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Here's what recourse is available for consumers who buy lemon cars

Legal process can be lengthy, but expert says the more people who fight, the better
Rental cars
Posted at 8:22 PM, May 20, 2023

DENVER — Colorado’s “lemon law” only applies to new cars, but many used car buyers are still getting saddled with duds.

But just because a used car turned out to be damaged goods doesn’t mean there is no recourse for the consumer. And there are also things buyers can do to prevent themselves from buying a lemon in the first place.

“The more people that fight back, the more dealerships will stop doing this to people, hopefully,” said Matthew Osborne, a consumer protection attorney in the Denver metro area.

One tip to avoid getting a lemon in the first place is to do an inspection before buying a car. But if that doesn’t happen, consumers still have options despite the state’s weak consumer protection laws.

Customers can ask for a refund and seek legal help from an attorney. Sometimes those cases will go to arbitration or to small claims court.

Another option is to file a complaint with the state’s Auto Industry Division and the Attorney General’s Office.

Osborne said that if a customer can prove the dealership knew about the damages and didn’t disclose, they could sue for fraud. They can also sue to cancel the sale. But still, these can be long and difficult processes.

“Dealerships have to disclose what they know about (a car). It can oftentimes be difficult to prove who knew what and when,” Osborne said. “And proving which one of them knew about the damages and who didn’t disclose it can be challenging, though not impossible.”

And even if someone buys a car “as is,” that doesn’t mean there a person just has to move on. As long as a customer did not know about any issues and there is a major defect, they could still get their money back.


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Colorado lemon laws leave used car buyers feeling stranded

Jaclyn Allen
2:49 PM, May 20, 2023

“‘As is’ is not a license to commit fraud,” Osborne said.

Osborne says he hopes the state will act to enhance consumer protections and the more customers know about their options and take action, the better.

“It’s important to do stories like this,” he said. It’s important for people to fight back."

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