How Do I Get My Car Back From a Dealer?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

 I bought a brand new Cadillac SRX 3 months ago.  After 3000 miles, the transmission went out.  The dealer has had the vehicle for over two weeks and I have heard nothing from them.  What are my legal rights?

Obviously, the dealer cannot keep your car indefinitely without compensation. That would be theft. It would also be very bad business. Your first course of action should be to contact the dealer to find out what’s going on. They may still be working on the issue, or may be waiting for approval to do further work or even replace the car. If you contact them and they are still working to resolve the problem, or you find that you and your car fell through the cracks, you may be able to negotiate directly with the dealer for a satisfactory outcome. Your state may have lemon laws that protect you in the purchase of a new car, which can also provide you with some relief.

If the dealer is not cooperative, you can contact your local police or your state’s attorney general (or similar) office. The you can file a report of theft with the police, and you can file a consumer affairs complaint with the attorney general. If you decide this course of action is necessary, make sure you are current on your payments and have made a good faith effort to resolve the situation with the dealer. Ultimately, you may decide to file a lawsuit against the dealer for the costs of a replacement car during the period you did not have your car, as well as any additional costs you incurred from this loss.  If you decide to take this course of action, you should consult an attorney who can advise you as to the process, the amount you can expect to recover, and the likelihood of success of such a lawsuit.