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Used car - rebuilt engine - not

Columbia, MO |

Hello, I bought a used car for $4700. The ad said the engine had been completely rebuilt 1600 mile ago. On the way home the engine light came on. Mechanic told me the engine has not been rebuit, head gaskets replaced at the best. It will now cost me 2K to fix. Do I have a chance in small claims court. I have documents where the guy has put down in print that the engine was completely rebuilt but I also signed a bill of sale.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

Do you have a chance? Yes, probably a pretty good chance. Here's some general advice for you. A warranty can include a representation or promise from the seller, oral or written, in most states. In a used car sale where the vehicle is sold with a warranty when you buy it, when things go wrong with the car then your obligation is to give the seller a reasonable chance to fix what is wrong and the seller’s obligation is to get it fixed (or pay for the repair) within a reasonable number of chances and within a reasonable amount of time. If the seller doesn’t, then you can deem that to be a breach of the warranty. If the seller breaches the warranty then you a right to elect a remedy. Generally you can chose between recovering damages (and keeping the car) or cancelling the sale (what lawyers call “rescission”), but to cancel the sale in most states the car has to be in substantially the same condition as it was when you first got it. Some of this may depend on where your warranty comes from too. Generally it will come from an oral representation, a description of the goods, an actual warranty document or the Used Car Window Sticker form. A handful of states have used car lemon laws, too (HI, MASS, Minn, NJ, NY, RI). But don’t take the seller’s word for what your warranty covers. Look to see if anything was written down anywhere about what the warranty covered for sure. 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 whether or not a warranty comes with the car. You can see what the Buyer Guide form looks like by clicking on the link below. If you have any kind of warranty rights against the seller, then the next question is whether or not your problem is covered by your warranty. If it is, then they have to fix it. But you could easily have warranty rights and not even know it. Also, every state has a “Udap” law although each one is a little different too. These laws are intended to make it illegal for a merchant or business to do anything that is unfair or deceptive or unconscionable to a consumer in a consumer transaction. That law might help you too. And if the seller (or the selling dealer) fails to fix your problem within a reasonable amount of time or a reasonable number of chances to fix it, then that is a breach of the warranty law in every state. Generally you would then have the right to get it fixed somewhere else and sue the seller. If the amount is smaller, you may be able to use your local small claims court yourself. This can all be confusing and the law can be different in different states so your best bet is to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case (it's called "autofraud" or car sales fraud) and show them your sales papers. 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-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). You can also look for one here 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. 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 a “Vote Up” review below. And be sure to indicate the best answer to your question so we can all be sure we are being helpful. Thanks for asking and Good Luck. Ron Burdge, www.CarSalesFraud.com

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your state may differ and your best answer will always come from a local attorney that you meet with privately. If you need a Consumer Law attorney, click the link above to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.

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6 comments

Asker

Posted

I should have stated that I bought from a private person. Does this change the situation? Thanks

Ronald Lee Burdge

Ronald Lee Burdge

Posted

Lies by a private seller are just as bad as lies by a car dealer. Your documents will be important to prove your case. If they won't pay for the repairs or refund your money, consider filing a claim in court. It would be wise to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney so you can find out your rights for sure and how to use your local court system yourself too

Asker

Posted

thanks for the advice. I called the person and explained to him the situation. I told him I did not want to take him to small claims court but I would unless he helped pay for half of the repairs. He took some time to think about it but has agreed to pay for half the cost of the repair. Thanks for the advice. I've learned a lesson too :)

Ronald Lee Burdge

Ronald Lee Burdge

Posted

It's nice to hear things get worked out on their own when reasonable people talk about their differences. Helping that happen is part of what we do too.

Luke Evan Wells

Luke Evan Wells

Posted

In Missouri, there is a statute called the Merchandising Practices Act. This statute prohibits the use of deception, fraud, false pretenses, false promises, misrepresentations, unfair practices, or concealment concerning any material fact in connection with the sale of merchandise. It sounds like your situation is the very type of transaction which the Merchandising Practices Act was designed to punish. Keep in mind that the most money you can recover in Small claims court is $5,000. Also, under the merchandising practices act, a victim of a fraudulent practice can sometimes receive an award of punitive damages.

Ronald Lee Burdge

Ronald Lee Burdge

Posted

Luke makes a great point about using your small claims court yourself - think about that

Posted

Perhaps the threat of bringing this person to court and getting a judgment against him will help you to settle it first? Otherwise, as Ronald Burdge states, gather up all of your documents and take him to court. Such a lie should be exposed for the fraud that it is and you should be entitled to your money back. The sad thing for this liar is that he will be stuck with a money judgment on his record for a long time...

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