No but you may not be totally stuck. The rules can be different in an “internet” used car sale when you buy from a private person. In most states, your legal rights in a used car sale are mostly determined by the paperwork that you sign. In an internet sale, that may be nothing more than what appears on the web site or the internet ad and it may never really get “signed” at all. There’s a federal law that now basically says that your agreement to the terms of a legal and binding contract can be made electronically, such as with an email or checking a box on a web site. The ad itself can, however, amount to a warranty if it makes specific representations about the vehicle, so be sure you keep a copy of it printed off. Print off all your emails too, since those may be part of whatever contract occurs when things are said in them about the vehicle, terms, etc. Also, just because the seller says or seems to be a private individual, don’t be so sure. Lots of people are living off internet car sales and every state says that when a person sells a minimum number of vehicles in a 12 month time then legally they are considered a car dealer - in some states as few as 6 in a year. That can make your sale entirely different since your legal rights when you buy from a car dealer are entirely different - you get many, many more rights. Check around on the website and see if they have other cars they have listed or sold or if they have a rating by buyers - a clear indication they are in the business and not just some guy getting rid of his old car. If you do buy from a private person, then in most states about the only thing they have to disclose to the buyer is the mileage on the vehicle and to answer your questions honestly and not hide anything that they know you would want to know about. An oral contract is still a contract and an internet ad is still a promise and a lie that hurts you (money-wise) is still fraud. And you can file a claim against them over any of those. The problem is, of course, finding them and serving papers on them. That can be extremely tough. That’s why buying a car over the internet is extremely risky. You may be able to see where you went wrong if you read this Avvo.com guide on “How to Avoid Buying a Lemon Used Car in 7 Steps”: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/how-to-avoid-buying--lemon-used-car-in-7-steps. Avvo also has a Legal Guide on how to avoid online car sales ripofff's here: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&permalink=10-rules-to-avoid-online-car-sales--auction-ripoffs. If you got a bad car, the first thing to do is complain to the seller and try to get them to help you out. Try to shmooze (that’s a legal term for negotiate) them into helping you out. If nothing works, then it’s time to get to a lawyer right away because you probably have more legal rights than you think you do. 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). 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 (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 probably have more legal rights than you think - and certainly more than the car dealer will admit you have. If this answer was helpful, please give it a “Vote Up” below. Ron Burdge, www.CarSalesFraud.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.
Contact Arthur Obolsky in Berkeley. He handles lemon cases which this probably is not. However, he also handles fraud cases in sales transactions. His number can be found on the internet or on this site.
Excellent analysis by Mr. Burdge. Sorry this happened to you. If you find out what made it die and whether some false representation was made related to the death of the vehicle, you may have something. Otherwise, hopefully you did not spend too much on it and in the future, do make sure to have any vehicle inspected by a professional prior to making the purchase.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline