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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 11644
Experience:  25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
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My question is, is there a time limit on how long I have to

Customer Question

My question is, is there a time limit on how long I have to take legal recourse regarding the following issue? I would like to give this car dealer an opportunity to work this out with me with no legal involvement, but am a little concerned that the dealer seems to consistently stall in returning my calls about this important matter. It made me wonder if perhaps he is trying to draw this out on purpose.

I bought a used car on May 4th. Since buying it, I put 1,000 of repairs into (I knew about these issues at sale and negotiated to accommodate). I gave away my existing car (close to junkyard status but it was OK if not driven on highway and I still have been missing it!).

I then have found that it is unable to be registered due to a bad title (it is unlikely my dealer knew about the title issue - he bought it at an auction). A friend of mine who works at a car auction told me that the title looks perfectly legitimate: it is a genuine Massachusetts title with a lien release stamp.

The title is from MA, but the latest title on record with the registry is from GA in the name of the lien holder. Apparently the original owner of the car moved to GA, got a new title without turning in the old... and then moved back to MA and began using that title as if it were the correct one. The lien holder stamped the wrong title when the lien was released.

Should we be able to solve the title problem so I can keep the car, I also wonder if I have a right to return it and/or request to get it fixed despite having signed an "as is" bill of sale. I might want to exercise this right if the needed repairs are too costly (it suddenly won't start). I would like to take it to my mechanic to be assessed, but AAA won't cover the towing because I haven't been able to get it registered. If it is a small issue I would be open to fixing it because it's an old car, but if it's a very costly issue I'd like to know if I have a right to return it or bring it back to be fixed.

It probably sounds like a lot of trouble to try to keep an old car, but it has low miles and was well taken care of. I believe that once these initial issues are repaired it will likely have a good amount of life left in it!

Thank you,

Maureen
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, and Welcome to JustAnswer

My name isXXXXX am a licensed, practicing Attorney and would like to help,

 

When you purchase a vehicle "As Is", that refers only to the mechanical parts and the operation of the vehicle; the dealer must give you clear title, there is no way a dealer can get around this, but it appears that this particular dealer does not want to be bothered with anything once he has made the sale. If the vehicle has already begun to give you mechanical problems, and you purchased it "As Is", if I were in your position, I would use the defective title as an excuse to return the vehicle and not have any further dealings with this particular dealer. You are right, he may not have known about the problem with the vehicle's title, but he has an obligation to give you good title and it does not appear that he plans to do anything to correct the situation. There is no designated time limitation on this, but if you wait too long after you see that the dealer is not doing anything, this will work against you and you will have a difficult time trying to return it to the dealer for a full refund,

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Please be kind enough to rate "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit

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Bonus and Positive Feedback on survey is very much appreciated,

 

 

ANDREA

 

 

 

Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 11644
Experience: 25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
Andrea, Esq. and 3 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Andrea.

I have decided that it does make good sense to return the vehicle. I don't trust this guy enough that he will help me get it resolved.

The only problem is that I have put $750 of repair into the car and got keys made for an additional $250 (stupidly lost the only key just after I bought it!!). There will also be a $50 fee when I get a new registration for my next car because my old registration has now expired. There was a $30 overnight package to insurance to get my RMV-1 form stamped as well.

What recourse do I have if he will not refund me for these car expenses?

For him to be legally required to refund my expenses, must this be ordered by a court? If he does not cooperate in making this right, I wondered if the bad title could make it a police matter (helping me to recoupe my expenses... I'm not looking to send him to jail... just to scare him into doing what's right).

Thank you,

Maureen
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Maureen,

 

1. The dealer's apathy and indifference to your difficult situation lead one to believe that he is not about to voluntarily accept the return of the vehicle. Maureen, I have an ethical obligation to you to give only correct Answers and not mislead you. It would be an uphill battle to get back the money for repairs because, as I stated in my previous Answer, buying a vehicle "As Is" relates to the mechanical aspects of the vehicle. The $750 you paid was for repairs. If you had incurred these costs in trying to clear the title to the vehicle, there would be no question that they would be refundable, no questions asked. But they were for repairs and since the expenses had nothing to do with clearing title to the vehicle, the dealer would not be legally obligated to reimburse you for this. A Judge might Order the dealer to reimburse you, but there would be no legal basis for it.

 

So, the prudent thing to do is, "Hope for the best, XXXXX XXXXX prepared for the worst" and you would do this by having an alternate plan in place for when you are convinced that he will not help. Of course, you would start out by trying to negotiate with the dealer on the return of the vehicle and his payment to you of "reasonable" expenses. . You should do this all in writing because this is how you would be preparing your alternate plan. So, send a demand letter regarding the return of the vehicle and see how far you can get the dealer to reimburse you at least part of the costs. Send the letter by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Inform him that you would prefer to settle this matter amicably, but you are prepared to take all legal steps to protect your rights. Give him about one week. Then file a lawsuit. You must do so in order for him to take you seriously and that you are not bluffing.

 

2. This situation is not a police matter, unfortunately. If you were to report it to the police, they would not file charges against the dealer because there really are no charges to be filed. You stated that the dealer purchased the vehicle at auction, therefore, he is not responsible for the defective title.

 

I am sorry that I was not able to assure you that the dealer had a legal obligation to reimburse you, but as I stated above, I have an ethical obligaiton to you to give you only correct Answers, so please do not hold the law applicable to this part of your case against me when rating my service to you,

 

I wish you the best of Luck,

 

_________________________________________________________________

 

Please be kind enough to rate "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit

for assisting you,

 

 

Bonus and Positive Feedback on survey is very much appreciated,

 

 

ANDREA

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you, Andrea.


 


I want to make sure I understood you correctly.


 


If he refuses to pay me the extra expenses but does take the vehicle back, is it likely that a judge would side with me regarding recouping the rest if I file a lawsuit? Or by "uphill battle" did you mean to imply that this would be difficult and perhaps not worth the trouble of taking him to court?


 


I certainly would file a lawsuit if he will not accept return of the car, but not sure about the wisest way to proceed if he will not reimburse for the expenses.


 


Thank you,


 


Maureen


 


 

Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Maureen,

 

If he does not accept the vehicle, there is no question thatyou should file a lawsuit. Your rights are based squarely on the law of contracts; you paid the dealer and in exchange, the dealer was to sell you the vehicle and transfer title, but the vehicle was sold (as most pre-owned vehicles are sold) "As Is", Well, you paid the dealer, and the dealer sold you the vehicle and transferred "physical" possession to you. title, the dealer transferred to you whatever was transferred to him at the auction.

 

1. Assume for a moment that there was nothing wrong with the title, you drove off the lot, but 10 days later the vehicle needed some expensive repairs to the engine which would cost you $750.

 

Q. Could you return the vehicle, or sue the dealer to recover the cost of repairs ?

 

A. No. Because it was purchased "As Is" and, as such, the legal principle of "Caveat Emptor" applies - "Let the buyer beware", which means the law imposes on all of us, as buyers, the obligation to have our own auto mechanic inspect the vehicle before signing the Agreement of Sale.

 

 

2. Assume the same facts, vehicle was purchased "As Is", the same mechanical problems, repairs costing $750 had to be performed, but in this instance, the title to the vehicle had some problems, but they were not discovered until attempt to register the vehicle.

 

Q. Would the dealer be legally obligated to reimburse the buyer for the $750 in repair costs ?

 

 

A. No. Because the buyer again bought the vehicle "As Is" and as such, the legal principle of "Caveat Emptor" still applies and the dealer has no liability or obligation to reimburse a buyer who bought a vehicle "As Is". The mechanical problems are separate and apart from the title problems which the dealer imust fix in order to transfer clear title to the buyer.

 

I never predict what a Judge will do,; sometimes they rule according to the law, sometimes they rule with their feelings. it is conceivable that you can argue that you made these repairs and incurred these costs in reliance on the vehicle's title being clear and had you known that it would be problematic, you would not have incurred these costs. That, basically, is the only argument that you can make, but it is not a very strong argument, but you can always try because you have nothing to lose.

 

I wish you the best of Luck,

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

Please be kind enough to rate "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit

for assisting you,

 

 

Bonus and Positive Feedback on survey is very much appreciated,

 

 

ANDREA

 

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Andrea,


 


I have a subscription to "Justask" for the month and am happy to open a new question for a new expert if you feel you've been involved enough in helping me with the original question and follow ups. Just let me know.


 


It's also entirely possible that I may have some follow up questions as things unfold so I'd like to know how I should proceed should more questions come up.


 


Here is my latest question:


 


As I mentioned, the car will not start. It is two hours away from the dealer. Towing is expensive, my AAA won't cover because the car is not registered, and I absolutely do not want to sink any more money into this car to get it to start if I'm returning the car.


 


If he does agree to a return, do I have to be able to deliver the car to him myself? Could I tell him he needs to come and get it? My guess is I have to return it myself, but I am hoping that is not the case.


 


Thank you,


 


Maureen

Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Maureen,

 

You said you have a subscription to 'Justask'; did you mean "JustAnswer" ? :) Welcome! The Experts do not have access to any customers' accounts so we do not have any information on any customer or their account. I can only tell you how it works on the Expert's end. We only receive credit if the customer rates our service to them. So, if a customer asks ten questions on one question page and receives ten Answers, but the customer rates the Expert only once, then, the Expert receives credit for only one Answer. So, whereas it does not cost the customer anything additional and does not make a difference to the customer to rate the Expert for each Answer they receive, it makes a difference to the Expert who receives credit only once. You can ask a question on a new question page and still ask for the same Expert. My customers type my name at the beginning of their question like this, "For Andrea..........." and their question is directed to me. But each customer is free to ask for any Expert they want,

 

ANDREA

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Andrea,


 


I tried, but JustAnswer seems to not let me ask a new question that is similar to a previous question. This probably would not have happened if I had not already asked it to you under this thread.


 


If anything comes up in the future, I will open a new question.


 


So back to my previous question: can I require the dealer to come get the car himself given that it won't start and I don't want to sink any more money into repairs or towing?


 


I assume not, but am hoping that is not the case.


 


Thank you,


 


Maureen


 

Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Maureen,

 

The dealer is not legally obligated to pick up the vehicle, but if you tell him that you have incurred substantial costs already for a vehicle for which he has not given you good title and if you have to pay to have it towed in, you will have no alternative but to file a lawsuit against the dealer for all the costs you have incurred, including the $750 for repairs because he will be receiving the benefit of those repairs, he might be convinced to have one of his tow trucks tow the vehicle in for you. As I said in my previous Answer, you are not charged anything additional if you rate my service to you, and that is the only way I can receive credit for assisting you. So, I am kindly requesting that you rate my service, otherwise I do not receive any credit or compensation for my time and effort in assisting you.

 

_________________________________________________________________


Please be kind enough to rate "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit

for assisting you,

 

 

Bonus and Positive Feedback on survey is very much appreciated,

 

 

ANDREA

 

 

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