Auto Dealer Law Attorneys, Business Lawyers (2022)

Opening and operating an auto dealership can be a rewarding business experience which can also have substantial financial rewards. However, in order to succeed, it is often necessary to contend with a range of legal issues that arise in the business environment.

James Arenson has spent over 22 years in the auto dealer business. The legal team at Arenson Law Group, PC has over three decades of experience. We know the convoluted rules and regulations that follow the auto dealer business and franchise law. Who knows the industry better than someone who ran their own successful dealership?

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While you can manage the business decisions necessary to build a successful auto dealership in Iowa, Wisconsin, or Minnesota, our team at Arenson Law Group, PC, knows that dealing with legal issues can be much more difficult. Fortunately, with the help of attorneys with intimate knowledge of the legal complexities auto dealerships typically face, you can rest assured that your business is in capable hands.

Do I Need an Auto Dealer Lawyer?

When opening up a new business, we often don’t reallyconsider the legal standards beforehand. Most of us don’t even think about all the different issues it till it is too late. It is important to understand what the legal do’s and don’t’s are when starting or continuing to run a business, because you can prevent legal issues before they ever arise.

Obtaining an auto dealership license can quickly lead to having to face complex rules and regulations that are hard to understand. These intricate regulations are closely monitored by State officials and Motor Vehicle boards. One wrong move and these groups have the ability to revoke your dealership license. Awareness of these rules is a necessity to keep your business afloat.

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The attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC have considerable experience and the knowledge necessary to assist you in tackling legal problems that may arise during the course of opening and owning an auto dealership. Let our skilled lawyers help you run a successful business. We can walk you through the legal landscape, keep you updated on changes in standards, and assist you through the inevitable complexities involved in auto dealer law.

Auto Dealer Compliance

Our Auto Dealer Practice Areas

Auto dealers will face many issues in the management of their businesses where legal advice and assistance is crucial. Having the guidance of a skilled attorney when dealing with the following issues can be critical:

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  • Formation of Entity: For a company to start, it is required to create a government-recognized legal entity. This entity will represent and be responsible for any dealings with the government. It is important that when forming an entity, your best interests are put first and protected.
  • Employment Issues: There are several employment issues that arise when running an auto dealership. The labor practices and guidelines can be daunting to an employer, but with a skilled attorney, you can protect your business while resolving employment disputes.
  • Expense Reduction: There are unavoidable expenses that come with owning a business. With strategic planning, it is possible to reduce some unnecessary expenses and maximize profits for the newbusiness. With a lawyer helping with expense reduction, you can focus on efficiently operating a high-quality business.
  • Franchise Relocation: Not all franchise locations are successful. In order for the business to grow, sometimes relocation is necessary. Time spent away from running the franchise means less development for the business overall. Our attorneys will handle the regulations of relocation so you can run your business.
  • Consumer Issues: The consumer is an integral part of any business, and their complaints or issues could lead difficulties for your dealership. A violation of consumer protection is serious, and our lawyers can help you navigate toward a successful outcome.
  • Publicity Issues: A company’s brand is their identity in the business world. For someone else to capitalize on the brand without permission would be a violation of the business’s right to publicity.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions: Combining businesses together comes with a whole host of hardships, such as reorganization, reconstruction, liquidations, dealing with finances, and much more. A skilled attorney can help at any stage of the process to help efficiently get to the end goal of creating a new business.
  • Franchise Divestitures: Unfortunately, sometimes one of your many franchises might not be successful. If that happens, it becomes more difficult to keep all the other franchises running. Divestiture, or the process of selling off a franchise, is an option, and an attorney can get you the best result.
  • Franchise Acquisitions: This can happen in one of two ways: being acquired or acquiring a franchise. Either way, franchise acquisition helps expand your business. Along with the process comes legal complexities that are difficult to navigate. A skilled attorney can ensure the benefits of acquisitions outweigh the risks.
  • Dealing with Crises: Crises are an inevitable part of business. While business owners are usually more than capable of dealing with crises, it is during the unexpected crises that a legal team can provide crucial assistance.
  • Cash Flow Issues: Cash flow can be difficult to manage, especially when dealing with anticipated and unanticipated expenses. Regardless, the expenses must be paid. Careful management of cash flow can help keep a business running successfully.

Whether you are facing an unexpected legal problem or need help dealing with the everyday business issues, a lawyer knowledgeable in auto dealer law can be invaluable.

Frequently Asked Questions

As an auto dealer, you probably just want to leave handling your cases to your lawyer. However, you probably have some questions of your own. Here are some of the common questions our car dealership attorneys get related to auto dealer law:

Where does your practice operate?

Our founding attorney, James Arenson, used to run his own successful auto dealership and is based in Iowa. Arenson handles cases throughout Iowa, primarily in Linn County, Benton County, Johnson County, Cedar County, Black Hawk County, Jones County, and Buchanan County. However, our practice also includes several lawyers who are licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Wisconsin. If you have a legal issue related to auto dealer law in any of these three states, our car dealership attorneys can provide the legal guidance you’re looking for.

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How can your practice help me reduce my expenses?

It costs a lot of money to run any business, especially an auto dealership, and one of the key services we provide is helping auto dealers find ways to trim their expenses. Some ways our attorneys for car dealerships can help you include:

  • Helping you choose the right structure for your business during the initial setup process to keep your expenses low
  • Helping you with employment issues, so you don’t face additional expenses from lawsuits or labor law violations
  • Finding legal ways to optimize the efficiency of your dealership, such as reducing production costs, lowering supply expenses, etc.
  • Handling franchise divestments or acquisitions in a way that keep your costs low
  • Taking care of franchise relocation issues so you can focus on the day-to-day operations of your business

Can you help me if my auto manufacturer wants to open a new dealership near me or change my market area?

An auto manufacturer’s interests don’t always line up with that of its dealers, and sometimes that means the manufacturer wants to open another franchise in an area where you’re already operating. This can put a serious financial strain on your business. The good news for dealerships is that Iowa has certain rules regarding where auto dealerships selling the same manufacturer’s vehicles can be placed. As experienced attorneys for car dealerships, we can help defend your rights and help keep your businesses as profitable as possible.

Can you help if I’ve been accused of fraud or other bad business practices by one of my customers?

Car dealerships, especially used car dealerships, often get a bad rap among consumers. From outright fraud and false advertising to failure to disclose damage and false odometer readings, car dealers are often accused of all sorts of bad behavior. Being accused of bad business practices can cost you directly, in the form of a lawsuit, as well as hurt your reputation. Fortunately for you, consumer issues are a major concern for auto dealers and one of the key focus areas for our practice at Arenson Law Group, PC. We have a deep understanding of consumer law and will mount a vigorous defense on your behalf.

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Talk to an Auto Dealer Lawyer based in Iowa

The lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC are ready to work for you. We want to ensure that your business is not facing legal hurdles that could easily be prevented or taken care of. Your focus is your business, not the law. Time and time again, it has been proven that a lawyer can significantly increase your chance of a favorable outcome. Let us work to make sure you and your business are protected.

If you currently own an auto dealership in Iowa, Wisconsin, or Minnesota, or are considering opening one, the lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you with all your legal needs. Our head attorney, James Arenson, has personal experience with auto dealerships, and associate John Hofmeyer can assist you if you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Call (319) 363-8199 to discuss your needs with us and get the support you need.

Auto Dealer Law Articles

  • Alteration of a Dealer’s Market Area (“Community”)
  • Auto Dealer Franchise Acquisitions
  • Encino Motor Cars
  • GM RSI
  • Salesperson Compensation – Is it time to review your pay plans?
  • Selling Out of Trust
  • Selling Part or All of Your Dealership
  • Selling Used Vehicles Without Warranty Worries
  • Understanding Iowa Auto Dealer Law


How long does a car dealership have to give you the title in Florida? ›

Tax, Tag and Title

A licensed dealer is required to apply for a tag and title within 30 days, during which the buyer will be issued a temporary paper tag.

Can I sue a dealership for not giving me a title in Florida? ›

You Can Sue the Dealer For Not Giving You the Title

Consumers can file a complaint with the MVA when the dealer will not provide the title.

How do I file a complaint against a car dealership in Florida? ›

The Consumer Services Division Hotline is 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352). All other complaints against license Florida dealers should be filed with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at the regional office responsible for the dealership.

Does the Consumer Rights Act apply to used cars? ›

The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015 and covers the purchase of goods, digital content and services including new and used cars from official dealers (it doesn't apply to private sales) as well as servicing, repairs and maintenance work.

What happens if the car dealer makes a mistake? ›

If the car dealer made a quote mistake on the contract, here's what you should do: Ask for the change or addendum to the contract in writing. Have the dealer send a new contract that highlights the mistaken areas and gives a full explanation as to the reason for the changes.

Can I sue for yo yo financing? ›

Yo-Yo scams harm consumers and violate the law. Car dealers violate state and federal laws when they sell a car to a consumer and then try to change the deal or they make the consumer give the car back. Consumers victimized by this scam can sue the dealership for damages and attorney's fees.

Is Curbstoning illegal in Florida? ›

News in 2015

Curbstoning is when a vehicle is unlawfully displayed for sale, hire, or rent without the necessary licenses or permits. Curbstoners may sell cars on the side of the road, in business parking lots, or online.

What kind of lawyer do I need to sue a mechanic shop? ›

If a mechanic failed to ensure a vehicle was safe to drive, they should be held accountable for their negligence. If repair issues led to an accident, you need a good car accident lawyer.

Who regulates car dealerships in the state of Florida? ›

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) Bureau of Dealer Services issues and renews licenses for more than 15,0000 motor vehicle, auction, salvage, wholesale, mobile home, recreational vehicle dealers and manufacturers, distributors and importers each year.

What agency regulates car dealerships in Florida? ›

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles licenses and regulates new and used Dealers, wholesales and manufactuers in the state and has a list of searchable active licensees available to the public on their website.

What legal action can be taken against the dealer? ›

Answers (2) Dear Client, You can file a complaint against the dealer and the manufacturer , before the Consumer Forum of your area for deficiency of service and unfair trade practices. You can claim the deposited with nominal intrest and mental agony.

What are my rights after buying a car from a dealer? ›

You have a right to reject something faulty and you're entitled to a full refund within 30 days of purchase in most cases. After 30 days, you lose the short-term right to reject the goods. You'll also have fewer rights, such as only being able to ask for a repair or replacement, or a partial refund.

Who regulates the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading? ›

The Regulations are now monitored and enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority, in partnership with local Trading Standards Offices.

What is it called when a car dealer lied to you? ›

It is unlawful and is known as fraud or misrepresentation. You are protected under consumer law and can choose to file a lawsuit with the help of an auto fraud attorney.

What happens if you and the dealer bust? ›

If you bust, you lose your bet, and your part in the hand is over. If you stand or stick on a total, you must hope it is higher than the dealer's total to win. And if the dealer goes on to bust? If you are still in the hand, you win, no matter what your total is.

Can I back out of a car deal after signing? ›

If you've purchased a new or used car and have second thoughts about it, you usually won't be able to return the car. The dealer who sold you the car is typically not legally obligated to take the car back and issue you a refund or exchange after you've signed the sales contract.

Can you sue someone that you lending money to that won't give it back? ›

If you loaned someone money and they refuse to pay, it's only natural to think, “Can I sue someone who owes me money?” The answer is, yes, you can. That's why the small claims court exists. It is a specific type of court that hears cases between two parties without the need to have expensive, drawn-out lawsuits.

Can I sue a bank for denying my loan? ›

Under some circumstances, you can sue a bank for its refusal to provide a loan. For example, if a bank has denied you a loan for a discriminatory reason (because of your color, gender, race, religion, or national origin), you may be able to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Can a car dealer cancel a sale? ›

If you buy a car that is financed through the dealership, the dealer CAN cancel the contract, but only if it notifies you within 10 days of the date on the purchase contract. This type of financing is sometimes called a “spot delivery.” It is based on the language of the purchase contract.

Is selling over MSRP illegal in Florida? ›

It is legal for a car dealership or any other retailer to sell above MSRP. This is because the MSRP is the suggested sticker price for an item. It's basically the minimum price a retailer needs to sell the product at in order to make a profit. Dealerships are free to sell vehicles at whatever price they like.

What is title jumping in Florida? ›

Title jumping is the act of buying a vehicle and selling it without registering the vehicle in your name. The title “jumps” from one owner to the next, without any record.

How many cars can you flip a year in Florida? ›

According to Florida law, you can privately sell no more than three cars in a calendar year without a dealer license. Also note that, in Florida, you can't park vehicles in public right of ways or on public properties solely to sell that vehicle if you don't have permission from the property owner.

What are the best things to sue for? ›

Top 6 Reasons to Sue
  1. For Monetary Compensation. You can litigate against an entity who has committed some negligent action through which you suffer an injury. ...
  2. For Protecting Your Property. ...
  3. For Replacing a Trustee. ...
  4. For Getting a Divorce. ...
  5. For Enforcing the Terms of a Contract. ...
  6. For Discrimination and Harassment.

How long is reasonable for a car repair? ›

There are many factors to take into consideration as to how long it should take to get your car repaired, otherwise known as “cycle time.” Cycle time is usually measured from the day your car is dropped off at the repair facility until the day it is picked up. The current nationwide average for cycle time is 12 days.

Do repair shop clients have to pay? ›

Well, no-one does. The 'Repair Shop' is, in fact, a bit of a misnomer. Because the artefacts are all chosen for their sentimental value to the owners (and the BBC get a whole broadcast TV slot out of it), the Repair Shop and its experts do not charge people for its services.

Who holds car dealerships accountable? ›

Technically, the New Motor Vehicle Board in California is a part of the California Department of Motor Vehicles that has two major departments: One that attempts to resolve disputes between car manufacturers and dealerships, and one that attempts to resolve disputes between California consumers and dealerships or ...

What is dealer compliance? ›

What Is Automotive Compliance? Automotive compliance is an umbrella term for any and all laws and regulations in your area that your dealership is subject to. It includes laws in selling, buying, financing, insuring, and even things like customer communication and how to format your emails.

What is OFAC car dealership? ›

The Office of Foreign Asset Controls requires car dealers to check customer names against a database of known dangerous organizations and individuals.

Can I sue a dealership for not paying off my trade in Florida? ›

If they do not pay the trade off quickly, and force the customer to make another payments, the customer has legal rights and can sue. Whitney, LLP's attorney can help you sue the dealer at no cost to you.

Who governs the automotive industry? ›

Overview. The National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationExit Exit EPA website and EPA are the primary agencies that regulate the automotive industry.

Can I sue a car dealership for false advertising Florida? ›

In Florida, a victim of deceptive trade practices and the government authority in charge may file a lawsuit for false and deceptive advertising against the infringing party.

What are the dealer rules? ›

The Dealer's Play

When the dealer has served every player, the dealers face-down card is turned up. If the total is 17 or more, it must stand. If the total is 16 or under, they must take a card. The dealer must continue to take cards until the total is 17 or more, at which point the dealer must stand.

Do Lawyers come under Consumer Protection Act? ›

According to Section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, service under a contract of personal service is omitted from the meaning of the word service, and because the advocate-client relationship falls within this category, it is automatically excluded from the definition of service.

Do you deal to the right or left of the dealer? ›

Deal from the dealer's left to right (start with the player to your far left.) Deal one up card to each player, followed by a down card to the dealer.

What is the Consumer Rights Act and how does it affect my vehicle purchase? ›

The Consumer Rights Act stipulates that dealers will only get one chance to repair or replace the product, so dealers can't make multiple attempts to fix a problem unless otherwise agreed. If they fail to remedy the fault in one attempt or within a reasonable time period, you'll be entitled to a full or partial refund.

How many rights does a consumer have under the car? ›

The Consumer Protection Act passed in 1986 guarantees 8 rights to consumers. These include the Right to safety, Right to be informed, Right to choose, Right to consumer education, Right to be heard, Right to seek redressal, Right to basic needs, and the Right to healthy environment.

Does sold as seen still apply? ›

'Sold as seen' or 'trade sale' are not legally binding terms even when included on a sales invoice. If buying from a dealer, it is advisable to ignore this type of statement where the trader is attempting to remove their liability should something be wrong with the car.

What are examples of unfair trade practices? ›

Some examples of unfair trade methods are: the false representation of a good or service; false free gift or prize offers; non-compliance with manufacturing standards; false advertising; or deceptive pricing.

What are the four major categories of unfair trade practices? ›

What Are the Types of Unfair Trade Practices?
  • Misrepresentation.
  • False advertising.
  • Selling tactics.
  • Deceptive trade practices.
20 Apr 2022

What comes under unfair trade practices? ›

Unfair business practices include misrepresentation, false advertising or representation of a good or service, tied selling, false free prize or gift offers, deceptive pricing, and noncompliance with manufacturing standards.

How long does it take to get a new car title in Florida? ›

Applying for Duplicate Certificates

The application will be processed and the duplicate title mailed within five working days from receipt of the application. For those counties issuing expedited duplicates and FLHSMV offices, a fee of $11 is assessed.

How long does it take to receive title in Florida? ›

Paper titles are generally received within 7 – 10 business days. Please note: titles may not be printed at home or picked up in an service center after this request has been made.

How long does it take to get title after paying off car in Florida? ›

Generally, it takes two to six weeks, but it will depend on your state's processes.

How do I get the title to my car in Florida? ›

In Florida, to obtain a certificate of title you must, at minimum, have the following:
  1. Proof of identity.
  2. Proof of ownership.
  3. Proof of required insurance coverage. ...
  4. Complete an Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration (HSMV form 82040).
  5. Pay applicable sales tax and title and registration fees.

Can you sell a car without a title? ›

Yes, you can sell a car without a title if you have proof of ownership. Selling a car without proof of ownership is illegal in most states. That said, it's not uncommon to discover that you don't have your car's title in your possession.

Does Florida issue paper car titles? ›

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) maintains titles in one of two status: paper or electronic. An electronic title is one that is held electronically. It cannot be lost or stolen becuase it does not exist in paper form.

Do I need a bill of sale if I have the title in Florida? ›

In order to successfully complete a Florida title and title transfer form, you need to make sure all the required forms are filled out completely. You need to create a bill of sale that discloses information about the vehicle, such as the make, year, model, and color of the vehicle.

How old does a car have to be to not have a title in Florida? ›

Vehicle must be 30 years of age or older. No title record may exist in any state. Seller must NOT reside in Florida.

How do I remove a lien from a car title in Florida? ›

Car lien removal in Florida

To remove a lien from your vehicle in Florida, you have to complete your payments. Then the lien holder, whether is an institution like Southeast Toyota Finance or a credit union, will notify electronically notify the Florida DMV that the lien on your vehicle has been released.

Do both parties need to be present to transfer a title in FL? ›

If the title is held electronically, the seller and buyer must visit a motor vehicle service center to complete a secure title reassignment (HSMV 82994 or 82092) and disclose the odometer reading. The buyer and seller must both be present and provide photo identification.

Does it matter whose name is first on a car loan? ›

It doesn't matter whose name should come first on a car loan; it's merely a formality. The only thing that truly matters is that both you and your wife can successfully apply for the loan.

What is lien release on a vehicle? ›

When you borrow money to purchase a car, the lender files a lien on the vehicle with the state to insure that if the loan defaults, the lender can take the car. When the debt is fully repaid, a release of the lien is provided by the lender.

How do I register a car without a title in Florida? ›

How Do You Register A Classic Car in Florida Without a Title?
  1. Go To The Florida Go-Renew Portal.
  2. Fill Out Form HSMV 82101 For A Duplicate Title.
  3. Visit Local DHSMV Office.
  4. Apply For New Registration.
29 Jul 2022

Can I use a bill of sale to get a title in Florida? ›

You can get a vehicle title from the State of Florida with a copy of the bill of sale. While it's much easier to go to the DMV with a copy of the original title signed over by the seller, you can use your bill of sale to register the vehicle in your name and have the title transferred over.

How do you get around without a title? ›

If you purchased a vehicle without a title, you may need to get a surety bond or bonded title when you register it with your state. Some states may also offer a temporary registration that converts into a full-ownership registration after several years, assuming no one claims the vehicle as rightfully theirs.

Who Holds car title in Florida? ›

Usually, the car's owner — or someone with a financial stake in the vehicle — is the titleholder. Keep in mind, though, that even though you drive a car doesn't necessarily mean you own it.


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