Dealers Selling Unsafe Cars, Failing to Perform Safety Inspections, Concealing Safety Issues

Safety is one of the most important features that consumers measure when shopping for a vehicle to purchase or lease. When dealers sell or lease a vehicle, they are legally required to have had that vehicle inspected for safety. The vehicle must pass inspection and be granted a certificate of compliance in order for a dealer to sell or lease that vehicle.

Anything that affects a vehicle’s safety must be repaired prior to sale. Sometimes however, when a vehicle fails a safety inspection, it’s easier and less expensive for a dealer to conceal the vehicle’s problems than to repair them. This leads to dealers selling unsafe vehicles, concealing failed inspections, fabricating inspection documents to make it appear as though the vehicle has passed inspection, or failing to inspect certain vehicles altogether.

Needless to say, any failure to have a vehicle inspected for safety, or any tampering with safety inspection standards, is a major danger to drivers, their families, and others on the road. It is also unlawful and dealers who participate in these unsafe practices face serious legal consequences.

If you were sold or leased a vehicle that was not inspected for safety, whose safety defects were hidden from you, or if you suspect that your vehicle’s safety inspection certificate was fabricated by your dealer, then you may be entitled to a vehicle refund, replacement, and may be able to collect on related damages. If a dealer compromised your wellbeing by not following proper safety inspection guidelines, their actions are unlawful and punishable.

Contact us at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri for a FREE consultation with one of our auto fraud attorneys who can address any questions or concerns you may have. You can also submit a FREE online evaluation form through our site so that a member of our firm can contact you personally to discuss your legal options and next steps. Reach us at 213-282-2000 for a free and personal legal consultation

What are safety inspections?

Before a vehicle can be sold or leased, federal and state guidelines mandate that dealers must have the vehicle inspected for safety before a consumer can take it home. The reasoning behind this requirement is straightforward: ensuring a vehicle is safe is in the best interest of everyone on the road. Safety inspections are conducted by a DMV registered mechanic who provides a certificate documenting a vehicle’s passing status.

Safety inspections test everything relevant to safety on a vehicle, even the windshield wipers, to ensure that the driver will not face an unnecessary risk due to a defective vehicle.

Why do dealers evade safety inspection guidelines, conceal safety problems, or fail to have a vehicle inspected?

Providing a safe vehicle to customers may seem like a basic and obvious standard for dealers, but often times dealers avoid following safety protocols in order to save themselves time, money, and effort. For dealers, selling a vehicle can be a risky balancing game because they don’t want to invest so much in a vehicle that it doesn’t give them the desired profit. And since not every car on their lot is sold, dealers try to maximize any profits and minimize any costs in order to keep their businesses prosperous. Unfortunately, prioritizing financial success over a costumer’s wellbeing and interests can lead to a lot of trouble for consumers.

Dealers may try and skirt safety inspection guidelines because of the added time and expense that an inspection would cost them. A dealer might wait to have certain vehicles inspected because they may be unsure of whether or not they’ll ultimately be able to sell them. But by the time a costumer has come along and expressed interest, it may be inconvenient for a dealer to delay a sale in order to go through the inspection process and repair anything that might cause a vehicle to fail.

If a vehicle fails inspection and repairs would cost more than a dealer is willing to pay, then they might alter or fake inspection documents to render a successfully passing grade. Dealers might also mislead customers into thinking their vehicle meets all safety standards, when in fact their vehicle did not adequately pass inspection. The point is, a dealer has a clear incentive to defraud a costumer when it comes to safety inspections: safety inspections take time, effort, and are costly as any vehicle that does not pass inspections or exhibits any problems upon inspection must be repaired at the dealer’s expense.

A dealer’s incentive to defraud a customer when it comes to issues of safety may be obvious, but the law requires that every vehicle passes a safety inspection prior to being offered for sale, and any actions that violate that standard are unlawful.

How do safety inspections work?

Safety inspections ensure that a vehicle’s various components operate in accordance with federal and state safety standards. These inspections review everything on a vehicle from its seatbelts and windshield wipers to its brakes and airbags. Each individual item on a vehicle must adhere to strict and detailed guidelines, but altogether, the following items in particular are reviewed during safety inspections:

Safety Belts/Seatbelts

Appropriate and effective safety belts are one of the most important conditions for safety a vehicle can possess. Each vehicle must come equipped with at least two seatbelts: for the driver and front seat passenger.


Airbags are also considered to be one of the most important aspects of a vehicle’s safety. Airbags act as a supplemental restraint system, designed to deploy upon collision, minimizing crash impact for passengers.

Windshield/Rear Window

Experts rank windshields and rear windows as the third most important safety aspect in vehicles. Windshields often operate in conjunction with airbags and restraint systems. A rear windshield may not, in any way, impair the driver’s range of vision.


Brakes, a key safety and mechanical feature in all vehicles, must be in good working order and operate equally on all wheels.

Headlamps & Multi-beam Headlamps

Headlamps must be in good working order, using bulbs with the appropriate voltage, and each vehicle must be equipped with at least two. Multi-beam headlamps require that a driver must be able to adjust between high beam and low beam views. High beam lights should be able to reveal people and vehicles at distances of at least 350ft. away in all conditions, and low beams should be able to do the same at distances of 100ft.


In California, each vehicle must be equipped with at least two mirrors, including one on the left-hand side of the driver, providing rear views ranging at least 200ft.

Stop lamps

Each vehicle, excluding motorcycles, must come with two stop lamps: one to be mounted on the right, the other on the left, and both at the same level.


Every vehicle should be equipped with at least two taillights, one on the left, the other on the right, and both at the same level.


The tires used to equip a particular vehicle must bear the appropriate tread depth, unless a spare tire is being used temporarily for a disabled vehicle.

Other items inspected for crash and safety effectiveness are a vehicle’s doors, shock absorbers, steering system, speedometer, and windshield wipers.

If one or more of the items listed above were compromised at the time of your vehicle’s lease or sale, then it is likely your dealer did not have your vehicle sufficiently inspected, or could have had your safety inspection results tampered with to avoid paying for repairs. Safety inspections exist for a reason: to protect drivers, their families, and everyone whom they share the road with. If a dealer sold or leased you a vehicle that does not comply with safety regulations, did not supply you with proper safety certificates before your sale/lease, or if you suspect your documents may be fraudulent, you may be facing serious safety and financial risks. You may be entitled to a vehicle refund, replacement, and related damages.

Contact us at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri. We have a 99% success rate representing Californians in the areas of auto fraud, dealer fraud, lemon law, and consumer protection. If you suspect that the vehicle sold or leased to you might be of questionable safety due to your dealer’s negligence or wrongdoing, call us at 213-282-2000 for a FREE consultation with one of our auto fraud attorneys. You can also submit a FREE online evaluation form through our website, to be reviewed by a member of our team who will contact you personally to address any questions or concerns you may have and to inform you of your legal options.

What are the signs your vehicle is unsafe or has not been properly inspected for safety?

The clearest indicators that your vehicle may have safety defects are the warning lights that vehicles display on your dashboard. There are various warning lights, each representing different mechanical and safety aspects of a vehicle. These lights warn drivers of problems or potential problems with a vehicle and should be inspected by a trusted mechanic as soon possible.

  • Check Engine Light (CEL)/ Malfunction Indicator Light (MEL)
  • Coolant Temp Warning
  • Oil Pressure Warning
  • Service Vehicle Soon Warning
  • Brake System Warning
  • ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) Warning
  • Airbag Fault Warning
  • Lamp Out Warning
  • ESP Fault Warning (involves traction control/anti-skid functions)
  • Reduced Power Warning
  • TPMS Warning (tire pressure monitoring system)
  • Transmission Temperature Warning
  • Battery/Charging Alert
  • Other ways to determine if your vehicle may be unsafe or has not been properly inspected for safety is to check your vehicle for uneven wear, listen for rattling or other questionable noises, take a test drive, and/or have it formally inspected by a trusted mechanic who can review and diagnose any potential safety concerns that your dealer failed to disclose or fix.

    Why is selling an unsafe vehicle, concealing safety problems, or failing to have a vehicle safety inspected unlawful?

    Vehicles get us where we need to go—to work, back home, to run errands, take vacations, attend family events, and more. They play a huge role in our daily lives and it’s fair to expect that we, as drivers, do not assume an unreasonable risk each time we go for a drive. The federal and state governments require that each vehicle undergo a basic safety inspection prior to sale by a dealership because safety is a basic human and consumer right when purchasing and operating a vehicle. Any dealer that compromises safety in order to save themselves time or money is in serious violation of the law and is putting you, your family, and other drivers on the road at risk.

    All vehicles must be tested for safety prior to being offered for sale. A dealer is not only required to provide a certificate following a passing safety inspection, but they are also required to disclose any prior damage that compromises a vehicle, along with any known condition the vehicle may have. It is the legal duty of the dealer to have each vehicle inspected, and when necessary, to repair any safety problems. Dealers cannot even sell a vehicle “as-is” if they have knowledge or should have had knowledge of a vehicle’s safety defect. When a dealer attempts to sell a vehicle that does not meet safety regulations, they are either directly skirting the law or are being dangerously negligent in their lack of oversight.

    Safety is paramount when considering a vehicle, and if you are misled or not provided with all the information and documentation necessary to make an informed safety decision, then your dealer is at fault and you may be entitled to a vehicle refund, replacement, and related damages.

    Why you need an attorney

    If a dealer has attempted to skirt the law by concealing safety defects on a vehicle, or if a dealer failed to have a vehicle properly inspected and certified, then their actions are unlawful and punishable. Not only have they acted unlawfully, but they have put you and your family at risk and cheated you on one of the largest transactions a consumer can make. If you were not provided with a safety certificate before your sale, if you discovered safety defects that should have been disclosed or rectified after a safety inspection, or if you suspect that you dealer altered documents or failed to have your vehicle inspected at all, you may be entitled to a vehicle refund, replacement, and related damages.

    Who We Are

    At the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri, we have a commitment to fighting for the rights of consumers. Our attorneys have a 99% success rate representing Californians in the areas of auto fraud, dealer fraud, lemon law, and consumer protection. We generally operate on a contingency basis so that the losing party covers our fees when your case is won. With a 99% rate of success, this makes securing representation financially practical and low-risk. With a reputation that places us at the top of our field, our lemon law lawyers give each client the care and attention required, and litigate each case to the full extent of the law.

    If your safety was compromised by the wrongdoing or negligence of a dealer who failed to follow safety regulations when selling or leasing you a vehicle, you are entitled to a vehicle refund, replacement, and related damages. For a FREE consultation regarding your case, contact our offices at 213-282-2000 so that a member of our firm can address any questions or concerns you may have. You can also fill out a FREE online evaluation form through our website. The details of your case will be reviewed and a representative of the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri will contact you personally to answer your questions, discuss your legal options, and advise you on your next steps.

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    Lemon Law Auto Fraud serves the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.

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