By on June 10, 2019

Wells Fargo will reportedly pay customers a minimum of $386 million to settle class-action claims that the bank covertly signed customers up for auto insurance they did not want or need.

Back in the summer of 2017, the bank found itself implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuses. Over a year later, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to settle U.S. investigations into the company’s insurance and mortgage practices.

While the auto insurance plan ended in 2016, roughly 800,000 customers (or 600k by Wells Fargo’s estimates) were believed to be affected by the auto insurance issue over roughly a four-year period. For most, that meant being overcharged for insurance they didn’t need., but some customers ended up with their vehicles repossessed and their credit rating demolished, promoting the class-action suit.  Read More >

By on May 6, 2019

Last week, San Jose became subject to borderline draconian street-racing laws after city council (unanimously) voted to pass legislation effectively making it illegal to even watch impromptu automotive exhibitions. However, “spectating” is loosely defined in the new law, as parties don’t have to know a race is going on to get into trouble.

Even milling around a car show before shenanigans break out is enough to earn someone a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

The new laws give police plenty of power to break up late-night car events, plus the ability  to arrest whomever they want — creating a pretty good incentive to just stay home, rather than risk getting into trouble. It also feels like overkill, and it sets an ugly precedent for punishing Californians who aren’t actively contributing to a crime.  Read More >

By on January 9, 2019

On January 6th, local law enforcement reported that four kids enjoyed a night of destructive mayhem at a Houston-area CarMax dealership located in the 16100 block of the North Freeway. According to local reports, police were responding to a call where four young males were caught on video surveillance breaking into multiple vehicles. However, things got really interesting after officials learned the cars weren’t being stolen, but rather used to intentionally mangle other vehicles on the lot just for the thrill.

Police claim approximately $800,000 in damages after the group managed to intentionally wreck nearly two dozen automobiles. While none of the suspects’ names have been released, it’s probably safe to assume rowdy teens — mankind’s greatest foe — are to blame.  Read More >

By on October 17, 2018

Airbag crime is on the rise around the country, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and a recent report from USA Today. However, the latter of the two sources claims the issue is exponentially worse for Honda owners and nobody has any idea why.

“There’s no way for us to really know because owners don’t report to us when parts have been stolen,” Honda spokesman Chris Martin told the news outlet. “But we are certainly not unaware of the fact that Hondas have been a target of parts theft for many years simply based on the popularity of models in this market.” Read More >

By on September 24, 2018

2016_Toyota_Prius_v, Image: Toyota

A Washington State Patrol trooper was confronted with occupational difficulties earlier this month while attempting to pull over a woman driving a Toyota Prius with expired tags. The woman, 42-year old Jamie Petrozzi, was headed southbound on I-5 through Marysville two Wednesdays ago when the trooper turned on his lights and attempted a traffic stop.

The driver made no attempt to stop on the highway and, instead, exited a mile later before finally stopping at an intersection. From here, the highway patrolman ordered her to pull over using his loudspeaker. Petrozzi declined to cooperate, forcing the trooper to approach the side of the car and instruct her to pull off the road. “I will not,” she said, according to the arrest report. “I drive a Prius. I am not pulling over there.”  Read More >

By on August 28, 2018

On Monday, former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison for tax evasion and his key role in the corporate conspiracy to win favorable treatment from the UAW. Apparently, his plea agreement didn’t help him avoid jail time, but it was enough to shave a few years off his sentence.

Iacobelli pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to violate the Labor Management Relations Act and for subscribing a false tax return in January. At the time, he was facing a maximum sentence that included eight years in prison. However, his $835,000 tax-restitution case is yet to be resolved and will be decided upon at a future date. Iacobelli will continue assisting with the investigation in the interim and, likely, beyond.  Read More >

By on May 8, 2018

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen’s new chief executive officer, Herbert Diess, is believed to have met with the United States’ Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation last week to discuss the manufacturer’s emissions scandal. Details on the matter are scare at present, but the meeting would explain why the U.S. was willing to provide the CEO with a safe-passage guarantee.

While VW has previously stated its cooperation in various investigations, it declined to comment on Diess’ alleged visit to federal authorities. Read More >

By on March 31, 2018

passing lane left lane fast lane

Back in November, Oklahoma passed a law making it extra illegal to use the left lane on all divided highways for any purpose other than passing. This law is already in effect throughout most of the U.S., but enforcement is tricky and highly dependent on traffic flow. Plenty of overtaking occurs above the posted limit, meaning drivers maintaining that speed often feel justified in staying in the left-most lane.

To clarify, Oklahoma already had a law forbidding motorists from hogging lanes on multi-lane highways. The November edict simply tacked on a fine (typically around $230) and a notice from the highway patrol that it wouldn’t tolerate the behavior anymore. “Basically, in simplest terms is, if you’re not passing a vehicle or overtaking a vehicle and you’re in the left lane, you’re in the wrong lane to drive,” State Trooper Clayton Fredrickson explained last year.  Read More >

By on February 8, 2018

dallas squad car hammered

Earlier this week a man wielding a sledgehammer walked into the Dallas Police Department’s motorpool and started swinging. The city’s Police Association claims the man wailed on 12 cars at the Central Division station on South Hall Street in Deep Ellum at roughly 5:20 in the morning on February 4th.

The man, 58-year-old Gregory Simpson, apparently entered the police station parking lot through an unsecured gate and started hitting the first police car in sight. By the time he was stopped, he’d caused an estimated $4,900 in damage. Had he not focused primarily on windshields, that figure probably could have come up a bit. But, as breaking glass is one of life’s simple pleasures, his focus was understandable. Why he chose to vent his frustrations on parked squad cars is not, however. Read More >

By on January 24, 2018

lotus evora gt430

Most of us have been caught speeding at one time or another. As enthusiasts, it’s often difficult not to try and squeeze out every last ounce of joy from a fun-to-drive automobile when the path ahead is open. While we may think of corporate executives as soulless monsters, singularly focused on satisfying shareholders and lining their pockets, some of them are also people who enjoy driving cars.

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales is definitely such a man, and his love of driving ended up getting him into trouble when he was nailed for traveling 102 mph in a 70 mph zone on England’s A11 expressway. While the offense occurred roughly a year ago, his court date was yesterday. With eight points already on his license (most of which also came from speeding violations), things looked bleak for Gales, at least until his lawyer managed the most brilliant defense in traffic court history — claiming that it was vital the CEO not lose the ability to test drive new models.

It worked.  Read More >

By on January 23, 2018

Uaw-Logos

Former Fiat Chrysler labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty to two of seven charges relating to his role in a plan to divert more than $4.5 million in training center funds to union and company officials on Monday. As part of a plea deal with federal authorities, Iacobelli provided information regarding confidential retirement offers and a former union vice president being groomed to support company initiatives.

In an admission that he and other FCA employees paid various senior UAW officials over $1.5 million in an effort to “obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration,” Iacobelli is now helping map the deepening mire that is the FCA-UAW training center scandal. Read More >

By on December 12, 2017

car crime theft

Florida lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would make it illegal to have your car stolen if you haven’t bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. While accidentally prepping a car for prospective thieves is easily one of the dumbest things you can do, making it illegal to leave it running while you pop in to buy a pack of gum sets us up for a nice slippery slope argument.

Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Read More >

By on November 26, 2017

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

A quartet of suspected baddies were arrested on Friday after being caught with four vehicles believed to be stolen from a Tesla dealership in Salt Lake City. While an automotive theft ring isn’t anything special, the way in which this particular incident unfolded is beyond strange.

According to South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller, the incident began around 1 a.m. when a Highway Patrol trooper conducting a traffic stop near the dealership noticed a sparkly new Tesla vehicle stop behind his squad car. Smelling something fishy, the patrol trooper assumed the driver wasn’t the owner of the car and called for local backup as he conducted another stop.

Keller said the man had a bag of keys on his person and told police he had come to return the vehicle to the dealership. “I don’t know if he had a guilt complex or whatever, but he claimed his name was Tesla and once [police] started talking to him, he didn’t want to talk to police; he wanted an attorney,” Keller explained. Read More >

By on September 13, 2017

Pontiac Silverdome in 2006

Dozens of recalled Volkswagen diesels have vanished from the Silverdome parking lot in Pontiac, Michigan, over past last week. The stadium was once home to the Detroit Lions and monster truck rallies. Now defunct, it has been converted into a makeshift purgatory for thousands of emission-cheating VW and Audi-branded autos waiting to be fixed and resold.

Michigan authorities are working with out-of-state police to track down over 60 stolen vehicles. Roughly a dozen of the missing cars were located at an auction lot in Clarksville, Indiana, last Friday. Those recovered units have laid the groundwork for how the police are handling the investigation.  Read More >

By on September 12, 2017

irmatireiron

We live in polarized times, when acknowledging the existence of one group of evil people is considered to be a defense of a second group of evil people that the first group of bad actors consider their enemies. Some folks have trouble holding the concept that it is possible to despise both sides of a controversy, without having to identify with this or that tribe. I dislike having to use caveats in my writing but let me say at the outset that I think that people and businesses should not unduly take advantage of situations during natural disasters and other catastrophes.

We’ve seen a lot of inspirational stories out of Texas and Florida in the literal wake of two mammoth storms. We’ve also seen some price gouging and looting. Catastrophes bring out the worst and best in both those that are directly affected, and in those who observe from afar.

A couple of Florida car dealers, in Hollywood and further north in Tallahassee, decided to shelter their inventories from Hurricane Irma in public parking structures made available to residents trying to keep their personal vehicles above flood waters (and somewhat protected from flying debris). The dealers may have protected their vehicles from Irma, but that didn’t protect them from a storm of bad publicity. Every car those dealers parked in those structures meant someone’s daily driver couldn’t be saved from the maelstrom. Read More >

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