or it sells to someone else.

(September 2009) After bailing out the auto industry and clunkerizing car sales the Auto Dealers Association is challenging California's reasonable and rather conservative, certainly not draconian, higher mileage, lower greenhouse gas emmission vehicle rules. Now, thats gratitude. Are you deducting your auto industry deducation from your next car deal? Go carless, and really get even.

(July 2009) Be careful out there, expecially during tough economic times. A Midas muffler shop franchisee in the Central Valley was reportedly charrged recently with repair sales shenanigans. And be especially careful of car retailers who call themselves dealers not being willing to deal on price during hard economic times. No deal? No deal! Don't buy it.

(September 2008) Check out http://www.afstrinity.com and find their ad in the September 24, 2008 New York Times, where among other things they say "Before you (US Congress) agree to provide $25 billion to the Big 3 in Detroit (The US Auto Industry) to come up with super fuel-efficient vehicles, consider setting aside 25% of those monies for smaller innovative companies across America who have been developing such technologies." And "...Many smaller innovative companies have been developing electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technologies for years while Detroit continued inexplicably to ignore the handwritting on the wall that the age of the gas guzzler was over."

Actually, not only did Detroit ignore the handwritting on the wall, it/they actively worked along with the oil industry to fight very conservative fuel-efficiency standards. Now they need a US taxpayer / gov't bailout to compete with Honda and Toyota.

(August 2008) A recent mainstream media report has it that "auto industry engineers" have confirmed that proper tire inflation saves gas. No mention was reported as to why the industry waited for $5/gal gasoline to begin "greening" their product fleets.

Keep the pressure on the auto industry, as it will continue to lag behind the marketplace in effeciency and customer service by ten years or more - has to do with the presumed costs of retooling. Nevermind the costs of not retooling sooner. The US, we'll bail them out with subsidies, like we do the gas and oil industry, which continues to recieved billions in government handouts, even while raking in record profits.

(August 2008) Recent mainstream media have reported that a Midas franchise centered in the Central California area has been charged with various unfair service sales and practices tactics. Buyer beware.


(March 2007)
Not your daddy's Taurus. Ford's bold move in the face of record losses is to bring back the Taurus, at least the Taurus name, which it is going to put on its Ford 500, not the Taurus.

(August 2006) Toyota is grilled over recalls and bad quality issues in the Saturday, August 5, 2006 buisness section of the New York Times. Three Toyota "officials" are under investigation in Japan for hiding safety/quality issues over the past eight years. Apologies are apparently offered by toyota, but apparently not reimursement of over-pricing of their defective vehicles.

(June/July 2006) WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? See the movie documentary. Hint: General Motors? More auto industry customer service?

(June/July 2006) Jiffy Lube shops found to charge for services not performed. Reported by Channel 4, Los Angeles NBC Affiliate: http://www.nbc4.tv/video/9152183/detail.html

(February 2006) General Motors' stock was downgraded again, deeper into junk status. Ford was recenlty reported to be similarly downgraded. The two companies have ridden the SUV profit gravey train deep into the red. And they continue to fight reasonable and conservative fuel efficiency regulations while boasting their "green" credentials. Are you still buying it?

(July/Aug 2005) The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday finally released its long overdue 2005 fuel economy report ranking Ford cars, trucks and SUVs as having the lowest gas mileage of any automaker in America while General Motors, Honda and Toyota all posted slight gains in fuel efficiency. Go straight to the report: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm

See what the New York Times has to say:
http://www.jumpstartford.com/news/newsitem.php?id=1556&area=ford <http://action.ran.org/ctt.asp?u=2884459&l=101192>

(May 2005) Saturday, May 14, 2005 New York Times reports in the Business Section that Ford (which owns Volvo) told Volvo to knock off the safer / safety advertising and engineering related to roof collapsing during rollovers. Yup, Volvos are safer then Ford thinks they need to be, should be, or can be, so Volvo has been told to make their vehicles less safe to meet Ford's run of the mill vehicle safety engineering standards. 'Ford, er., Volvo: Quality is Snow Job One?'

(May 2005) The Securities and Exchange Commission has reduced Ford's and GM's stock rating to "junk" status. Hum?

(March 2005) Canada sucked. Canada and the auto industry recently agreed to voluntary greenhouse gas reductions. The agreement reportedly avoids the problem the auto industry is up against in Calfirornia, where it is required to meet some of its greenhouse gas emission reductions by making vehicles more efficient (the auto indsutry is suing California so it can conspire with its customers to polute the air they breathe. Not in Canada. They don't have to achieve a measily 25% reduction in greenhouse gas reductions by increasing fuel efficiency if they can accomplish it by others means... see, the auto industry doesn't care that you could be saving big bucks on more efficient cars, light trucks and SUVs - The Union Of Concerned Scientists continue to hold that most automobile efficiencies could be doubled or better at a cost savings to consumers of multiples of what it would costs to move existing efficiency technologies into production, NOW! Tell your auto maker and the auto industry to make cleaner air vehicles, and to make more fuel efficient vehicles more efficiently.

(March 2005) The sticker price may not be much better, but the EPA formula used for calculatin gas mileages quoted on most new car window stickers typically over-estimate the gas mileage by significant amounts. You're using this info to negotiate lower vehicle prices, right? And to let the auto industry know that you expect that the information on their vehicles is accurate and reflects current real world facts? And that you expect that new vehicles are as efficiently made and are as technologically efficient to use as reasonably possible, right?

(March 2005) As reported in "mainstream" press: Only two small car models in the small car category earn an "acceptable" rating for side impact collision damage and survivability, by the National Insurance Institute.

(Fall/Winter 2004) The auto industry (Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers) has sued the State of California to fight conservative cleaner-air vehicle emissions regulations. Contact the Alliance (note that they don't really make it easy to do so) and let them know how much you like fuel-inefficient vehicles, global warming, air pollution, and dependence on foreign oil -- http://www.autoalliance.org/about/contact.php.

Tell your auto maker(s) to call off their lawyers and to make cleaner air vehicles: http://www.autobuyology.org/tellcarmakerstocleantheair.pdf

(Fall/Winter 2004) Chrysler/Benz/Dodge reportedly reports that NHTSA has asked it/them to recall 600,000 vehicles including the Dodge Dakota. Issue apparently involves potential for wheels to come off.

(Summer 2004) A Nissan dealer
in San Rafael, CA folded up with several vehicles up on service lifts. With the doors locked and no-one saying much, you an imagine how happy the vehicle owners were, especially when they discovered that the dealer hadn't paid off trade-in loans and other issues. Nissan Motors hadn't been paid for several vehicles sales, etc. So apparently, at least in some cases, the manufacturer does front vehicles to dealers until the vehicles are sold, sort of on a contingency basis. (We were told otherwise by someone e-mailing us as a dealer who represented that dealers purchase the vehicles before they are delivered [by who can you trust?])

(July/August 2004) Saturn (General Motors) reportedly is recalling 250,000 SUV VUEs. Something about rear-end problems. May involve significant issues involving wheel(s) coming off while cornering. NHTSA recently experienced catastrophic wheel failure when testing this vehicles for roll-over potential.

(December 2003) Auto dealers in 39 states have been charged with fraud related to auto sales practices. Be careful with paperwork. Don't sign any paperwork with "holes" it in where fees, especially loan rates, are are left blank, as dealers are lowballing loan rates which end up snowballing later. Better yet, do not finance an auto purchase through the dealer. Rather finance through an independent bank or credit union.

Auto Dealer Rip-Off Report
Read the Public Citizen Report:
www.autodealerscam.org
Phone: 202-588-1000

Advice from Consumer Action on buying a car:
www.consumer-action.org/English/library/cars/index.php

Advice from Consumer Guide on buying a car:
http://auto.consumerguide.com

National Automobile Dealers Association
www.nada.org
Phone: 800-252-623

Have you smelled a Ford lately? Take another wiff ...
Ford isn't alone in the air pollution business, but it is no better than the others, but likely worse in taking advantage of emission loopholes for SUVs and light trucks. The Ford SUV I've driven is not fitted with an interior air handling system that permits the recycling of interior air without sucking in polluted exterior road air while the air fan, the AC, or the heater is on. Crack your window[s] to help dilute the in-car pollution. Driving in freeway commuter traffic with the AC on noticeably affects the quality and odor of the air inside the vehicle. And: Tell auto makers to help clean up our air NOW, and not wait for 10-15 years for unproven hydrogen fuel technologies. Three technologies exist RIGHT NOW that will as much or more than double the gas mileage efficiency of cars, light trucks, and SUVs, while saving consumers as much or more than three times what these EXISTING technologies would cost to install in new vehicles. It's your car! Your Air! Your Money! http://www.JUMPSTARTFORD.com

(November 2002) Dodge Durango owners have complained about front wheel ball-joint problems involving wheels loosening and falling off. Check with Chrysler for why they don't want to recall these vehicles.

(August 11,2003) in Elizabeth Kolbert's August 11, 2003 New Yorker Magazine piece entitled: "The Car of Tomorrow: Why hydrogen-powered vehicles are attracting some unlikely supporters," we learn that the promise of not-ready-for-prime-time hydrogen fuel technology may be being used by the auto industry to delay using existing on-the-shelf fuel efficiency technologies that could be reducing our dependence on foreign oil, cleaning up our air, and saving consumers as much as three times in fuel savings what these technologies would cost to install in new vehicles. -- For cleaner air, a healthier planet, & healthier people, and energy savings: click here to Tell Car Makers To Make Cleaner-Air Vehicles

(August 2003) Ford Motors recalled a million plus of it's later model SUVs.

(January 2003) Chrysler Motors (Daimler Chrysler / Nickel&Daimler Chrysler) is lobbying California Government to water down the states's auto fuel emission and air quality standards. Let Daimler-Chrysler know how much you like breathing automobile polluted air, write: President/CEO, Daimler Chrysler, 1000 Chrysler Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766.

(December 2002) Ford Motors Company paid a multi-million dollar fine/settlement over issues involving it's disclosures related to the roll-over/safety factors of it's SUVs vis a vis Bridgestone tires. Mail your complaints to President/CEO, Ford Motors, The American road, Dearborn, MI 48126

(December 2002)
The Crown Victoria (Ford Motor, Company) is reported to be suffering rear gas tank/accident/safety issues. Two bolts may puncture the gas tank upon rear end collisions.

(Thanksgiving 2002) Own an AeroStar Van?. You may wish to have the fuel line and fuel line fittings checked often. A report suggests that the placement of the pressurized fuel line and strategic fittings near the exhaust system or high heat features may contribute to the potential for vehicular fires.

(Thanksgiving / November 2002) Ford Motors Is Linked to Argentina's 'Dirty War'
www.commondreams.org/ headlines02/1127-02.htm
November 27, 2002, New York Times, by Larry Rohter

(November 2002) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reported to have issued safety concerns regarding many of the current popular mini vans. CARveat Emptor.

(November 2002) Ford Focus is reported to be problem prone. Eleven (11) or more recalls or repair directives have been issues for this Ford Motors Company product.

(October 2002) The reactionary President Bush and the automobile industry want you and your loved ones to breath polluted air. They have joined in a lawsuit to undo recently enacted California standards for automobile emissions. You may wish to let President Bush and the Automobile Manufacturers know how your feel about their plan for the health of the air you breathe.

(September 2002) Only 25% of prospective auto consumers are eligible for the 0% financing inducements being offered by many auto manufacturers. So don't get your expectations up to high, or you may be disinflated, unlike the current economy. Even if you qualify, consider negotiating the dealer's and manufacturer's profit before financing a deal. Everything's negotiable, or do you really need or want it?

(September 2002) The NHTSA wants to increase safety standards for automobile tires. Naturally, the tire industry is fighting this. Let your national representatives and senators know your position on the relative safety of voluntary tire industry standards. And remember, every tire rolling toward you on the highways are not as safe as they should be, even under ideal road and operator conditions.

(August - September 2002) Ford Motors is experiencing problems with Cooper tires on its behemoth SUVs.

(April 2002) Chrysler-Daimler -recalls a million+ Jeeps, 2000 models and later. Potential engine fire hazard. Lets park it outside on the drive, honey? Jeepers!

(February 2002) Chrysler recalls 1.6 million Jeeps. Spontaneous reverse hidden option may have killed five and harm

(August 2001) Ford Motor Company announces it will fire 5,000 mostly white collar workers, while an industry report calls their factories the worst in U.S. History. "Quality is Slob #1".

(July 2001) Fed Government (NHTSA) found that Chrysler Mini Van gas tanks leak upon test impact collisions; wants Chrysler to recall and fix/replace gas tanks. Chrysler has redesigned gas tanks on newer models, but refuses to recall older collision-leaky fuel tanks. Don't get hit in your gas tank, or if you do, don't stick around for the hotdog and marshmallow roast. Get everyone away from the potential incinerator.

(July 2001) Federal Government (NHTSA) wants Bridgestone/Firestone to recall more of its tires, threatening a formal recall. Bridgestone/Firestone denies faulty tires or need for recall. Driving a Ford Rollover (©?) with Firestone tires? Tiptoe around those sharp turns and avoid jerky steering maneuvers or over correction in steering.

(June 2001) The New York Times reportedly reports that the alleged flaws in Firestone's tires was known as early as 1996. Do keyword search at NY Times's site.

(June 2001) Mitsubishi Rolls? Consumer Reports reportedly reports that one of M's SUVs flips under test driver conditions. M says that the test driver jerked the steering wheel hard left, then hard right (or vice versa) and that average drivers don't jerk, so their vehicles are not unduly unsafe.

(June 2001) Ford Mush (Tough?) The Ford pickup F-150 along with the Chrysler Dodge Ram pickup got poor ratings in tests by the Insurance Insititue for Highway Safety (IIHS). The driver and passenger cabs were smashed in, and their air bags discharged late. The Ford (Mush) F150 tested worst of four pickups tested. The Toyota Tundra scored best of the four. The Chevrolet Silverado received a marginal rating. The manufacturers claim their vehicles are safe and pass government test for which they design their vehicles, not the more rigorous IIHS standards and testing.

The IIHS tests vehicles in offset collisions at 40 mph where half of the front of the vehicle impacts a solid structure which may more accurately reflect the majority of front end head-on accidents. The government the impact is spread out over the entire front of the vehicle at 35 mph. Feeling lucky?

(May 2001) Chrysler is replacing the side sliding door locks of some of its recent Mini-vans -- seems they pop off complete upon site impact tests.

(May 2001) Firestone Tire Company has presented testing data to the NHTSA regarding the potential for over steering of Ford Explorers experiencing tire blowouts. NHTSA is reviewing the data.

(May 2001) A South American Country's consumer protection agency is recommending the banning of the sale of Ford Explorers in that country because of the vehicle's accident or rollover potential.

(May 2001) Ford Motors recalls 50,000 new Explorers, and 13,000,000 Firestone tires. Firestone blames the Explorer and Ford. Ugly corporate divorce.

(Feb-2001) Mitsubishi recalls over a million of its self-admittedly poorly built vehicles. Check with you dealer, or better yet, search for a reputable auto recall site for more details, -- especially if you intend to purchase one... may be good price leveraging info -- like why should consumers pay premium prices for shoddily manufactured products?

(Feb-2001) Escaping Ford's Escapes: Ask your dealer or search for reputable auto consumer recall sites to see why Ford consumers wished they'd escaped the Escape.

(Mid-December 2000) "Gender Taxation Revealed: Women are routinely charged more for cars, haircuts, and clothes, by Kristne Gerencher CBS.marketwatch.com as reported in the New San Francisco Examiner. [Beware of "perceived value".] 'Some think men look for basic product, and women look and pay more for "extra value".' Also, look for Ian Ayres coming new book, "Pervasive Prejudice" in which Lawyer Ayres details a study which found retail discrimination at Chicago car dealerships. "He said dealers extended to white women average offers of $200 more than to white men. The gap between black women and white men was even higher at $400, and black men received offers of $900 more than white men. If (dealers) think that there's a higher proportion of women that are willing to pay $200 (more,) that my lead the dealership to offer higher prices to all women..."

[Regarding the above it may be, as I believe we have indicated elsewhere, that some women may, due to cultural bias and learning, undervalue their abilities and this may effect their shopping practices. On the other hand, men have been studied to show that they tend (not all men, obviously) to overvalue their abilities. This may have some effect in pricing and valuing of consumables.]

(December 2000) Automobile Roulette: The auto industry is fighting regulators to avoid having to disclose to consumers the "lemon" status of vehicles taken back under lemon laws and resold to unsuspecting consumers. George Bush claims to be a compassionate conservative. Where's the compassion of auto dealers and manufacturers who believe that families should not be advised of the known status of faulty and unsafe vehicles. Get your pen and paper out and find your national representatives and senators and let them know how you feel about paying for and driving unsafe or otherwise faulty vehicles -- or how you feel about having other drivers operating unsafe or faulty vehicles on your highways and byways... now get with it. Drive and consume defensively.

(October 2000) Are you Focused? Ford wants many of its 2000 Focuses back. They are being recalled due to several safety related fixes that need to be made-but hey, we shipped them on schedule, didn't we?

(October 2000) The US Senate, after a "rolling block" passed a watered down version of a consumer protection bill addressing the issues of tire and auto manufacturers withholding safety information from the government and the public. Apparently, a few of the more cretinish senators were didn't want to impose criminal penalties of corporate CEOs who, with intent, withheld public safety information. This is the result of your auto manufacturer's money at work -- for them, not you. Shouldn't every tire and auto manufacturer be able to make unsafe or defective products with impunity? Apparently, your government believes so. It may have been Ford that calculated the value of a human life to be approximately $200,000 when it once decided not to replace or re-engineer a potentially defective part, because it would have cost the company money to do Job One right.

(October 2000) A judge in Alameda County, California ordered Ford Motors Company to recall millions of its vehicles (various models) made between 1983 and 1995 - due to faulty and potentially hazardous ignition switches (thick, or thin film type) which causes vehicles to stall out when they heat up during use. Ford denies that the switches are defective and promises to appeal the decision. Surprised?

(August 2000) Mitsubishi reportedly acknowledges that it hid consumer safety complaints for the past ten years. Many of the subject vehicles were sold and used in Japan. Reportedly as many as 10,000 of these vehicles were sold and used in the US.

(August 2000) Birdgestone-Firestone Tires and Ford Motors has decided to try to replace the 6.5 billion faulty Firestone tires which apparently are responsible for 46 deaths and hundreds of accidents. Check with your dealer or Ford Motors or Firestone Tires for details.

(August 2000) Firestone Tire Company is under fire because it is reported that some of its tire models used on SUVs, such as the Ford Explorer, may be causing accidents. Firestone and Ford deny any particular or unusual problems relative to the Firestone tires, although there have been approximately 500 accidents and over 100 deaths from accidents seemingly related to the failure of the tires in which claims have been filed. Ford and Firestone have settled associated claims with a stipulation that the parties are not permitted to divulge the terms of the settlement, keeping the public from information about the products which may help them decide the relative safety of the vehicles and accessories they purchase. An attorney representing one of the claimants said that he had seen confidential proprietary information related to the claim that would be of concern to the general public about the potential safety related problems associated with the Firestone tires. You draw your own conclusions and act in your best judgment as to which best serves your personal and family safety needs... and avoid driving on highways used by motorists using firestone's faulty products. It may be good to check your tires and not let them become too worn before replacement. Keeping in mind the SUVs are known to be top heavy and heed the warning that accompanies most SUVs, that they tip over easily upon high speeds and over correction in steering. Auto consumers may wish to consider whether these GLOBAL WARMERS are worth the costs, their higher pollutive natures and their greater potential for mishap in freeway and other driving conditions.

(August 2000) Reynolds Holding in the Sunday, July 30,2000 San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle reported that the US Congress passed legislation giving auto dealers the flexibility to choose a jury trial over binding arbitration after the nature of any problem became known to the dealer(s)... but we poor consumers, should we sign a purchase contract requiring binding arbitration to settle claims, may not request a jury trial or court solution at all, even if we discover after the deal that there are severe problems related to the vehicle or the deal. When do we get a Congress which serves We The People?

(July 2000) The Associated Press reported from Brussels that "European Court Reduces Fine Against Volkswagen" for illegal sales practices in Italy in the 1990s. The fine was reduced 11.8 percent to $82.2 billion. The European Court upheld an earlier finding that Volkswagen violated EU fair trade rules by forbidding its Italian dealers from selling VWs or Audis to foreigners at a lower price than in their own country--the allegations, it ruled, were accurate. The EU's investigation found that VW threatened 50 dealers in Italy that their dealership contracts would be terminated if they sold to foreigners and that 12 were terminated for such practices; and that VW cut profit margins and bonuses of those selling outside Italy and rationed deliveries. Essentially, VW engaged in a systematic program of price fixing. The EU reportedly is pursuing similar unfair trade investigations involving DamilerChrylser, Volvo, Renault Peugeot, and Citroen. (Sort of supports the pedestrian theory that "they all do it," eh? [Be VW, or you'll get VW'd... Be Very Wary...]

(May 2000) Ford Motors acknowledges that Sport Utility Vehicles pollute more and are a greater danger to other drivers than other cars. However, profits being king, Ford will continue to make and sell them. Precise profit margins on specific makes and models of new vehicles are hard to come by, but those in the know have reported that Ford "earns" upwards of $18,000 (above and beyond its costs for making and delivering its product) for the larger of its largest "Global Heaters". Our guess is that it costs less to make these global warmers than these numbers would suggest, and that therefore the "earnings" per global warmer is therefore also more than these numbers suggest.

(October 1999) State Farm Insurance Company is found liable to the tune of $456 million for short selling its auto consumers on sleazy after-market knock-off replacement parts on body and fender work. Replacing factory specified parts with less rigorous parts (the factory specifications are quite thin as it is) after market knock-offs of inferior quality could place the consumer, your friends and families in greater harms way, along with being shortchanged, because many after-market replacement parts are not made to auto manufacturer standards and may fail to perform up to the skimpy safety regulations for which they were intended.

(June-July 1999) General Motors recalls 3.5 million automobiles (SUVs, Vans & Trucks), finally, due to faulty ABS (Anti-locking Breaking Systems). PS, General Motors has been plagued with complaints for years about problems with its ABSs... blaming the problem on inexperienced consumers and drivers. Huh? Isn't that the same reason they use to overcharge consumers on vehicle and service costs... Hey, if you don't know you are being overcharged, are you being cheated? See SEARS info below.

(June-July 1999) General Motors was found responsible for accidents which resulted from fires from explosive fuel tanks and fined several million dollars. This won't stand. This will be overturned on appeal to favor the industry because a jury of mere citizens trying to protect their family and village values couldn't possible know their values... it says that right there in the Constitution... between the lines... where corporations are given the right of personhood, superpersonhood, that is.

(June-July 1999) Toyota is charged with rigging or calibrating its pollution emissions equipment so that it would not record excessive amounts of air pollution. "Oh, Toyota, what you do to us...?"

(June 1999) Not only do SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles, AKA Such Unnecessary Vehicles, there is very little utility in these vehicles, unless you believe that highly pollutive vehicles helps anyone) pollute more, causing more greenhouse gases which deplete the Ozone layer, a recent report by the Insurance Institute... shows that they are unusually expensive to repair after minor fender impacts... at very low mileage, the best results resulted in over $2000 in damages and the worst resulted in $5,000, $6,000 and more in repair costs due to lax construction standards and manufacturing of these oversized ego-strokers. "My SUV pollutes more than your SUV!"

(May 19, 1999) 60 Minutes II (CBS) reports that the 1964-1970 Ford Mustang seems to contain design flaws involving a "drop-in" gas tank. The top of the tank is the bottom of the trunk in the rear of the car. In rear-end collisions gasoline spilled forcefully into the passenger compartment which was only protected by the back of the back seat without more reinforcement or barrier. Many people have been incinerated in these automobiles and Ford is reported to have known about the potential safety problem associated with the tank and is being sued for withholding indirect test results and failing to warn the public or to take remedial action in a timely manner. Ford maintains that the Mustang was and is safe and that the gas tank does not represent a public safety problem. Iacoca, former Ford and Chrysler management employee was quoted from White House Oval Office tapings during meetings with Richard Milhouse Nixon that, 'safety was killing us,' meaning the profit margins of Ford and the auto industry. [Typical or ironic?]

(April/May 1999) Ford is also being sued for ignition failure problems. Vehicles apparently stalled without warning because of a design and planning flaw in the placement of "thick film" ignition parts being placed too close to and not shielded from heat producing parts of the engine and underhood equipment. The stallings have caused accidents in which people have been seriously hurt with lifelong disabilities.

Another recent (1999) auto industry report (source and manufacturer unrecalled,--Ford possibly) regarding an automotive manufacturer calculating the dollar value ('personal worth' in auto industry vernacular) of a human life at around $200,000. The calculation was made in regards the recall and replacement costs of a vehicle part alleged to be critical to safe auto use and operation. Apparently, the reeengineered or recall/replacement part would have cost about $10.00 per vehicle. However, to be "cost-effective" the manufacturer would only support a recall and repair if the cost was less than $3.00 per vehicle, actually closer to $2.00 per vehicle. Otherwise, apparently it could not or would not afford to stop using the subject suspect part nor to issue a recall and repair order.

The Oil and Gas Industry seem to be taking lessons from the auto industry...

(October 1998) Just when the free (to plunder) marketeers thought it was safe to buy gas or breathe the air, we see reported where gas stations are arrested for installing "smart" computer chips in their "smart" fuel pumps which record accurate pricing for $5.00 and $10.00 worth of gas, coincidentally the same quantities at which "Weights and Measures" officials test gas pump accuracy. The "smart" gas pump gimmick chips permitted gas station owners to gouge consumers up to 25% more than the price which was reflected on the pump dollar value gauge for amounts of purchase other than $5.00 and $10.00.

  • So the moral of the story is, if you can, get your government representatives to make the gasoline industry stop its price gouging schemes and stop gas station owners from rigging their pumps to cheat customers. Democratic control over the marketplace merely represents a free society's self-esteem and sovereignty. There is nothing in the Constitution which permits profiting by cheating and ripping off our friends and families.

Then be absolutely sure that you are not paying more than the posted dollar per gallon price by only pumping $5.00 or $10.00 of gasoline at a time. Pump in $5.00 or $10.00 increments to make absolutely sure you are not being scammed for fill-ups. Then go inside and pay too much for a cup of coffee, and tell yourself what a bargain the free market is... If you suspect that a gas pump is inaccurate call your local City of County Weights and Measures official and report the situation.

(October 1998) Just when you thought it was safe to let your children breathe the air, EPA discloses that diesel truck motor manufacturers used "rigged" testing equipment which showed the engines meeting EPS pollution emission standards at tested RPMs, yet in actual use, the engines are dumping excessive carcinogenic particulate matter into the air to the tune of millions of tons every year. Oh, and by the way, lung and respiratory diseases and problems are on the increase due to air pollution. Your government has struck a deal with the engine manufacturers and trucking industry which permits continued fouling of our air, to the consternation of environmental protection activists. Earth to trucking industry, "the environment and clean air are good for business, don't foul it up." Poisoning your consumers is not good for business.


A dealer was quoted in an auto dealership trade magazine as saying to the effect that, '... if we don't make enough on the sales end we'll have to make up for it on the service end...', meaning that if dealers do not clean your clock when they sell you a vehicle, they will have to make up for it when you bring it in for serving. Yeah, sure! Like its going to make any difference how much profit he or she makes on the sales end whether or not you are overcharged, shortchanged, or sold unnecessary services down the road. Most dealers are getting it coming and going from an overly compliant consumership which over values automobiles and which is essentially automobile and car deal illiterate when it comes to value, price, and service needs. 40% of all auto repairs are unnecessary, costing us over $40 billion annually.

Some Get Caught... Some don't... but automobile consumers, which are often unable to know when they are getting the classic auto service deal run around, remain at the mercy of a predatory industry and marketplace. Even with laws covering specific marketplace abuses the abuses and practices continue... and as long as abusive practitioners are permitted to retain their operating licenses the Great American Car Deal sham will continue at existing or accellerated levels... CARveat Emptor... buyer beware!

  • Gary Dufour, San Francisco Examiner Opinions Page, Monday, July 6, 1998, reported that, 'Common Cause has documented how special-interest contributions are repaid many times over. For example, experts say the auto industry could make safe, fuel-efficient cars that could save consumers $59 billion annually at the pumps. But with $5.7 million in political contributions from auto, iron and steel industries since 1991, Congress has voted for a freeze for the past three years on fuel economy standards.'
    [
    Representative democracy, anyone?] ]
  • (June 1998) Honda Motors is reported to have been recently fined several million dollars for disabling smog emission control equipment on several models of its vehicles -- over a million vehicles in the US.

  • March 14, 1998 -- An AAMCO transmission repair franchisee in San Jose signed a court ordered stipulation that it would pay a fine of nearly $30,000, without acknowledging wrong-doing, for allegedly, 'making false and misleading statements about the condition of a vehicle or its parts; knowingly recommending and performing unnecessary repairs and charging for steel plates, bearings and other transmission parts that were never installed; and charging for a rebuilt transmission that did not meet the minimum requirements for the rebuilding of a transmission.' The allegations were levied by the California State Department of Automotive Repair (CDMV) after conducting an investigation after receiving several complaints from concerned consumers. (Source: Newswire reportage in the San Francisco Examiner)
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  • February/March 1998 -- Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr is under investigation for allegedly concealing perjury while defending General Motors in product-liability lawsuits involving deaths caused by GM's infamously side mounted gas tanks in the 1980s.
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  • (March 1998) -- Ford Motors Company is reported by National Public Radio to be the defendant in a class action lawsuit alleging that Ford used slave labor in its German vehicle plants during World War II. Earlier it had been reported that Ford was able to have its German factories removed from Allied bombing target lists during the war, permitting Ford to continue building war machinery for the Nazis. (November 30, 1998) NPR reported that General Motors and Ford Motors denied complicity with the Nazis, claiming that the Nazis nationalized their (Ford's and GM's) German factories during the 2nd World War. (December 3, 1998) Frank Rich's opinion column, titled "How GM, FORD 'Helped' Nazi War Machine," was carried in the San Francisco Chronicle. Rich noted that Richard Snell, a historian who is writing a book on GM (the auto giant) and devotes several hundred pages to GM's wartime history, and that Snell maintains that GM's complicity with the Nazis was "pretty deep."
  • (January-2000) The Nation Magazine in,"Ford and the Fuehrer," {lets see, Plymouth made the Fury; Ford, the Fuhrery?} indicates that Ford's denials about its involvement in Nazi slave labor programs continue to require some explaining giving new information and research by editorial contributions to The Nation.
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  • November 20, 1998 -- Marketplace Radio (NPR) reported that Ford Motors and some of its dealers were reportedly being investigated by Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth (an twenty other states) for "lease payoff packing," which is a scheme of inflating the buy out fee for getting out of the lease by purchasing the vehicle outright or otherwise voiding the lease. Calls by consumers to Ford Motors requesting the lease buy-out fee were referred to Ford's dealers, who are alleged to have jacked up and inflated the costs for buying out of the leases. Other reports put the inflated payoff prices between $300 and $2000. Not bad considering that lease deals are a rip-off even without the inflated payoff schemes.
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  • Like a cROCK? - (Wed. Jan 14, 1998) In a news story reported in the San Francisco Examiner, Glen Elsasser of the Chicago Tribune reported that General Motors tried and failed to silence a former GM engineer from testifying outside Michigan against GM in a product (Chevy S-10 Blazer [aptly named?]) liability suit. GM tried to employ the "Full Faith and Credit" clause of the US Constitution requiring states to honor each others laws to keep an automotive expert banned from testifying against GM or without GM's written consent in Michigan from testifying similarly in other states. The Supreme Court unanimously said GM was driving erratically in its claim and that the expert could testify in a case outside Michigan against GM in the product liability case, which previously had gone against GM to the cartoon of $11.3 million in damages... arruuuggaahh!
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  • (January 14, 1998) in a news story published in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, Boonville, CA 95415, by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, entitled, "How GM (with Jesse Jackson's help) Screws its Black Dealers," outlines what the editors describe as a pervasive racism at GM, which included luring blacks into investing in specific dealerships with empty promises of support, then failing to lend to the customers of those dealerships and failing to provide loan and other services to the black dealers which were routinely given white-owned dealerships. When the black-owned dealerships failed the dealerships were sold to whites dealers at a fraction of the price at which they were previously sold to blacks.
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  • (June 1998) GM is experiencing labor problems at two of its Flint, Michigan parts factories. This is causing production problems and reportedly threatens the closure of two or more of its automobile assembly plants. Keep this info for future reference. When buying new or used vehicles, it may pay to avoid models made during or around the time of labor unrest or plant closures, as there may be quality problems associated with labor problems above and beyond the normal quality problems which all auto manufacturers and consumers experience.
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  • Automotive complaints top the list of consumer complaints. So what will it take for your government to get the message that something more substantive needs to be done to protect consumers from sham in car sales and service practices?
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  • (November 26, 1997) .. an Associated Press (AP) story printed in the San Francisco Chronicle reported that consumer complaints involving the Internet were the fastest growing, while complaints about auto sales, home improvements and car repairs continue to top the list of consumer fraud in a new survey. The source of the report was representatives of the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the Consumer Federation of America.
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  • Fraudulent sales and service practices in the automobile industry alone last year cost America's friends and families over ($22 BILLION dollars -- a conservative estimate?)
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  • Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars more in inflated costs are siphoned off by unfair and manipulative sales and service practices which are often condoned or ignored by consumers, government and the industry.
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  • Over half a million formal consumer complaints were filed by consumers last year with consumer protection agencies, the majority of which involved car purchase and service issues. How many consumers just shrugged their shoulders and wimped away quietly?
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  • {As reported by "The Rep" by e-mail (November 22, 1997)},
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(1). The U.S DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION reported that: "40% of ALL auto repairs are unnecessary, equaling $40 billion annually" [Have you been serviced by your auto industry representative lately?]. And,

 

(2). THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEY GENERAL'S AUTO REPAIR TASK FORCE reported that: "Good [sic] mechanics will sometimes push unnecessary car repair work because of the temptation to make additional money" [push?]. And,

 

(3). The CALIFORNIA BUREAU OF AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR reported that: "70% of automotive repair technicians tested cannot diagnose & repair late model vehicles 1980 & newer" [What's that 'competitive' hourly labor rate for anyway?]}

  • The car industry charges consumers its costs for lobbying congress to water down or kill consumer protection, safety and environmental laws. Consumers pay for advertising costs built into the cost of each car, whether or not that advertising assisted the consumer in his or her purchase decision. This is a value-subtracted cost passed on to each consumer regardless of whether the consumer benefits from the service or product. Obtaining the hidden costs in car pricing from the dealer or the manufacturer as a consumer service would help consumers make informed pricing decisions on an expensive new car purchase. Estimate these costs if you are unable to obtain them from the dealer or manufacturer directly. It has been reported that legal fees of on average of $500 per vehicle are passed on by manufacturers to consumers to cover litigation cost, some of which is incurred as a result of negligence or an unwillingness of the industry or manufacturer to properly design its products. Its not the consumers fault that a manufacturer has to pay $500 per car for its own legal liabilities. Try to avoid paying for car deal fees or services that do not directly benefit you.
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  • See Car Deal Tricks - Unfair, manipulative and fraudulent sales and service practices -- some legal, some illegal, some just stupid, but, apparently all fun and profitable. "Let the marketplace handle it... but not democracy?"
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  • Chrysler Motors paid fines in New York State for reselling vehicles bought back from original owners and reselling them to second owners without disclosing the lemon status, prior use and condition of the vehicles. It did the same thing in Pennsylvania, too. Chrysler claimed these were "good faith" repurchases and therefore technically the vehicles were not lemons. Chrysler repeated this lemon laundering stunt in California where it faces similar charges, again involving hundreds of vehicle sales through its "licensed" or "authorized" dealers.
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  • Chrysler is currently being threatened with a sixty day (subsequently reduced to 45 days upon appeal) sales suspension in California for reselling lemons without proper labeling and disclosures. Unfortunately, Governor Wilson's Director of DMV wants to soften the proposed wrist slap against Chrysler, even though Chrysler previously laundered lemons in New York and Pennsylvania (and God only knows where-else?) prior to its California offenses or marketplace and consumer abuses. One might rightly wonder where else Chrysler or whether other auto manufacturers and dealers may have laundered or be laundering lemons? With the auto industry, what goes around, comes around, and around, and around, and around, and around. CARveat Emptor.
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  • Chrysler, you may remember was caught and dinged (wrist-slapped) previously for disconnecting odometers while its "executives" drove them around on personal errands and use, and sold the vehicles without disclosing the mileage tampering, as new cars. Slick customer service, eh. Out of sight, out of mind. Hey, it wasn't illegal was it? Apparently with Chrysler, little difference it would have made.
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  • The California DMV spanked Chrysler recently by revoking Chrysler's California driver's license to sell cars in California for 45 days as punishment for fender skirting the lemon laws and dinging customers by reselling lemons without proper disclosures. Chrysler denies the charges and promises to appeal the decision. No big surprise here. Automobile companies typically deny responsibility for safety and marketplace shortcomings. And, before you cry to long or loud for Chrysler dealers, Chrysler and its out of state dealers likely will shift stock from out of state to bulk up dealer inventories in California before Chrysler's license is suspended in 40 days.
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  • The California New Motor Vehicle Board on August 20, 1997 reversed the California DMV's recommended penalty against Chrysler, remanding the matter back to the DMV because it felt that the punishment unfairly affected uncharged dealers. The New Motor Vehicle Board is a politically appointed board whose purpose is to protect the interests of auto dealers. Apparently it believes that laundering lemons is good for business...?
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  • It has recently (December 30ish, 1996) been reported that Chrysler advertises with the Howard Stern radio and TV programs. Stern recently ignored the reports from a caller to his program who told of being sexually assaulted. Stern reportedly mocked and made jokes and fun of the situation and the caller. The Stern shows have been referred to as sexist, homophobic and otherwise anti-social in content and format.
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  • Chrysler Motors has also been reported to have excluded the words "sexual orientation" from its official corporate workplace anti-discrimination policies. In comparison, Ford and General Motors have based their anti-discrimination policies on workplace and job performance merits and include our gay fellows in their polices and have included the words, "sexual orientation," in their policies.
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  • We are reminded by a letter to the editor of a local community newspaper from two Chrysler salespersons from an unnamed Chrysler dealer in the South San Francisco Bay area that Chrysler makes Chryslers, Dodges, Jeeps, Plymouths, and Eagles and their authorized dealers purvey these makes of vehicles. Chrysler dealers or auto dealers who carry Chryslers may also vend or purvey other makes and models of vehicles. Chrysler is now owned by Mercedes Benz.
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  • Chrysler claimed its lemon laundering schemes were merely "good faith" consumer satisfaction repurchases, even though its dealers filed for state tax rebates in California for repurchasing "lemons." (Customer Service vs. Creative accounting?). California government merely slapped Chrysler's wrist for having its hands in the consumers' cookie jar. Had lemon law statutes and other auto consumer protection laws been elevates to criminal law status instead of the fuzzy legal land of administrative or civil law, Chrysler might have been looking at prosecution under the anti-racketeering (RICO) laws that require forfeiture of assets which could have been sold in the public interest. Chrysler is reported to have pulled its lemon laundering slight of hand in New York and in Pennsylvania before being caught in California. We're talking hundreds of lemons. Is this how the "Big Three" post "record profits", by cheating our friends and families in the marketplace?
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  • The California Motor Car Dealers Association blames Chrysler for Laundering Lemons in California (SEE MEMO FROM CALPIRG & C.A.R.S.).... oops, jumping the gun before the California New Motor Vehicle Board reversed the DMV's decision to revoke Chrysler's Drive Shaft License in California for 45 days. The DMV has an opportunity to revisit the case and sustain it through the Superior Court or offer another penalty. This memo is rather incriminating... even though the dealers seem to trying to protecting themselves by blaming Chrysler for not settling the case before dealers stood to lose approximately $60,000 each for the 45 day suspension. DMV could merely permit the sale of Chrysler vehicles while confiscating all proceeds to Chrysler and its offending dealers as a proper punishment, while protecting those Chrysler dealers who were not charged with laundering lemons.
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  • AutoNation, (Awful Notion?) the new Blockbuster of national automotive dealership chains is reportedly hiring non-union transporters to haul its vehicles, likely as a means to bolster profits rather than to pass along savings on to consumers. AutoNation is also reported to have fired homosexual personnel in Texas without cause or for non-meritorious or non-job performance reasons. The majority of Americans in recent polls favor non-discrimination (fair-play) against our gay and lesbian fellows. AutoNation dealerships do business under various names across the country. Auto-Nation, a subsidiary of Republic Industries (Owned by Wayne Huizenga, who made Blockbuster the Home Depot of video rentals and sales) was reported to be negotiating to buy Anderson Motor Group of San Mateo, CA. Auto-Nation owns 25 auto dealerships nationwide which grosses $5.5 billion annually. All bow and hail the neo-economicracy of monopolized industries promising consumer service and lower prices.
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  • General Motors paid fines to the California Department of Motor Vehicles for similarly reselling vehicles taken back from original buyers to subsequent buyers without proper disclosures. Thirty one (31) San Francisco Bay Area GM dealers were involved.
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  • Honda Motors executives were recently charged with improperly distributing more expensive models of its vehicles to dealers for kickbacks.
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  • December 5, 1996. Reportedly Hendricks Motors owner of Raleigh, NC, was indicted (innocent until proven guilty) for bribing Honda Honchos for favorable vehicle model deliveries and for coveted dealership franchises...(value prices for customer service, of course...!) Plead innocent and make an offer...like buying a car from a dealer...?
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  • Toyota or its dealers have been charged with improperly inflating vehicle invoices. This is known as double dipping in gorilla consumer speak. The Chronicle Sunday section of the San Francisco Examiner features a story entitled, "The Hidden Costs of Buying a Car Through Lease Agreements," and tells of a person who planned to buy a $12,000 Toyota from a Toyota Dealer and was "sold" a lease deal that cost the consumer $26,000 for the same $12,000 Toyota. Makes you just want to run right out and reward Toyota with your business, don't it? Consumers considering Toyotas are warned that even Toyota, perhaps especially Toyota (given this story) is not to be trusted in treating consumers fairly.
    CARveat Emptor.
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  • Newsweek (July 28, 1997) "Oh, What a Feeling: Toyota tries to teach dealers the soft sell", by Daniel McGinn and Tara Weingarten. Toyota tries to rein in its dealers, essentially admitting that its dealers have been mistreating its customers. Story includes a "Dented Image" rating, with Saturn, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Cadillac, Ford and Chevrolet scoring above average in a survey of car buyers, and with Honda, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Jeep, Hyundai, and Kia scoring below average.(Rating Source: J.D. Powers & Associates and Automotive News). (Toyota: I Love What Your Do To Me ...? )
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  • September 20, 1997. San Francisco Examiner, Toyota Must Pay for misdeeds of S.F. Dealers: Car buyers who paid padded ad fees will share in lawsuit settlement. According to the story, Toyota proposes to pay Toyota consumers who leased new Toyotas between April 20, 1990, and September 30, 1994, a $150 voucher for use against the purchase or lease of a new Toyota within five years, or to be used in $50.00 increments for service at Toyota Dealers. in settlement of the charges against Toyotas for double dipping its customers on "advertising" (adverteasing?) fees... and so it goes.
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  • (November 1998) Toyota, while denying wrong-doing, paid a $100,000+ fine, er., settlement, for claiming its Lexus was the fastest accelerating sedan in its advertising, apparently forgetting or unaware that Jaguar and BMW were as fast or faster.
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  • A consortium of car dealers in the south San Francisco Bay area were charged by the Federal Trade Commission with "restraint of free trade" when they withdrew between $200,000 and a million dollars in advertising from the San Jose Mercury News for publishing a consumer friendly story entitled, "A Car Buyer's Guide To Sanity," (Sunday, May 22, 1994 - get this from your library reference clerk -- on micro-fiche) which explained how consumers can read the hidden cost codes on standard manufacturer invoices and negotiate a fair dealer profit on new car deals and leases. The list of questionable practices seem endless in this industry. (Wonder why the dealers didn't want consumers to have this information?) (May be available at your library) (Wonder why you'll never see, "A Car Buyer's Guide to Sanity," printed in the San Jose Mercury News or any other newspaper ever again? The SJMN caved in to the dealers and ran its standard advertisement of 10 reasons to shop for cars at factory authorized dealers free of charge to the dealers. Perhaps the SJMN values its auto dealer advertisers more than it does its readers? inCARhoots?
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  • [Even] Sears Roebuck acknowledged (one of the few to ever admit it) systematically cheating its automotive service customers, apparently for fun and profit. Sadly, Sears automotive service business dropped less than 15% during the period shortly after the announcement of its anti-consumer behavior. Come on people, we need to let this industry know that it cannot sham us without penalty. Pay attention, or pay the dealer or mechanic.
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  • (June 1999) Sears apparently did so well with this last auto service scam that it has recently been sued for charging for as much as over $400.,000.000.00 ($00 million) worth of tire balancing and not performing the work. [Oh, and you say they wore out too soon... Huh? ] Anticipate a governmental slap on the wrist and permission to continue screwing consumers for fun and profit. Actually, if the free marketeers in the "Republican" party have their way, Sears would receive a Congressional Medal of Honor for superior capitalistic merit.
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  • Volvo faked safety and strength test advertising demonstrations to make its cars appear safer. (Oh no, not Volvo too!). Can any auto manufacturer or dealer be trusted to honor its marketplace privileges and to treat consumers honestly and fairly? The evidence suggests that consumers are fairly warned that trusting auto dealers and manufacturers is risky business.
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  • The Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine (February 1997) printed a story entitled, Recycling Troubled Cars: How Lemons Get Back on the Road Again," by Ed Henry. This story traced a 1993 Volvo 940 lemon through four buyers without proper labeling or disclosures about the service problems associated with the vehicle. So while Chrysler (Chrysler, Jeep, Eagle & Plymouth) and General Motors has received the most public notoriety in laundering lemons, they are not the only ones. Heads-up, CARveat Emptor. The color of sour in car deals is not always yellow or lime green.
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  • BMW is defending itself against a $2,000,000 juried judgment at the Supreme Court because it did not disclose to its customers that it repaired "new" vehicles which had been damaged in transit. BMW as dinged by Marin County, California for misleading and false advertising statements when it claimed the some of its engines showed no wear at 100,000 miles in tests. In fact, as one would expect, the vehicles did show signs of wear known to BWM and its testers. BMW settled without acknowledging responsibility, a typical industry response. BMW recently won a reprieve from the Supreme Court when it returned this matter to the lower court for reassessing the damage award. Regardless of BMW's ultimate penalty for selling damaged and repaired vehicles without disclosures, it has demonstrated a particular disdain for its customers who should reasonably expect a new car at full price to be new and defect free, not damaged and repaired. Even with BMW its CARveat Emptor. Don't pay too much, not even for the bad paint jobs. Apparently BMW believes that it is serving its customers by hiding damage and repairs on "new" vehicles. Don't you agree? An independent jury, ostensibly all car consumers, didn't agree. But the Supreme Court agreed that the damage award was excessive, even though no law exists limiting such awards.
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  • Update: In the absence of any Constitutional Law in this area the Supreme Court decided that the juried award against BMW for cheating its customers was excessive and remanded the case back to the lower court. On what basis does the Court decide excessive awards? There is no Constitutional Law that delineates excessive awards. The proper ruling by the Supreme Court would have been to defer to the jury, a fair representation of the consuming public, which fairly, legally and democratically rendered its opinion and decision in the matter of BMW's treatment of the public in the marketplace.
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  • BMW was dinged in Marin County, California in 1994-95 for saying in its advertisements that its 750i model displayed no signs of wear after 100,000 miles. Well, of course this was untrue, and BMW had documents that showed it knew the ad was false. BMW, well--BMW consumers anyway, paid $400,000 to settle, while blaming its advertising firm, denying responsibility. What's new?
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  • BMW is currently running advertisements claiming its vehicles "virtually tune themselves." Yeah, sure? Advertisements have to be false and misleading in order to be actionable under current laws. Read between the lines of the computerized graphics in new "virtual" auto ads.
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  • Hardly a week goes by without another expose by "60 Minutes" or other news outlet about sham, fraud and unfair or manipulative practices in sales and servicing of automobiles. For a product which nearly everyone feels, rightly or wrongly, a need to have at least one of every few years, and a product which needs constant repair, dealers and repair shops should not have to, nor should they be permitted to cheat our friends and families to make a Gucci-lifestyle killing.
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  • The automobile industry has waged war on the American consumer since the days of shady horse and buggy trading. Unfortunately consumers have passively accepted the situation without asserting the consumer's rightful role and force in the marketplace over product, price, and quality, and on consumer protection. If you cannot have your government protect you from car dealers, how on earth do you expect that it will address the other important issues of the day?
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  • It was reported that automobile manufacturers were withholding necessary computerized repair diagnostic information from independent auto service stations because many customers prefer to have their autos serviced by favored and sometime more price competitive independent service mechanics. Just another customer service gesture from your friendly auto maker...to keep your mechanic from access to information necessary to repair the new technology of newer new cars. Ding, ding, ding-dong!
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  • Suburu recently acknowledged as reported in the February 1997 issue of the Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, that its AWD (All wheel drive) vehicles '... can be driven on ordinary roads or off-road. But please keep in mind that an AWD Subaru is a passenger car and is neither a conventional off-road vehicle nor an all-terrain vehicle.' Its also been reported by other visitors to this site that consumers have been surprised to find out that they had voided their warranty by driving their AWD vehicles off-road. Read the warranty of any vehicle as a matter of routine in deciding the value and intended us of any vehicle, SUVs, AWDs, or other special models. Get the paperwork in advance and read it away from the dealership.
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  • Mitsubishi has recently been charged with sexual harassment by a fairly large number of employees (not just a few). Mitsubishi is also under a boycott shell for environmental concerns in third world area.
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  • Ford Motor Company is under a threat of the auto worlds largest recalls involving defective ignition systems -- seems they allegedly ignite, literally burning the vehicle and if they are stored inside a garage -- then potentially the building too. Saab is also under investigation for flammable fuse boxes. Buyer Beware -- don't pay too much for that next new car deal or lease.
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  • Mazda: This just in from Associated Press (Beth Silver, as reported in the San Francisco Examiner, cover business section, below the fold, October 29, 1996, "14 States sue Mazda on deceptive ads." Apparently Mazda's new customer service goals include creative arithmetic. Its ads reportedly stated "zero down, or "penny down." So naturally consumers were pleasantly surprised to find out that Mazda's "Zero Down" leases cost up to $900 at signing. Surprise, surprise, Mazda does the Duh? defense, saying, "'we are at a loss to understand why we are being singled out when our practices are parked in line with the rest of the industry." Bait and switch, anyone. This must be Mazda's idea of "value added" in its customer service program. Perhaps Mazda's new advertising slogan will be, "Mazda, where zeros adds up," or, "Come on down and watch us practice virtual math and car prices." Or perhaps, "Mazda, its what's between the lines of our fine print that counts."
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  • Competition encourages cheating. CARveat Emptor. Don't play car deal ball without a rule book and umpires. Make sure your government works for consumers instead of the auto industry which has demonstrated its skills in "the languages of deceit", sometimes known as selling or marketing.
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  • FIGHT -- DING BACK! Demand fairness laws in car sales and service practices. (Go to Hot/Cool/Misc. Site Link Page and Find Your Gov't Representative and make your government work for you, like the auto industry has used your money to make government work for it).
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  • NEWS FLASH!
    Surprise, Surprise!!! ...
    Car dealers and manufacturers diversify into sour citrus produce... Interstate Lemon Laundering, Inc. UnLtd. Possibly as near as your local factory "authorized" car dealer? Heads up, keep your eye on the car deal ball! Foul!
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  • "Lemon" automobiles secretly sold in other states,-- consumer groups want US probe of lemon-car "laundering" between dealers across state lines), by Mary Deibel, Scripps Howard News Service (Nov. 1995)
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  • If that "new" car you have your eye on has mileage on it, and has been represented as having been driven by a "corporate executive," don't buy it, or at least deduct a huge DING factor from your final offer. Good chances are it is a "lemon" laundered from another state or another dealer, or it may actually have been an abused rental or lease car (you have no way of knowing for sure that a car represented as new even in writing is actually new, or any other way of verifying any representation by a dealer or salesperson under the pressure of putting food on the table by commissioned wages). If buying one, consumers should make sure to DING the dealer and manufacturer before getting dinged on product, quality, or price. Do the title search, even on so called new vehicles to make sure the vehicle is not a "takeback" from an original purchaser.
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  • Odometer fraud costs consumers over $10 billion annually. Apparently consumer service in the auto industry does not include guaranteed mileage. While the technology has existed for decades, the industry has yet to build and install tamper-proof odometers. Expect tamper-proof engine-clocks about fifty years after manufacturers decide tamper-proof odometers is a consumer service.
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  • AARP's, "Deals on Wheels," senior consumer protection awareness brochure includes references to a report by Ian Ayres, entitled, "Fair Driving: Gender and Race Discrimination in Retail Car Negotiations," a study under the auspices of the American Bar Foundation, noted a vast difference in the markup "earned" by new car dealers, depending on whether the customer was a white male, a black male, or a women (white or black). The disparity was dramatic. Based on the study: white females paid 40% more than white males; black males paid twice the markup; and black females paid three times as much markup. Apparently grandmothers are well advised to be CARveat Emptor when negotiating dealer profits on all new car purchase and lease deals, as these results were apparently not due do negotiating abilities but rather due to dealer attitude and demeanor toward various consumers. ("Deals on Wheels," is available from AARP, and contains other good consumer information for seniors and others who are interested in reducing the scam factor in new car deals, get a copy of it, and share it widely with family, friends, neighbors and enemies. -- Be particularly careful if a dealer directs you to a third party lender and you are asked to mortgage your home for the security of an automobile purchase. If the automobile is not security enough, buy one that is, buy somewhere else, or don't buy at all, as the risks are generally too great under such deals.)
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  • One way to ding the dealer and manufacturer is to deduct the new car depreciation costs (reported to be an average of $3500) from the manufacturer's invoice of all new car purchases and walk until the dealer talks. Consumers can help control the price of new cars and dealer and manufacturer profits. Why would you pay a $3500 new car depreciation fee for a vehicle that neither you nor the dealer can prove is really new and defect free? Consider estimating the various costs the industry includes in the price of its products such as governmental lobbying costs to fight consumer protection laws, attorney fees, advertising costs, etc., that merely inflate car prices without providing any value added to the product or to the consumer, and deduct these estimated costs from your final offer. Obtain these costs from the dealer or manufacturer is possible, otherwise estimate them as a ding-dong factor and deduct them from your final offer and walk until the dealer talks.
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  • Consumers risk getting salvaged (rebuilt vehicles that have been "totaled" in accidents) vehicles from used car dealers, although they can be sold or "offered" by private sales too. Curb-stoning, the practice of used or new car dealers trying to pass themselves off as private sellers by selling vehicles through low-key newspaper ads from the side of the street -- from curbside. Consider requesting names of prior owners and contact information from the seller if possible to verify prior use and mileage of the vehicle. Put this important car deal checklist item on your car deal checklist, near the top. Keep this information about your vehicles and provide it to consumers who consider purchasing your old car too, as a service to the consumer. Avoid purchasing used cars without adequate research and verified documentation of prior use, maintenance, condition and mileage. Contact former owners. Avoid buying used vehicles when there is no paper trail from which to contact and verify sales representations about the use and condition of the vehicle.
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  • Have new and used vehicles checked out by a trustworthy and trusted (1) independent mechanic or repair shop, and, (2) a body repair shop before buying. Request a full written disclosure of defects, damages, mileage, use, condition and any other criteria or information you want or need as a consumer. State departments of motor vehicles usually can provide consumers with a title search of vehicles for a small fee, which may provide important information about the prior use, condition, mileage and salvage status the vehicle. Its worth taking the extra time and making the extra effort as used car purchases are fraught with considerable risk, notwithstanding clear title searches. Request copies of recent smog testing results too where they are required.
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  • A Current Affair aired a report on November 27, 1995, where it was represented by a consumer protection agency staff member that half (1/2) of newspaper automobile classified advertising involved "curb-stoning", which is a technique where dealers sell vehicles from the curbside, representing themselves as private citizens to avoid the scrutiny a dealer might receive. (Gee, why doesn't the newspaper caution its readers about this fact).
  •  
  • The mileage odometers on these "curbstoned" vehicles were rolled back to make them appear more valuable....folks, don't buy a used car from anyone without doing a title search through your state department of motor vehicles -- if the vehicle is not traceable -- don't buy it...at least not without a large "ding-dong factor" deducted for the uncertainty factor of the vehicle's mileage and serviceability. This is a good idea for new cars too, as consumers can never tell anymore about the prior use, condition or origin of so called new vehicles,--sometimes dealers or the trucking company that transports vehicles "forget" or "miss" the important stuff on disclosures, and after the sale its difficult to prove responsibility with a difficult dealer or seller, although this is not impossible in some cases. Some states, such as California do not require disclosures of damage repairs under $500 in value. More expensive damage repairs may be hidden or done on the cheap to avoid the disclosure requirement threshold. And required disclosures just may be overlooked purposefully or by mistake.
  •  
  • Obtain a Title Search on Used Cars... before buying. Your State Department of Motor Vehicles should be able to assist you with obtaining a vehicle title search for a nominal price.
  •  
  • While NBC unfortunately ended up with exhaust in its face after faking explosion and fire over the GM pick-up side impact exposed gas tanks, the fact remains that some 300 people were burned to death in crashes involving the pick-up with gas tanks exposed outside the chassis frame just beneath the thin membrane of tin that covers the exterior of vehicles. NBC's "demonstration" got in the way of a real story on the issue. Note that without notice or fanfare, GM redesigned its gas tank placement on all its vehicles to place fuel tanks conspicuously between the chassis frames and between the axles as an added measure of protection from side or rear impacts. Until the potentially explosive chemical nature of gasoline is changed, this is a no-brainer. As remarkable as this may sound, the resale of GM pick-ups with the side impact gas tanks apparently increased based on consumer's willingness to pay more, rather than to avoid purchasing vehicles with unresolved health and safety issues, or to use the inferior gas tank placement design flaw as a bargaining chip to negotiate a lower purchase price. Currently only Volkswagen's EuroVan and Mazda's MPV display fuel tanks exposed outside the chassis frame beneath the vehicle to side impacts. It may pay to get down and look under the next car you buy to see where the gas tank is located, or if it has one.
  •  
  • The industry's idea of customer service is offering "drop-dead, you bought it, you own it," deals on a very expensive product after only a single test drive. Consider trying to negotiate a 30 day return clause to any lease or purchase agreement. Any credible manufacturer or dealer should offer or make new vehicles available for extensive personal use prior to expecting the average consumer to "eat" a deal based on limited knowledge and experience with the vehicle. Look, the name of the car deal game is, "whatever traffic allows." Until consumers in significant numbers demand better, the industry will continue to assume that its sales figures justifies its shabby customer service practices. Expect and demand more, including pricing more closely related to the costs of making the product. Consider renting any new car you wish to buy for thirty days with an option to purchase with the rental fee applying to the purchase price. This is reasonable and fair. If the dealer says no, don't buy it!
  •  
  • In addition to the high costs of unfair, manipulative, and fraudulent sales and service practices in the auto industry, incompetence (the duh? or "oops" factor) in this industry also imposes a high cost on consumers. And some dealers are not above playing dumb when a few bucks are in the balance sheet. This industry has successfully fought consumer protection laws which would give consumers a fair shake in sales and service transactions. Demand that this industry be regulated, that sales and service personnel be trained, tested, and monitored for competency in fair sales and service practices. You won't get it until and unless you demand it. Do it today! We regulate real estate agents. Some luxury models of automobiles costs as much or more than the median home price, and a lifetime of vehicle purchase and maintenance costs equal or exceed the dollar amount of the purchase of the average American home. So, why don't we regulate automobile dealers like we do real estate agents? Its another no-brainer folks.
  •  
  • General Motors and members of the tire (Firestone) and oil (Standard) industry bought up the light railways and trolley systems in 28 cites in order Corner the market in autos--to monopolize the transportation industry. This destroyed the street car system in Los Angeles leading to the concrete jungle there of contemporary fame. This successfully denied the public of necessary public mass transit options and alternatives to the monopoly and addiction of the "private" automobile. General Motors paid a $5,000 fine for its part in this monopolistic "restraint of free trade". A nice investment in the future which auto consumers continue to pay for with each new car purchase or lease deal today and tomorrow. Today the tobacco industry, tomorrow the automobile industry?

      Beware the effects of second hand auto exhaust. Does the car you own or may be about to purchase only suck in polluted air or does it permit recycling interior air or filtering air from outside so you can avoid freeway toxins and commuter exhaust hot spots in stop and go gridlocked traffic?

Also see AutoBuyology's -- Consumer Resources sub-pages for additional information on Cases Against the Automobile Industry. (This is a very abbreviated list, as the full list is too long to display in this space).

Auto Alternatives | Drive Shafts | Dealing With The Dealer
Hidden Profit$ | Consumer Driven Deals | Car Consumer Resources
Auto Industry Cases | Car Deal Repair Kit | My Last VW Mistake
"Ten Reasons" | Lemon Proofing Deals | CARveat's Caveat
You Can Help | CARveat Emptor Flyer | VW Junkyard | Links
My Other Car Not A VW | Legislative Alerts | Dodging Chryslers
Mini Van Junkyard | Activist Flyers True Costs of Driving | Car Deal Illiteracy
15 Sec. Car Deal Lecture | Parallel Parking | Test-I-Moanials

 

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