Help Desk FAQ

Automobiles

 

The used car I bought has a lot of problems. Do I have any recourse?

There is no "cooling-off" period for used car purchases, so you can't simply return the vehicle to the seller. But there may be an "implied" or "express" warranty on the vehicle. 

Written or oral statements made by the seller about the car's quality, or promises to repair the car if necessary, constitute an express warranty. To prove that you were given such an express warranty, it helps to produce a witness to the seller's statements and/or copies of advertisements or other documents. Some late-model used cars also come with the remaining manufacturer's warranty (typically a certain number of years or miles).

Implied warranties are not stated outright, but automatically apply when you purchase a car, unless the car is sold "as is." The "implied warranty of merchantability" assures that a vehicle will operate as one would reasonably expect, given its age and condition. The "implied warranty of fitness" assures that the vehicle will work for a specific use that you make the seller aware of—for example, powerful enough to tow a boat. 

If a used car is sold "as is," implied warranties don't apply—only express warranties do.

However, "as is" sales are not valid under certain circumstances, such as if state law prohibits them or the seller doesn't make the "as is" condition clear. Learn more from DIY legal publisher NOLO.

If the used car is still under the original manufacturer's warranty, you may have rights under federal or state lemon laws. States also have their own versions of the lemon law, which in some cases provide even stronger consumer protections.

 
 
 
 

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