How to Sue a Used Vehicle Dealer in Small Claims Court (2022)

Successfully suing used vehicle dealers can be tricky. Unlike new vehicle dealers, who are usually somewhat dependent upon their reputation in the community for honesty, a fair percentage of used vehicle dealers don't have a good reputation to start with and survive by becoming experts at self-protection.

The principal self-protection device employed by used vehicle dealers is the "as is" designation in the written sales contract. The salesperson may praise a car to the sky, but when you read the contract, you will see it clearly stated that the seller takes absolutely no responsibility for the condition of the vehicle and that it is sold "as is."

(Video) Small claims court used car as is sale real deal auto. lemon law .

To successfully sue a used car dealer, you must be able to prove that:

  • you suffered a financial loss (this is not hard if you had to pay for repairs), and
  • the dealer is legally responsible for your damages.

This second point is often harder to prove. Almost surely, the used car dealer will testify that he or she had no way of knowing how long a ten-year-old Dodge would last and that, for this very reason, the car was sold "as is." The dealer will then show the judge the written contract that not only contains the "as is" designation, but also "this written contract is the entire agreement between the parties and no oral statements or representations made by the dealer or any salesperson are part of the contract."

How can you fight this sort of cynical semi-fraud? It's difficult to do after the fact. The time for self-protection is before you buy a vehicle, when you have the opportunity to have it checked by an expert and to get a vehicle history report. There are a lot of online resources for checking a vehicle's history, particularly if you have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). In addition, you have the opportunity to refuse to close the deal unless the salesperson's claims about the great condition of the car are put in the contract. Of course, after the damage has been done, good advice such as this isn't worth much. If you have just been cheated on a used car deal, you want to know what, if anything, you can do now. Here are some suggestions.

(Video) What To Do When the Car Dealer Lied To You - Lawyer Discusses Options

Your state's lemon law may apply to used vehicles. In some states, the lemon law applies to used as well as new cars. Check to see if your situation is covered.

Argue fraud. If the car broke almost immediately after you took it out of the used car lot, you can file in small claims court and argue that you were defrauded. Your theory is that, no matter what the written contract said, there was a clear implication that you purchased a car, not a junk heap. When the dealer produces the "as is" contract you signed, argue that it is no defense to fraud.

Did the dealer make promises? If the dealer made any promises, either in writing or orally, about the good condition of the vehicle, he or she may be required to live up to them. Why? Because statements about a product that you rely on as part of deciding whether to purchase the product constitute an express warranty that the dealer breaches if the promise turns out to be a lie. This is true even if the seller had you sign a contract with an "as is" statement that disclaims all warranties, because an "as is" statement does not disclaim an express warranty if one is made. The key to winning this sort of case is to produce a witness to the dealer's laudatory statements about the vehicle, copies of ads that state the car is in good shape, and anything else that will back up your story.

(Video) SMALL CLAIMS COURT FOR SMALLER USED CAR "LEMON LAW" CLAIMS. GOING TO SMALL CLAIMS COURT.

There also may be an implied warranty. There are two types of implied warranties. One type–the implied warranty of fitness–means that the vehicle is warranted to work for a particular purpose (say, consistency). The more common implied warranty is for merchantability. Here, you would argue that the car you bought was so defective that it didn't meet the reasonable standards expected of even a used car.

A radical remedy: Give the car back and stop payment. You may consider having the car towed back to the lot and then refusing to make future payments. This option should be considered only in an extreme situation, but it does shift the burden of taking legal action to the other side, at which point you can defend on the basis of fraud (see above). If you take this approach, be sure you have excellent documentation that the car was below any reasonable expectations. And be sure to write a letter detailing the circumstances surrounding your extreme difficulties with the dealer, along with a convincing statement that, taken as a whole, the dealer's conduct amounts to consumer fraud. Send copies to the dealer and the bank or finance company to whom you pay your loan. Of course, you will probably have already made a down payment, so even in this situation you may wish to initiate action in small claims court to try to recover it.

Your credit rating will suffer. If you stop making payments, it will appear as a default on your credit report and will affect your credit score significantly, so think very carefully before choosing this course of action.

(Video) Know your rights about auto repair

How to find signs of fraud. If you really suspect that you have been defrauded, have your car checked by an experienced mechanic who will be willing to write a letter explaining the findings. If the mechanic can find affirmative evidence that you were cheated, you will greatly improve your small claims case. The mechanic might, for example, find that the speedometer had been tampered with in violation of state law, or that a heavy grade of truck oil had been put in the crankcase so that the car wouldn't belch smoke. Also, this is the sort of case where subpoenaing documents might help. Specifically, you might wish to subpoena the car dealer's records, including any that indicate the dealer's purchase price and the condition of the car when it was purchased. It might also be helpful to learn the name of the car's former owner, with the idea of contacting that person. You can also check the car's history through an online service (search the Internet for "vehicle history"), which can tell you whether the car was stolen or salvaged, or was used as a rental or a taxi.

Consider other remedies besides small claims court. These can include checking with your state department of consumer affairs or the local department of motor vehicles to see if used car lots are regulated. In many states, the department of motor vehicles licenses used car dealers and can be very helpful in getting disputes resolved, particularly where your complaint is one of many against the same dealer for similar practices. Also, contact your district attorney's office. Most now have a consumer fraud division, which can be of great help. If you can convince someone at the fraud division that what happened to you smells rotten, or if your complaint happens to be against someone they have already identified as a borderline criminal, they will likely call the used car dealer in for a chat. In theory, the D.A.'s only job is to bring a criminal action, which will be of no direct aid in getting your money back, but in practice, negotiations can often result in restitution. In plain words, this means that the car dealer may be told, "Look, you're right on the edge of the law here (or maybe over the edge). If you clean up your act, which means taking care of all complaints against you and seeing that there are no more, we will close your file. If you don't, I suggest you hire a good lawyer, because you are going to need one."

FAQs

Does the Consumer Rights Act apply to used cars? ›

The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015 and covers the purchase of goods, digital content and services including new and used cars from official dealers (it doesn't apply to private sales) as well as servicing, repairs and maintenance work.

What rights do you have buying a secondhand car? ›

(For a used car, “satisfactory quality” takes into account the car's age and mileage.) You have a right to reject something faulty and you're entitled to a full refund within 30 days of purchase in most cases. After 30 days, you lose the short-term right to reject the goods.

How do I report a car dealer in NJ? ›

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

How do I sue a car dealership in Georgia? ›

You may contact the Consumer Protection Division at the Georgia Department of Law at 800-869-1123, for assistance with a franchise dealer. Additionally, you may file a complaint directly with the customer service department of the franchise dealer.

Can you return a used car if it has problems? ›

You do not need to allow the supplier to repair or replace the goods, you can demand a refund as soon as you become aware of the defects. The Motor Industry Ombud does not share our view and will recommend that the vehicle be repaired if possible, even if it is contrary to the wording of the CPA.

What is the minimum warranty on a used car? ›

A used-car warranty typically lasts for three, six or 12 months, with older cars often supplied with shorter policies.

Can I get a refund on a private car sale? ›

After a vehicle is sold from one private party to another, the buyer can ask for their money back, but the seller generally does not have to agree to cancel the sale, absent a warranty or fraud.

What to do if you get scammed buying a car? ›

What to Do if You Are a Victim of an Auto Scam
  1. Contact your state attorney general's office and your local Better Business Bureau.
  2. File a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center and the National Consumer League's fraud center.
  3. Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
17 Jun 2021

What does a 30 day warranty cover on a used car? ›

The warranty must cover essential components, such as the engine, transmission, brakes, steering and most electronics. If the dealer is unable to repair problems that arise in the first 1,000 miles or 30 days, it must offer the customer a refund on their purchase.

How do I sue a car dealership in NJ? ›

Consumers who believe they were deceived or misled in doing business with a car dealership can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website at njconsumeraffairs.gov or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.

How do I file a lawsuit in NJ? ›

  1. STEP 1: Fill out the Complaint (Form A) ...
  2. STEP 2: Fill out the Civil Case Information Statement (CIS) ...
  3. STEP 3: Make a check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey in the.
  4. STEP 4: Check your completed forms and make copies. ...
  5. STEP 5: Mail or deliver the forms to the court.
15 Aug 2022

How do I file a complaint with Nhtsa? ›

Consumers can file a complaint by clicking “Report a Problem” on NHTSA's website. Consumers can also file a complaint through NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 / Hearing Impaired (TTY) 800-424-9153 (8 am – 8 pm ET Monday-Friday).

Can I return a used car in Georgia? ›

Vehicles Purchased in Georgia “As Is”

If you purchase a used car, SUV, truck, or van “as is”, that means the vehicle does not have a warranty and you do not have any recourse under Georgia law. You are accepting the vehicle in the condition it is currently in at the time you purchased the vehicle.

Who regulates used car dealers in Georgia? ›

The 14-member Georgia State Board of Registration of Used Motor Vehicle Dealers and Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers is composed of two divisions, a Used Motor Vehicle Division, and a Used Motor Vehicle Parts Division.

Is there a lemon law in Georgia for used cars? ›

The Georgia Lemon Law. Georgia's Lemon Law is designed to help you get a defective vehicle repaired by the manufacturer. If your motor vehicle cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts and is found to be a "lemon", the law requires the manufacturer to replace or buy back (repurchase) the vehicle.

Does the Consumer Protection Act apply to private car sales? ›

Private and auction sales are generally not covered by the CPA. “Defective or poor-quality cars can cause huge cost and frustration. Most people understand that purchases on auction are generally voetstoots, so they expect to pay lower prices to compensate for that risk.

Do car dealers have to give a 3 month warranty? ›

Many used cars are sold with a three-month warranty, some have one year while others may have none. This is entirely legal. Although warranties do not have to be offered Lawgistics recommend car dealers provide customers with something in writing (dealer guarantee, claims procedure or simple terms and conditions).

Can you return a faulty car on finance? ›

Yes, you can make a claim if you acquired a defective car or vehicle with a finance deal because it was not your fault: the more recent the claim, the better. It is possible for the car manufacturer to be held responsible or liable if there is a manufacturing defect.

What is the FTC Used Car Rule? ›

The Used Car Rule, formally known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule, has been in effect since 1985. It requires car dealers to display a window sticker, known as a Buyers Guide, on the used cars they offer for sale.

What happens if car warranty is not honored? ›

When your warranty company refuses to honor the terms of a warranty, you may have a claim for breach of contract. The amount allowed in small claims varies from state to state, but for most products, you can sue in small claims court.

Is sold as seen legal? ›

'Sold as seen' or 'trade sale' are not legally binding terms even when included on a sales invoice. If buying from a dealer, it is advisable to ignore this type of statement where the trader is attempting to remove their liability should something be wrong with the car.

Is it a criminal Offence to sell an unroadworthy car? ›

Selling an unroadworthy car is a criminal offence unless the buyer is fully aware of this fact, so it would be wise to make this very clear from the moment you advertise the car. Selling an unroadworthy car is a criminal offence unless the buyer is fully aware of this fact.

Do private sellers have to accept returns? ›

As a private seller, you must accept a return if the item was not as described in the product listing. So for example, if you said something was new, and it had 11 Page 13 clearly been used you would need to pay for return costs and refund the cost of the item.

What does SOLD AS SEEN mean? ›

When goods are “sold as seen”, it generally means that the goods are sold in their existing condition and no representation is given in respect of quality. The words “without warranty” would suggest the seller is providing no warranty as to the quality or fitness for purpose of the goods.

What can a scammer do with my VIN? ›

Identity Theft

It should go without saying that anyone willing to steal your physical vehicle identification numbers can also gain access to and steal your identity. They can very easily discover your name, address, nationality, age, etc. all through your VIN. With that type of information, they can do further harm.

How can I avoid getting scammed for a used car? ›

To avoid being scammed, only buy a car from a seller whose name is on the title. Before handing over the cash, ask to see the seller's driver's license and make sure it exactly matches the title.

How do you know if a buyer is scamming you? ›

6 Signs Your Cash Buyer is a Scammer | 2-10 Blog
  1. The buyer seems to be taking a blind leap. ...
  2. The buyer seems overly eager to share financial details. ...
  3. The buyer makes an error. ...
  4. The buyer is unprofessional. ...
  5. Things don't add up. ...
  6. The buyer has few, if any, references.

Do dealerships have to provide warranty? ›

Dealer-provided warranty

There is no legal obligation for car dealers to provide any kind of warranty, but many independent dealers will offer their own with the used cars they sell.

What kind of warranty comes with a used car? ›

A used car warranty is an extended warranty that drivers can purchase to cover repairs to the major mechanical components of a used vehicle, such as the engine and transmission. The best used car warranty companies are Carchex, Toco Warranty, and autopom!, based on WalletHub's analysis of 11 major providers.

Should a used car come with warranty? ›

Under California law, licensed car dealerships are not generally required to offer warranties with the used automobiles that they sell.

How does the lemon law work in NJ? ›

New Jersey's New Car Lemon Law protects you when you purchase a new motor vehicle that develops seri- ous warranty defects which the dealer or manufacturer cannot repair. The law covers vehicles during the first two years from the original date of delivery or 24,000 miles - whichever comes first.

Can I sue for yo yo financing? ›

And yes, you may be able to sue over it, particularly if they lied to you and told you that you were already approved. If you've run into a yo yo financing scheme, call us at 657-845-3100, or e-mail us at contact@kneuppercovey.com. We don't charge to evaluate cases, and you may have a legal claim.

Can I sue a dealership for not paying off my trade in New Jersey? ›

It is a dishonest practice that only the most dishonest and ruthless car dealerships engage in. Fortunately, customers who are victims of repossessions due to the dealer not paying off the trade can sue the car dealership for their damages.

hoW muCh does it cost to file a lawsuit in NJ? ›

hoW muCh Does it Cost? The cost of filing in Small Claims Court is $35.00 if you are filing a case against one defendant, and $5.00 more for each additional defendant.

Do you need a lawyer for Small Claims Court? ›

You do not need a lawyer to represent you at a Small Claims Court.

hoW does Small Claims Court work in NJ? ›

What is small claims court? The Small Claims Section of the Special Civil Part Court is where you can sue a person or business (the defendant) to collect a small amount of money that you believe is owed to you. You can sue for up to $5,000 in small claims court.

How long does an NHTSA investigation take? ›

Investigations are generally resolved within 12 months from the date they are opened . They are either closed on the basis that further investigation is not warranted, or because the manufacturer has decided to conduct a recall .

How does the NHTSA help consumers? ›

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for keeping people safe on America's roadways. Through enforcing vehicle performance standards and partnerships with state and local governments, NHTSA reduces deaths, injuries and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes.

What is vehicle recall policy? ›

The manufacturer, importer, or retrofitter of the motor vehicle shall have an option of closure of recall after one year from recall release date. However, on completion of three years from the recall release date, the recall may be deemed automatically inactive,” the Road Ministry notification said.

Can you return a used car if it has problems? ›

You do not need to allow the supplier to repair or replace the goods, you can demand a refund as soon as you become aware of the defects. The Motor Industry Ombud does not share our view and will recommend that the vehicle be repaired if possible, even if it is contrary to the wording of the CPA.

Does the Consumer Rights Act apply to used cars? ›

The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015 and covers the purchase of goods, digital content and services including new and used cars from official dealers (it doesn't apply to private sales) as well as servicing, repairs and maintenance work.

Do you have 3 days to return a used car in Georgia? ›

I have to tell them that there is no “cooling off' period in Georgia in the purchase of a new or used car. Georgia law only provides for a three day right to rescind in the case of door to door sales of vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias or other home solicitation sales.

How do I sue a car dealership in Georgia? ›

You may contact the Consumer Protection Division at the Georgia Department of Law at 800-869-1123, for assistance with a franchise dealer. Additionally, you may file a complaint directly with the customer service department of the franchise dealer.

Can a dealer sell a car without emissions in Georgia? ›

In Georgia, all sellers of gas-powered cars and light-duty trucks (those with a gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR of 8,500 pounds or less) must sell a vehicle with a current, valid, passing emissions inspection if the seller is located in one of the 13 counties comprising the Atlanta metro area -- Cherokee, Clayton, ...

How long does a dealer have to provide a title in Georgia? ›

Georgia law requires a dealer to deliver tag and title paperwork within 30 days.

What rights do I have buying a car from a dealer? ›

Problems with cars bought from dealers

(For a used car, “satisfactory quality” takes into account the car's age and mileage.) You have a right to reject something faulty and you're entitled to a full refund within 30 days of purchase in most cases. After 30 days, you lose the short-term right to reject the goods.

What qualifies for Georgia lemon law? ›

Any defect or condition included in the manufacturer's warranty that substantially impairs the vehicle's use, value or safety to the consumer is covered under the Lemon Law.

Does Georgia have a 30 day lemon law? ›

(2) That a new motor vehicle was out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of 30 days within the lemon law rights period, the consumer shall be awarded replacement or repurchase of the new motor vehicle as provided under Code Section 10-1-784.

Can you return a used car in Virginia? ›

IF THE SALE IS CANCELLED, YOU NEED TO RETURN THE VEHICLE TO THE DEALER WITHIN 24 HOURS OF VERBAL OR WRITTEN NOTICE IN THE SAME CONDITION IT WAS GIVEN TO YOU, EXCEPT FOR NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR. ANY DOWN PAYMENT OR TRADE-IN YOU GAVE THE DEALER WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU.

How long do you have to reject a used car? ›

Broadly speaking there are three time periods for rejection: within the first 30 days of purchase; after 30 days but before six months; and after six months.

Does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 apply to private sale? ›

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 does not apply to private sellers, and a buyer's rights are significantly reduced when a sale is carried out between two individuals.

Can I get a refund on a private car sale? ›

After a vehicle is sold from one private party to another, the buyer can ask for their money back, but the seller generally does not have to agree to cancel the sale, absent a warranty or fraud.

Is there a used car law in Virginia? ›

Used Cars and the Lemon Law

In general, then, the used car you purchased cannot be older than 18 months and the warranty must be valid.

Is there a Lemon Law for used cars in VA? ›

Is there a “Lemon Law” for used cars? No. Under Virginia's “Lemon Law,” you must have bought the vehicle new, or used with the original warranty.

Does Virginia have a buyers remorse law? ›

(1) Except as provided in subsection (5), in addition to any right otherwise to revoke an offer, the buyer has the right to cancel a home solicitation sale until midnight of the third business day after the day on which the buyer signs an agreement or offer to purchase which complies with § 59.1-21.4.

What is the Used Car Rule? ›

As per the norm, cars that are older than 15 years cannot be used. Though they can be transferred to a new state for re-registration, it is a hassle. Instead, one can scrap the car. In India, car scrapping is not an organised activity like the sale of used cars.

Does sold as seen still apply? ›

'Sold as seen' or 'trade sale' are not legally binding terms even when included on a sales invoice. If buying from a dealer, it is advisable to ignore this type of statement where the trader is attempting to remove their liability should something be wrong with the car.

Can you return a faulty car on finance? ›

Yes, you can make a claim if you acquired a defective car or vehicle with a finance deal because it was not your fault: the more recent the claim, the better. It is possible for the car manufacturer to be held responsible or liable if there is a manufacturing defect.

What are the 8 basic rights of a consumer? ›

Knowing them empowers and protects you against market abuses and social injustices.
  • The right to basic needs. ...
  • The right to safety. ...
  • The right to information. ...
  • The right to choose. ...
  • The right to representation. ...
  • The right to redress. ...
  • The right to consumer education. ...
  • The right to a healthy environment.

What are the 4 legal rights of a consumer? ›

How a charter of basic rights began. In 1962, then US President John F Kennedy declared four basic consumer rights – the right to safety; the right to be informed; the right to choose and the right to be heard.

What 3 things must goods be under the Consumer Rights Act 2015? ›

Under The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for purchases made before 1 October 2015) the law says that any goods you buy must be: Of satisfactory quality; Fit for any particular purpose made known to the seller; and. As described.

What to do if you get scammed buying a car? ›

What to Do if You Are a Victim of an Auto Scam
  1. Contact your state attorney general's office and your local Better Business Bureau.
  2. File a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center and the National Consumer League's fraud center.
  3. Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
17 Jun 2021

Does sold as seen mean anything? ›

When goods are “sold as seen”, it generally means that the goods are sold in their existing condition and no representation is given in respect of quality. The words “without warranty” would suggest the seller is providing no warranty as to the quality or fitness for purpose of the goods.

Is it a criminal Offence to sell an unroadworthy car? ›

Selling an unroadworthy car is a criminal offence unless the buyer is fully aware of this fact, so it would be wise to make this very clear from the moment you advertise the car. Selling an unroadworthy car is a criminal offence unless the buyer is fully aware of this fact.

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