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If I was sold an "as is" car, can I win a claim against a used car dealer under the lemon law?

Gary, IN |
Filed under: Lemon law

I bought a 1993 buick for $1600. when I bought it the dealer told me everything was good in the car. I registered and put insurance on the car; however, two days later the emergency brake light came on. when i went to the mechanic they said that not only did they have to disconnect the emergency brakes, but the transmission was going out and it was not safe to drive. they also told me that the frame underneath the car was so rusted that if they were to lift the car it would fall apart. I told the dealership about the problems but he said that it was as is and totally ignored me. can I sue to get my money back?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. There is a used car lemon law in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, but not in your state. So that means you have to look at your sales paperwork. If there is no warranty or guarantee there, then you look at the oral representations that were made and ask if you are the victim of fraud. There is a long technical definition for fraud in each state but basically it is a lie that costs you money. If your purchase was “as is” then that is what the dealer will argue to avoid doing anything for you. Practically speaking, “as is” isn’t always legally as is, even though every car dealer wants you to think so. In most states, your legal rights in a used car sale are mostly determined by the paperwork that you sign, what you were told by the dealer, and if the dealer hid anything serious about the vehicle from you. But even in an “as is” sale you might get some legal rights anyway, even if you thought you didn’t. And besides that, if the seller hid something from you that they knew and also knew you would want to know about before committing to the purchase, then that can be fraud - regardless of any “as is” sales attempt. Also, in some states an oral representation by the seller may over-ride a written disclaimer of warranties. Also there’s 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 your warranty rights. 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: http://ohiolemonlaw.com/used-car-lemon-law.html . 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. If less than a few thousand dollars is involved, you may want to go to Small Claims Court on your own instead of getting an attorney. To find out what your rights are in your state, you need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case (it's called "autofraud" or car sales fraud). You can look for one on Avvo under the Find a Lawyer tab. Or you can call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you. Even better, you can read a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (Click Here - http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/ocll-site/ocll-locate_local.shtml) 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. You might find this Avvo Legal Guide helpful on How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Used Car in the future: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/how-to-avoid-buying--lemon-used-car-in-7-steps. If this answer was helpful, please give it a “Vote Up” review below. Thanks for asking and Good Luck. Ron Burdge, www.CarSalesFraud.com, www.USLemonLawyers.com

    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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