Kia Forte Repurchase Amount Doubled After Kia Illegally Lowballed Initial Buyback Offer

A repurchase offer with illegal deductions was recalculated into a fair offer bolstered by civil penalties against Kia Motor America for its willful violation of our clients’ rights under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (also known as California’s Lemon Law). After failing to repair our clients’ 2017 Kia Forte for recurring engine and headlight issues, our client was awarded $72,286.02 – more than twice the vehicle’s initial purchase price.

Plaintiffs Yanali Cruz and Javier Ramirez, represented by attorneys Scot Wilson, Jeffery Mukai, and senior paralegal Diana Folia of Knight Law Group, purchased a new 2017 Kia Forte on January 27, 2017 for a total sales price of $33,967.28. The cash price of the vehicle was $16,000.00.

However, at approximately 31,000 miles, our clients noticed that the car would not start and had to jump start the car. They presented the Kia Forte to the dealership for repairs. When they received their repair orders, they were told that two service campaigns had been applied to their vehicle.

Service campaigns, for reference, are deployed by manufacturers to address common issues in a particular lineup of vehicles. The service campaigns referenced in this repair visit applied to engine misfires, a defect that our clients only started experiencing after the initial repair visit for the battery concern.

In addition to engine misfires, Ramirez noticed that his Forte’s headlights would pulsate on and off while he was driving the car at night which made it difficult for him to see, and left him fearing that he would be involved in a road rage altercation.

At 51,000 miles, our clients brought their vehicle in for repair for engine misfires in what would later become a series of repeat repairs for misfires. Our clients reported vehicle shaking, a severe loss of power, and an incident during which the car stalled on an intersection, causing them to block traffic. A technician at the dealership confirmed that the two service campaigns documented on previous repair orders had not actually been performed. However, the service campaigns did not fix the problem, and the vehicle continued to have problems.

After experiencing recurring issues with their battery, engine and headlights, our clients requested a repurchase of their Kia Forte. In response, Kia showed its usual dishonesty. Kia required that our clients sign a release agreement before they could see any of its terms. In attempt to lowball its repurchase offer, Kia tried to offset the buyback amount in four key ways:

  1. Kia used an incorrect higher mileage offset.
  2. Kia did not offer a reimbursement of registration fees or insurance.
  3. Kia deducted the service contracts from its repurchase offer.
  4. Kia required our clients to use a cashier’s check to pay for any wear and tear that Kia deems excessive upon presentation of the vehicle to the dealership.

These tactics, many of which are illegal, are commonly used by auto manufacturers that want to trick consumers into accepting lowball offers for their defective cars.

The mileage offset is calculated based on the mileage at which the defect first became apparent. Kia tried to claim that the defect first became apparent at 51,000 miles, the point at which our client had taken the vehicle in for a subsequent repair visit. However, the previous repair visit at approximately 31,000 miles showed manufacturer knowledge of engine misfires as a common problem in this particular lineup of vehicles, and that their authorized dealership attempted to remedy this defect – hence the two service campaigns that supposedly had been implemented for our client.

Ultimately, Kia’s attempts to lowball our clients failed. We decreased the mileage offset, obtained reimbursement for the vehicle’s registration, and had the service contracts reimbursed as part of recovery for collateral charges. On top of that, the undisclosed release agreement and illegal condition clause revealed the extent to which Kia was willfully violating our clients’ consumer rights under the Song-Beverly Act.

After our hard-fought victory against Kia, the jury awarded our clients $24,095.34 in actual damages and $48,190.68 in civil penalties.

The extent to which Kia Motors America is willing to be dishonest toward consumers has been revealed yet again. Knight Law Group, the leading California lemon law firm, will continue to protect the rights of consumers at the receiving end of auto manufacturers’ deceptive and illegal practices.

Case: Cruz, Yanali & Ramirez, Javier v. KMA, 22STCV05746

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