How to Report a Car Dealership [Step-by-Step Guide]
Michael Collado is a car buying expert and has been a professional automotive writer since 2009. He’s written about dealership sales, vehicle reviews and comparisons, and service and maintenance for over 100 national automotive dealerships. Previously, Collado was a copywriter at the ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day where he worked on brand campaigns for Nissan, ABC Television, Sony PlayStation, and Energizer. His recognition in the ad industry includes awards from Communication Arts and The Clios.
Collado has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Marketing.
Reporting to proper authorities can be an effective way to hold the dealership accountable for its actions and protect other consumers from having a similar experience.
Before you begin the process of reporting a car dealership, it's important to gather all the necessary information and have a clear understanding of the situation.
We've done the research and created this handy resource to help you take proper steps if you feel that a dealership has scammed you.
Table of Contents
- Common Complaints Against Car Dealerships
- 3). False Mileage
- 4). Selling Flooded or Totaled Vehicles
- 5). Selling a Vehicle Without a Clear Title
- What About Lemon Laws?
- How to Report a Car Dealership
- Where to Find a Complaint Against a Dealership
- Best Car Deals by Category
- Frequently Asked Questions
Common Complaints Against Car Dealerships
1). Deceptive Cars Ads
Sometimes a dealership will advertise prices that are too good to be true. In other cases, the dealership will advertise a low-priced car that was never really available in the first place.
In some cases, these ads can violate a state’s, “bait and switch” law.
2). Lemon Law Violation
This is a case where you are sold a vehicle that can not be properly repaired. Usually, a dealership will have three opportunities to repair a vehicle.
If the vehicle is not repaired correctly after the third try, then they have to repurchase the car from you and provide a full refund.
3). False Mileage
Some dealerships may try to sell you a car that has had its odometer rolled back. That’s because a vehicle with lower miles can be sold at a higher price.
However, vehicles that have more miles on them are more likely to require more frequent repairs.
4). Selling Flooded or Totaled Vehicles
There are also some cases where a dealership will try to sell a vehicle that has been totaled or a vehicle that has been flooded without notifying the buyer. If a vehicle has been flooded or totaled, then this need to be indicated as a branded title.
5). Selling a Vehicle Without a Clear Title
This is when a dealership sells you a used vehicle that does not have a clear title.
Without a clear title, the buyer does not technically own the vehicle and will not be able to have it registered.
What About Lemon Laws?
Lemon Laws are designed to protect people who purchase a new vehicle that is riddled with defects. Lemon Laws vary from state to state.
In most cases, a dealership will have three attempts to repair a vehicle that has an issue. If the vehicle is not properly repaired after the third attempt, then the dealership must give the purchaser a full refund.
How to Report a Car Dealership
There are several ways to report a car dealership. However, you need to take the right steps to get the desired results.
Here are the following steps that you should take:
Work With Dealership
First, you should work with the dealership on the issue. In many cases, the dealership will have a senior manager who handles consumer complaint issues.
You want to make sure that you exhaust this avenue before you try to seek a remedy outside of the dealership.
Work With Manufacturer
If you are not able to receive a satisfactory result from the dealership, then you will want to go directly to the manufacturer. Just about all manufacturers will have a consumer complaint hotline that you can use.
You can perform a Google search for the manufacturer’s name followed by the words, “consumer complaint phone number.” In many cases, the phone number will appear at the top of the search page results.
File a Complaint With the DMV
If the dealership and the manufacturer will not provide you with the desired results, then you should file a complaint with your state’s DMV. All state DMVs have a consumer services division.
You can usually find the link by performing a Google search for your state followed by the words, “DMV consumer services.”
Report to the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a private entity that publishes grades of various businesses because on customer interactions.
If you have had an issue with a dealership that has not been resolved, you should file a complaint through this link.
Hire a Lawyer
If you want to receive monetary damages from a dealership, you will need to hire a lawyer. You will want to look for what is known as a Lemon Law Lawyer.
You can find local attorneys by performing a Google search with your city name followed by the words, “Lemon Law Lawyer.”
Involve Local News
Another way to get the dealership to capture your attention is by involving local news. Be sure to contact the consumer advocate reporter at your local news station.
Where to Find a Complaint Against a Dealership
Here’s a look at some places where you can file complaints against a dealership.
- USA.gov - This government site offers resources for you to file complaints against any US dealership over several issues. You can get started through this link.
- NHTSA - If your vehicle is having safety issues, then you can contact the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration through this link.
- State DMV - You should contact your state’s DMV consumer safety division.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I sue a car dealership?
It is possible to sue a car dealership. However, you should try to resolve your issue directly with the dealership and the manufacturer first. This will help give you a stronger case.
What can I do if a car dealership scams me?
If a dealership scams you, then you should contact the consumer services division of your state’s DMV.
Who should you contact first with a consumer complaint?
The first person that you should contact is the manager at the dealership where you purchased the vehicle. Afterward, contact the manufacturer and then the state DMV consumer services division.
How long should I wait for a response to a complaint?
You should wait no more than five business days after contacting the manager of a car dealership.