Public Roundtables: Protecting Consumers in the Sale and Leasing of Motor Vehicles, Project No. P104811 #00025 

Submission Number:
Lance Raphael
Consumer Advocacy Center, P.C.
Initiative Name:
Public Roundtables: Protecting Consumers in the Sale and Leasing of Motor Vehicles, Project No. P104811
On Acura’s website for instance, it states “[w]hen you purchase an Acura certified used vehicle, you can expect the same uncompromising standards of a brand new car.” Not only are the “certified” used cars significantly more marketable than uncertified use cars because they are stamped with Acura’s approval, but they sell for more than their “uncertified” used car counterparts, thus creating a big incentive to sell certified used vehicles instead of uncertified ones.4. However, despite its representations, Acura has little if anything to do with the actual certification process and has no approval on which vehicles get to be sold as a “certified pre-owned” Acura. Instead, it has its dealers, without any meaningful oversight by Acura, perform the actual inspections and certifications. Acura does little but make more money as, on information and belief, it receives an additional payment from its dealers for each certified pre-owned vehicle sold. As a result, the certified used car program is a mere ruse to prompt consumers to buy used cars they would not otherwise purchase (or would only purchase for significantly less money). 12. In order to put consumers at ease regarding purchasing a used car, Acura further represents that each certified vehicle must pass a comprehensive 150-point inspection where almost every part of the vehicle is inspected and serviced to ensure it lives up to Acura’s standards. However, Acura’s representations are false and misleading because Acura fails to adequately perform, supervise, monitor, and audit its certified pre-owned car program, and instead, uses used car dealers perform the inspections and certifications that determine which vehicles are certified as Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. In July 2007, Dana and Angela Dotson were looking to buy a new car. Immediately after leaving the dealership with their “like new” MDX, the Dotsons noticed a squeaking noise coming from the rear of the vehicle. Later that night, the Dotsons noticed that the brakes were also not working properly. On August 14, 16, 24, and 29, 2007, the car would not start and needed to be jumped. The battery died on these occasions despite Respondents’ promise that the battery passed the 150-point inspection. On September 28, 2007, Ted Jurick of Joe Rizza Acura told the Dotsons that the car was not maintained properly overall and had major safety concerns, including that it had a serious brake/rotor problem.In fact, the brakes were so bad that a representative of Joe Rizza Acura stated that the brakes were so bad that “I don’t know how your MDX was able to stop.” In sum, the MDX was advertised by Acura and its Acura dealer as a “certified” vehicle. As a certified pre-owned vehicle, the car was advertised to meet Acura’s “uncompromising standards, ” to have undergone a “comprehensive 150-point vehicle inspection” by “Acura Dealership technicians” where “[v]irtually every mechanical system – from the engine to the door locks – is checked and serviced to meet precise specifications, and a thorough appearance inspection [that] scrutinizes fit and finish – inside and out – to ensure that every vehicle upholds the luxury and sophistication of the Acura name.” However, it is clear that even though the MDX was stamped as certified, it was not properly inspected prior to the Dotsons’ purchase thereof and could never have qualified as a certified pre-owned vehicle. THIS ABREVIATED SET OF FACTS IS PART OF A CLASS ACTION FORCED INTO ARBITRATION BY American Honda Motor Co., Inc. - A similar case against Acura is pending before the Federal Court. It is a little known fact that certifications by the manufacturers are much differnt than what is represented to the consumer.