I assume you bought the car with no warranty. That being the case, you bought the car in the condition it was in and took your chances with it. This is a "buyer beware" situation, and the car lot is not required to take the car back on a trade. The situation is different, though, if you can show that the car lot purposefully withheld information from you or the car lot did not reveal that the car was a "rebuild" (not a "recall") and didn't tell you. "Rebuild," by the way, is stamped on the title if it's true.
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If you return it, can they sue you for the balance owed? In every state the answer would be yes but with some limitations that are difficult to explain without more info from you. Can you do anything? That's different. If it is a factory recall, the a franchised dealer should do the work you need done. As for the rest of your problems, that depends. Practically speaking, “as is” isn’t always legally as is, even though every car dealer wants it customers to think so. Still, “As Is” can be a hard thing to get around in a used car sale. In most states, your legal rights in a used car sale are mostly determined by the paperwork that you sign, what was told to you 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 the dealer says you didn’t and 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 in every sale there is a “warranty of description of the goods” which means that if the sales contract describes the vehicle then the vehicle you get must match the description. 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 at the link below. 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 go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (www.USLemonLawyers.com) 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 please be sure to mark 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, www.USLemonLawyers.com
What does a Used Car Buyer Guide warranty form look like? Click Here and see
What is Fraud? Click Here to find out
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.
Many consumers ask if there is an automatic right to cancel a contract to purchase a car within three days. The general answer is there is no three day right to cancel the transaction but, as always, there are exceptions. I'll give you some general guidelines. Consumers can rescind a contract if it was induced by fraud and the parties can be returned to the status quo. Consumers can revoke acceptance of a car if he or she received non-conforming goods, e.g., the consumer buys a 6 cylinder and later learns it is a 4 cylinder. Consumers would need to revoke acceptance in a reasonable time. Consumers can rescind a transaction if the sale involves a retail installment sale contract and the buyer has not taken delivery of the vehicle. Consumers can sometimes cancel a contract as part of a remedy if there is a breach of warranty and suit is brought under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Consumers can cancel some deals if they have not received a copy of the retail installment sale contract and have not taken delivery of the vehicle. Section 520.07(c) of the Florida Statutes provides that "[u]ntil the seller has delivered or mailed to the buyer a copy of the retail installment contract, a buyer who has not received delivery of the motor vehicle shall have the right to rescind the agreement and to receive a refund of all payments made and return of all goods traded in to the seller on account of or in contemplation of the contract or, if such goods cannot be returned, the value thereof." Consumers probably can void a usurious contract under some circumstances or one that calls for finance charges in excess of Section 520.08, but that is rare. The age issue (i.e., the buyer being a minor) or some other lack of capacity oftentimes makes a contract void or voidable. There are certain protections for home solicitation sales. A consumer who entered into a contract to purchase goods or services worth more than $25 is usually allowed to cancel the contract up until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed if the act of signing took place at any place other than the seller's business location. For home improvements, a contract to repair, make a replacement to, remodel, alter, convert, modernize, improve, or add to any land or building used as a single-family dwelling or residence in which financing is involved, may be cancelled by certified or registered mail up until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed. Of course, consumers should always review their specific facts with an attorney to ensure that an exception to the above statements does not apply.
Steve Fahlgren is a Florida consumer protection attorney who practices statewide.
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