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Could I sue a car dealer?

Miami, FL |

I purchased a used 2011 Nissian Altima and used my 2006 Nissian Altima as a trade-in (whic has a balance of $4,500.00). I drove off the lot and the check engine light came on. I called the car dealer and I was told the car was pressure washed; which caused the light to come on. I went to the dealership told them I no longer wanted th car and I wanted my trade-in back; do to the engine problems that I wa never made aware of. I was told they sold my car. I am still currently pay monthly for my trade-in, and I was never given financing document to pay the 2011 Altima off. Do I have a valid case?

Attorney Answers 3


You certainly should have been given a copy of the finance contract for the vehicle you bought, along with all other sales documents, but there is no 3 day right to cancel a sale in general unless someone comes to your front door and sells something to you or in certain real estate mortgage transactions. Most car dealers will routinely tell a customer who returns, asking to cancel a sale, that their trade in vehicle was already sold or sent to the auction, etc, because they don't want to take back the car they just sold you (it's called unwinding the deal in the business). There's an old saying in the business, "once it goes over the curb it don't come back" is the way a car dealer said it to me in a case once. Of course, that has nothing to do with the law or what your legal rights may be - it's just their attitude. Whether or not you have a valid case in your situation is hard to tell from these facts. Your used 2011 Nissan Altima is likely still covered by the original factory warranty and that should fix the engine issue without cost to you. Your complaint is about problems with the vehicle that you think the dealer should take care of for you. The real question is whether or not the dealer is actually required to do that because if not, then there may be nothing you can do to make them do it or to pay for it. If the dealer is not required to do anything for you, then you may be stuck. But don’t take the dealer’s word on it. In a used car sale, your legal rights are mostly determined by the paperwork that you sign. Look to see if anything was written down about any kind of warranty or guarantee or right to cancel the deal. If so, then that may be binding on both you and the dealer. When you bought it can matter too. If you bought it very recently, then you may have more legal rights (again, depending on your paperwork and what representations were made to you when you bought it). But that’s still not the end of it. There’s also a federal law that requires all car dealers to post on the window of all used cars they are selling a special “Buyer Guide” form (it’s often called a Used Car Window Sticker) that discloses whether or not a warranty comes with the car. Many small lot car dealers don’t comply with the law. If they don’t, then you may end up with a warranty after all and you may even have the right to cancel the sale. The back side of the form has to be completely filled out and many car lots, big and small, fail to do that too and that can also trigger your right to cancel the deal. You can see what the Buyer Guide form looks like on this web site page: . The only way to know for sure what your legal rights are is for you to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case (it's called "autofraud" or car sales fraud). 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 ( 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, 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” below. Thanks for asking and good luck. Ron Burdge,,

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Click the link to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.

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Your facts do not provide a timeline, so I'm not sure how long you waited to go back to complain. While the sale of the car itself may or maynot be subject to the 72-hour right to recission, the financing agreement should be subject to the 72-hour right of recission. The fact that they did not give you the financing paperwork and sold a car with a loan still attached is an issue that you can address. Most car manufacturers and car loan financing companies provide for arbitration to settle the disputes. The dealership most likely engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices

Contact the manufacturer, but also file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and the Office of the State Attorney General. Check your county bar association to ask for a referral for an experienced contract attorney. Also, if you have a local law school check if this is the type of case their legal clinic will handle.

My last piece of advice is to get creative. I once bought a lemon and the dealership gave me grief even with the vehicle being under warranty. I finally got them take it back and refund my money when I found the home address for the CEO of General Motors, wrote him a 8-page letter and then handed out his home address to everyone in the dealership every time my car was there for repairs.

Good luck!

This communication is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. It is always recommended you consult an attorney in person to discuss your case. The Law Offices of Stage & Associates practices state-wide and represents homeowners and community associations. Please visit our website at

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You can go after the dealership, and as the others have said, act soon! Good luck with the situation

Please do not take my answer to be legal advice that would establish any attorney-client relationship. Please take it as a general response from my own experience in response to your question. I hope you find it helpful.

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