Various Consumer Complaints SignsDespite reports of many brand-new scams in 2015, auto problems continue to top the Consumer Federation of America’s (CFA) annual list of consumer complaints. To gather the information, 33 consumer agencies from 21 states compiled and categorized the complaints they received in the last year. A perennial chart-topper, complaints about buying and repairing cars did not disappoint this year.

What People Complain About

When it comes to cars, consumer agencies receive complaints about all of the following areas:

  • Advertising. False and misleading advertising reels people into dealerships and often puts them in cars they were not interested in in the first place. 

  • Sales. Consumers frequently report being misled by high-pressure salespeople and dishonest contracts at car dealerships.

  • Repairs. Repair shops that overcharge or fail to deliver promised services are a major source of consumer complaint.

  • Lemons. Even with strong Lemon Laws in place, consumers are rightfully annoyed by having to go through the process to have a lemon car replaced.

  • Leasing. Misunderstandings about mileage limits and fees lead to many consumer complaints about new car leasing.

  • Towing. There are plenty of dishonest towing company that require down payments, but don’t follow through with quality service, damage cars in transport, and worse.

What to Do to Avoid These Problems

The CFA recommends taking the following steps to avoid being taken advantage of:

  • Look for auto repair facilities that feature technicians certified by the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

  • When you have a problem with an auto repair shop, give the owner or manager a chance to resolve it. If that fails, contact your state or local consumer protection agency for advice and assistance.

  • Before you buy a used car, have it checked out by a mechanic and a body shop you trust to look for problems that might not be obvious to you until after the purchase. You can also get its previous history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System,  A Carfax and Auto Check vehicle history reports are just ok.  Be aware that these companies' databases are incomplete.  Just becuase the report indicates no problem, it does not mean the vehicle has not been wrecked or does not have mechanical problems.

  • If you suspect that a car dealer is doing something suspicious, report it to your state or local consumer protection agency.

If you have a serious complaint against an auto dealership or repair shop, you can also contact the consumer attorneys at our office in Richmond.


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