Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

5 Reasons to Sue a Used Car Dealer

If you buy a used car and are unhappy with it, you do have some legal recourse. But there are a few factors that will impact what exactly you can do, who to sue, and whether you would want to pursue legal action.

State laws vary, which means that warranties and dealer obligations will differ according to where you purchase your used car. The nature of the seller can matter, too, whether you're buying from a dealership or an individual. Specifics make a huge difference in any legal matter, so no claim can be assessed meaningfully without details. Still, let's take a look at general situations when suing a used car dealer might make sense.

5 Reasons to Sue

  1. Warranty Woes: If you bought a vehicle and it doesn't run and you end up spending a whole bunch of money on repairs, although the car was supposed to be under warranty, you may be able to successfully recover for expenses and more in a lawsuit. Specific claims will vary according to state law and, of course, the terms of your contract. If you actually bought the car "as is" and just missed this critical point while purchasing, you will not recover for a wished-for warranty. Be careful about the terms before you buy.
  2. Return Refused: You don't necessarily have a 3-day cooling off period, although that general perception exists among many consumers. However, if you have been guaranteed a "no questions asked" return or a 'cooling off" period or any other formulation that indicates you can change your mind, and the dealer refuses your return, this could be a good occasion to sue.
  3. Failure to Disclose: Your state laws, the contract you signed, and the nature of the dealer you purchased from will influence your ability to sue. But generally speaking, if a seller either deliberately misleads you in order to induce a purchase based on false promises, or fails to disclose a known defect, you may also have a good basis for a legal claim.
  4. Evidence of Fraud: Say you purchase a used car, drive it home, and soon discover that some things have been done to this vehicle to make it appear more attractive than it is. "Things" could include rolling back the odometer, or disguising frame damage, or anything else that gives the impression that the car is in a condition other than the one it is in. Without a lawsuit, you may not be able to get a refund.
  5. Breach of Contract: Although it is most likely that a lawsuit against a used car dealer will be based on a deliberately deceitful claim or a failure to reveal the true nature of the vehicle's state, there may be contractual bases for a claim as well. Your best bet is to meet with an attorney and find out what applies to your situation.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you bought a new or used car and are having trouble, speak to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your situation.

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