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Can I sue a car dealership for intentionally not disclosing damage to a vehicle?

Charlotte, NC |

I was sold a vehicle that the dealer marketed as a clean Carfax car. Which it was. However they intentially did not disclose that the car was repaired for a collision 3 years ago
I only found out about the repairs because I found a receive in the owners manual. They replied they knew about it but don't have to disclose it.
What recourse do I have?

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Attorney answers 2


Depending on when you bought it, recent or not, in most states you could cancel the deal. Otherwise you could still get back at least part of the purchase price, for what you overpaid for the vehicle. 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 that is not required by law. CarFax has done a good job of advertising itself, but you need to know that it isn't always accurate. They get their information from insurance companies and car dealers and title departments and lots of other places so it seems to be about 80% accurate, more or less, in our law firm’s experience. That’s better than nothing, although other title history services are available on the internet. Still, the existence of an accident on the CarFax report seems to almost always be accurate in our experience. If the dealer ran a CarFax (and the CarFax company keeps track of who runs their reports too), then it can be on notice of any accident record and all else on the report. If your report shows an accident (or any other negative info) before the dealer bought the car, then the dealer's report probably did too. Car dealers generally have a higher disclosure obligation than an ordinary consumer would have selling the car. 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. You probably have the right to either cancel the deal or recover the amount you were overcharged for the car. If you want to know what your car is really worth, take it to a car dealer and see how much they will give you for it after you tell them that the CarFax for it says it was wrecked and it may have frame damage. Many car dealers won't want to buy it at all. Before you decide to buy a used car next time, read this guide on How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Used Car in 7 Steps: 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 ( 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 me a thumbs up rating. Ron Burdge, Attorney,,


Mr. Burdge gives an excellent answer. In NC, if the vehicle has been in an accident where the damage exceeds 25% of the value of the vehicle, then it must be disclosed on the title transfer documents. If it was less than 25% of the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident, that may be the basis for their claim that they didnt have to disclose. Depending on the damage and whether the repair fixed the damage, you need to make an analysis as to whether it makes sense to hire a lawyer and try to sue the dealership. I suspect it will not be financially prudent to file suit if the damage was less than 25% of the vehicle. If that is the case, then you could always try one of the 'on your side' tv news teams to see if they would be interested in your story.

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