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Can you sue a used car dealership for lying to you about an exisiting problem with the car?

Kalamazoo, MI |

When I purchased my used car approx 2 years ago I noticed that something damp was on the passenger side floorboard. I asked them what it was and was told that it was nothing...just the adhesive from the plastic they put down after detailing. Come to find out there was an extreme coolant leak coming from the pipe running to the heater core. This leak was very bad, to the point of having a standing puddle of coolant on the floorboard every other week or so unless removed. My father and I have since fixed the leak for the most part...but I feel like it was a blatant lie by the dealer to tell me one thing when they had to have known that it was more than the adhesive off the plastic floor mat.

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Filed under: Used cars
Attorney answers 2


I envision a number of problems with your making a claim against the dealership, at this point. 1) if you bought the car two years ago, why wait to make the claim? 2) you will probably have to prove that they KNEW about the problem. They may have sold the vehicle to you with a limited warranty or "as is." Typically, they have no other obligations to you. If they KNEW there was a problem and fraudulently mis-respresented the situation to you, then there may be some basis for a claim, but you would still have the burden of proof. What are the damages, besides the aggravation and any money you spent making the repair?

The dealer's defense is likely to be..."it was not our car. We had no way of knowing there was a problem. We go through a rigorous X point inspection of all vehicles, but there is no way we can spot any and all potential defects. That is why we sell our cars with a 30 day 3,000 mile warranty. (Or) That is why we sell our vehicles as is."

I think you would have a tough time with this claim.

James Frederick


Can you sue? Yes. Is it smart to sue here? Probably not. Most states have a legal principle called "laches" which basically means that you knew or should have known that you had a legal claim but "sat" on your rights too long. Here, if you knew there was a problem, you should have done something about it right away. But the law on "laches" is different in different states so you should talk to a consumer law lawyer near you right away, before your rights expire. You need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case. 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 check the box below.