Can I sue a dealership for something not disclosed on a Carfax?

Asked over 3 years ago - Salt Lake City, UT

I just bought a car and everything checked out to be fine, a week later there is noise in the passenger wheel. I took it to a car mechanic and he tells me that strut is shot,and the car had been in a fender and is probably why the strut is shot. Can i sue the dealership for not disclosing that the car had been in an accident?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . A fraud claim requires them to have misrepresented a material fact that you reasonably relied on to your harm. You can probably only sue them successfully if you can prove that they knew this fact that wasn't in their CarFax, like if their maintenance records show work on this fender, or if they made representations to the contrary. They don't have a duty to tell you something they don't know, and they don't have a duty to speak, but once they do, what they say (or write) has to be accurate.

    Did you have your mechanic inspect the car and review the maintenance records BEFORE you decided to buy it? If not, in buying a used car, your reliance on what they told you or what they didn't may not be considered reasonable. Did you get a written warranty on this used car?

    Used car buyers have to expect their used cars to need repairs sooner or later, so it's hard to argue that this is any kind of surprise.

    Disclaimer: I'm only licensed in CA. Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Ronald Lee Burdge

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Maybe. Wrecked and repaired cars can be dangerous because you don't know the quality of the repair job or the repairman. Many car dealers will run a CarFax before they sell cars off their lot, although they are not required. CarFax has done a good job of advertising itself, but it isn't always accurate. If the accident was not on the carfax the dealer got, then the next question is whether or not the car dealer know or should have know about the damage or the coming strut failure anyway and just didn’t tell you about it. If so, that may be fraud. Car dealers generally have a higher disclosure obligation than an ordinary consumer would have selling the car. In most states, 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. If you act quickly, you may have the right to recover the amount you were overcharged for the damaged car. Also, in most states your legal rights over a used car are determined by the paperwork you sign in the sales process. Look to see if you received any written promises or warranties about the vehicle. Before you decide to buy a used car next time, read this Avvo.com guide on How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Used Car in 7 Steps: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/how-to-avo.... 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. 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 me a thumbs up rating. Ron Burdge, Attorney, www.CarSalesFraud.com, www.burdgelaw.com

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