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I bought a used car from a private party. The seller never disclosed that the car was in real bad condition. Do I have case?

Antioch, CA |

I purchased the car (Honda Accord 1995) 9 days ago. Before the seller gave me the cars registration and VIN number or smog certification, the seller asked me to sign a letter.. stating there was no refund. He was selling the car for $3,000. We came to an agreement where I would pay him installments of $600. The seller never told me how bad the car was. I took the car to a mechanic at Big Tires. I was told the car is undrivable and is in bad condition- its salvage. The smog certification states that the seller did a smog check in 2009. But has not done a smog check recently. I want my money back, I gave him $600 as the first installment. He will not return my money. I feel he chipped me and never informed me what was really going on with car.. Can you please help..

Attorney Answers 2


  1. A seller may not sell a car in CA without having the car pass smog UNLESS it is sold as "non op." If this is not the case the deal must get unwound and if seller refuses to do so you can sue seller effectively.


  2. Contrary to popular belief, a Judge in Small Claims can return the parties to their original condition, i.e. you get the $600, he gets the car. Clearly there was fraud or fraudulent intent. A=Oh, yeah, also as mentioned here, it is illegal to selll a car that has not been smogged PRIOR to sale.

    An unwinding of the sale is doable and can be done in Small Claims. I would sue in Small Claims for the value of the contract and request that the judge either award $3000 OR order the parties returned to their original condition and that it be done by a date certain.

    If you have further questions, be sure to speak with a lawyer that knows about Small Claims.

    -Adam Jaffe Law Office of Adam Jay Jaffe PO Box 2437 Camarillo, CA 93011-2437 (805) 504-2223 www.smallclaimsappeals.com Adam@SmallClaimsAppeals.com This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice". Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different states.

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