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Is it legal to sell a used car with an open recall on it in New Jersey?

Linden, NJ |

I checked the Carfax after purchasing a used vehicle and found that it has an open recall from 2008 that was never taken care of. Was it legal for the dealer to sell me this car and if not what can I do about it?

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Filed under: Fraud Lemon law Used cars
Attorney answers 2


Assuming he did not disclose such, you should first ask him to remedy such. If you are seeking for a return of the vehicle, you have to show the recall issue makes the vehicle unusable and you have given them chances to repair such.

Herbert Tan, Esq.

The National Newark Building
744 Broad Street, 16th Fl.
Newark, New Jersey 07102
(973) 735-2681 (W)
(973) 735-2682 (F)

Manhattan Office
305 Broadway, 14th Floor
New York, New York 10007
(888) TAN-LAWS


In most states it is legal for a car dealer to sell a used motor vehicle when there is an “open” recall on the vehicle. The only exception is if the recall is for a serious safety issue that can make the vehicle dangerous. In that circumstance, some states prohibit the sale of a vehicle in an unsafe condition. However, if you bought the vehicle from a franchised dealer (for instance, a used Ford bought from a Ford dealer) then they should have given it a basic safety inspection before selling it and that would include checking to see that all recalls were up to date on the vehicle. Your first step should be to contact the dealer and ask that they get the recall work done for you. Other than the recall issue, in a used car sale, your legal rights are mostly determined by the paperwork that you sign. Look to see if anything was written down about any kind of warranty or guarantee or right to cancel the deal. But that’s not the end of it. There’s also 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. 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 on this web site page: . 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 ( 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 it a thumbs up review. Thanks. Ron Burdge,

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