Put the Squeeze on Dealers That Sell Lemons

California resident Travis Z. Gonzales thought he had purchased a car at the Costa Mesa CarMax location. Instead, the 2007 Infiniti G35 he drove out of the lot was actually a lemon on wheels.

Shortly after buying the car, Gonzales began experiencing several mechanical problems such aDevicess malfunctioning windows, transmission problems and instrument panel warning lights that illuminated routinely or in clusters. Plus, the brake pads needed to be replaced.

Gonzales filed a lawsuit against CarMax, alleging that he made the decision to purchase his vehicle from the dealership based upon the CarMax ads that highlight the benefits of its 125-point inspection.

He won. In October, a federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that CarMax’s inspection process violates California’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights. The bill, passed in 2006, requires dealers of certified used vehicles to conduct and provide consumers with a checklist of every component that has been inspected and if those components satisfactorily passed the inspection. Evidence in the case proved that CarMax provides a list of components inspected, but does not provide information about the status of those components.

Put the Squeeze on For Free

If you find yourself with a lemon in your driveway, there is another option to going to court:  you can take advantage of California’s Lemon Law, which is regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program (ACP). The Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles sold or leased in California that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. The arbitration process is free and no attorney is needed. You can find out more about the Lemon Law and what it covers in ACP’s booklet, Lemon-Aid for Consumers, available online in both English and Spanish at www.dca.ca.gov/acp.

The Philosophy of Real Estate

If you watch Modern Family, you’re familiar with Phil Dunphy, suburban Los Angeles real estate agent and self-proclaimed real estate guru. You may have even caught one of the Real Estate Phil’s-osophies commercials for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) starring Ty Burrell, the actor who plays Dunphy. It’s not part of the show: NAR hired Burell to star in-character in a series of commercials that advise consumers to seek out a REALTOR® when buying or selling property.

A real estate agent talking about the pros of hiring a REALTOR® —are you confused? Is there a difference between the two?

There is. And there isn’t. dunphey

When you enter the world of buying and selling real estate, you are confronted with several different titles: real estate agent (also known as real estate salesperson), REALTOR®, real estate broker.

Let’s start with Real Estate Agents, or Real Estate Salespersons. These professionals are licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE), which licenses and regulates the more than 400,000 Mortgage Loan Originators, Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons in California. In order to be licensed in California, you must qualify for and pass a written examination, then submit an application to CalBRE for approval. Anyone who conducts real estate activities in California must be licensed and must conduct business as stated in the California Real Estate Laws and Regulations.

A Real Estate Broker has continued his or her education past that required at the real estate agent or salesperson level and has passed the real estate broker licensing exam. Real estate brokers can work as independent real estate agents or they can have agents working for them. Brokers can work on their own, while agents or salespersons have to work under licensed brokers.

Last but not least, there’s REALTOR®. In order to join this one-million-member national association, you must be a licensed real estate agent in your state, and you must uphold the NAR’s strict code of ethics and standards.

It sounds like a Phil’s-osophy: Not all licensees are REALTORS®, but all REALTORS® must be licensees.

And there you have it—a little information to help you get through the maze of buying and selling—or at least know who’s who.

Don’t forget to check the license before you decide on a real estate agent! To check a license, visit the CalBRE website, www.calbre.ca.gov, or call (877) 373-4542. To verify that an agent belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®, go to www.realtor.com.



Since 2001, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has declared one week in June as National Automotive Service Professionals Week.


This year, June 8 – 14, is the designated week for consumers to show their appreciation to the men and women who repair and help maintain the myriad of vehicles we depend on for our daily transportation needs.

Today’s vehicles are more sophisticated and technically advanced than earlier models.  They are essentially computers driving on America’s roads.  Hours of training and education are necessary to properly diagnose and repair these vehicles and it requires a significant level of knowledge, skill and dedication.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs along with the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Arbitration Certification Program are proud to recognize these professionals for their commitment to their customers and the automotive industry.

New Video on the California Lemon Law

Have you ever wondered when a car is considered a “lemon?”  Do you know what to do if you think your car might be a lemon?  The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program (ACP) has released a new video to educate consumers on the California Lemon Law and how the ACP can assist consumers pursue resolution to their vehicle disputes.

The Arbitration Certification Program was established to protect California new car owners by ensuring state certified arbitration programs provide a fair and quick process for resolving Lemon Law disputes.

If you or someone you know has a vehicle that has had persistent problems while still under the manufacturer’s warranty, it could be a lemon.  Watch this video and learn more about your rights as a consumer.