Can i sue a car dealership for selling me a salvage car with a clean title?

Asked over 2 years ago - El Paso, TX

I just recently bought a 2001 mustang GT and the title says its clean, but has a bent frame. This would make the car salvage due to it being unsafe. In addition, they did an inspection on the vehicle before i picked it up and somehow it passed. Could i sue this dealership?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Ronald Lee Burdge

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You probably can. What legal claims you may have woul depend on your sales paperwork, what representations the dealer made to induce you to purchase the car, and whether or not the delaer hid anything from you, among other things. Wrecked and repaired cars can be dangerous because you don't know the quality of the repair job or the repairman. Car dealers generally have a higher disclosure obligation than an ordinary consumer would have selling the car. If the dealer knows something and realizes that the buyer would want to know about it, but doesn't disclose it, the dealer may be committing fraud by concealment. Every state has its own definition of fraud, but generally it's a lie or something kept hidden that costs you money. There is a big difference in value between a car that has never been wrecked and one that has, even when the repairs are done right. It's called "diminished value" and it means your car is worth much less than one that was not wrecked and repaired. You probably have the right to either cancel the deal or recover the amount you were overcharged for the car. If you want to know what your car is really worth, take it to a car dealer and see how much they will give you for it after you tell them that the CarFax for it says it was wrecked and it may have frame damage. Many car dealers won't want to buy it at all. Once you have already spent your money, it's not too late to have an independent repair shop inspect it and tell you what they think, but the best time is before you put down your hard earned money. Still, there is more than one way to get rid of a wrecked car (or a bad car) or to get even when you’ve been ripped off. First look at your paperwork and see if anything was written down about any kind of guarantee or warranty. In a used car deal, most of your legal rights are dependant on the paperwork you sign. However used car dealers are required to post a Buyer Guide form on the window of every car and many dealers don’t comply with the law. That sticker can also give you more rights. Also, if the lie to you, that can be fraud. To know what all this means in your particular case though you should talk to a local Consumer Law lawyer about your state laws and what your rights are, right away. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/ocll-site/ocll-loca...) and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, NACA.net). But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give it a “vote up” rating below. Ron Burdge, Attorney, www.SalvageTitle.info, www.burdgelaw.com

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  2. Scott Richard Kaufman

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . TX, I'm told has a decent consumer fraud act, as the GOP has not yet gotten around to gutting it in favor of businesses. Contact local counsel right away to enforce your rights before they disappear.

    Find someone qualified here:

    http://www.naca.net

  3. Brian W. Erikson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Even if you purchased the vehicle "as is," the seller still has to disclose known defects, and can be liable for fraud or misrepresentation as to the vehicle's condition.

    You may have purchased a "lemon." For more about the Texas lemon law, you can review the following web site from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles:

    http://www.txdmv.gov/protection/lemon_law.htm

    0r
    http://www.carlemon.com/lemon/TX_LemonGuide.html

    How do you know that the car has a bent frame? Does the car suffer from tracking problems or have some other problem indicative of a bent frame?

    If the dealer knew or should have known about the bent frame, and is refuses to take back the car or to repair the vehicle, you may have an out and out fraud or misrepresentation case. You may also have a deceptive trade practice claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act, Texas Business & Commerce Code sections 17.41, et seq. ("DTPA").

    I suggest that you consider writing a letter to the dealer to demand that the dealer take the vehicle back and rescind (rip up) the sale. The letter should go by certified mail, set out your side of the story, and demand that the dealer resolve this matter. If you have a DTPA claim, you would have to notify the dealer of the claim. Proper notice under the DTPA generally requires help from an attorney.

    If the amount you paid for the vehicle is less than $10,000, you can sue in small claims court. If you financed the purchase with the dealer (the dealer is the lender), you may be able to dispute liability for further payments, or pay the money into the court's registry to avoid being in default. If the lender is a third party, and you don't make payments, the lender can declare you in default, and report a negative credit history to the credit reporting agencies. So, you may consider making the payments under protest while the matter with the dealer is being sorted out.

    The dealer may have posted a motor vehicle dealer's bond against which you can make a claim. For more information on motor vehicle bonds, you can review the following web site:

    http://www.jwsuretybonds.com/surety-bonds/comme...

    The Texas Attorney General may have an open investigation for the dealer. To make a complaint against the dealer with the Attorney General, you can visit the Texas Attorney General complaints web address:

    https://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/complain.s...

    Good luck.

    Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below and/or designate my answer as the best answer. Thanks.

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