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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 12554
Experience:  25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
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Last month my boyfriend noticed a nice looking SAAB sitting

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Last month my boyfriend noticed a nice looking SAAB sitting by the office at a local wrecking yard for 3150.00. When I went down to see it the owner said, there is nothing wrong with the car whatsoever other than there is only one key for it, which I had better not lose because he had to have one made after the previous owner lost his and it was 1500-1800 to have it made. When my boyfriend asked him for the key to start the car he gave it but said not to mess with the convertible top because it's hard to do without reading all of the instructions on it in the book. I took a pic of the license plate and the side of the car so I could run a car fax. The car fax came back clean having just one owner, who according to this guy went several years without being driven due to the guy losing this hard to make key. I went back about a week later with my girlfriend and asked the guy to take me for a test drive in it, which he said he couldn't do because he was closing early but reassured me everything was working fine. I gave him 200 deposit to hold it for me until I got the rest of the money. He said when I came back to pay the balance I could choose between having a salvaged title and paying off the registration fees which are 3 years behind. I told him more than likely I would opt for a salvaged title but I wanted to look into it.
I went to pick up the car on Saturday morning and I was surprised to find out that the owner had already processed the car as a salvaged title without my saying so. I asked him if I could take a test drive and he said, “No he did not have anyone else to watch the counter.” Again, he assured me everything was fine with the car. My boyfriend asked him if the air conditioner worked and he said. “He was pretty sure it did. He handed my boyfriend the key and he started the engine which sounded good. Again he warned us not to mess with the top until we had time to take it home and look over the instructions carefully. He said, it takes a long time to put the top down. I paid him in cash the balance of 2650.00 and he gave me a bill of sale for the car with no mileage written on it or year. There is nothing about a salvaged title. The keys have the year 2000 written on them and the manual says 2000 but the door of the car says it’s a 1998. I went to get in the car to leave and I noticed the seat belt for the driver side of the car would not pull out at all. I asked him about it and he said it is nothing to have my boyfriend fix it. While driving down the long driveway to the street I noticed the most horrible sound coming from the front end on my side. I turned around and he told me it’s probably from the tires not being the best. That was a lie it’s because the cap is broken on the strut. The tires are so bad you can see a broken cord and they should not be driven. As I drove home the car got harder and harder to steer because it has a blown high pressure hydro power hose. Something about a broken shock tower, Idler pulley, water pump pulley or serpentine belt,. The reason he kept telling us not to mess with the convertible is because it’s broken and cannot latch on either end of the car. The trunk won’t open because the top s in the way. No front plate and one of the speakers in blown. Oh yea and of course, the air conditioner does not work! Can you tell me if I have any recourse to get my money back from this person?

HI, Tami, My name is ***** ***** my goal is to provide you with Excellent Service,

I am sorry to hear of the experience you had with this seller,

As a general rule, the lemon laws do not offer protection to buyers of used vehicles and the legal principle of "Caveat Emptor" (Let the buyer beware) applies with a few exceptions. The law imposes on us the obligation to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic of our own choosing before we sign an Agreement of Sale and before paying over our hard earned money.

An exception to this rule is where the seller (whether a dealer or a private seller) engages in fraud, then the buyer has recourse against the seller in demanding a full refund and returning the vehicle. Your situation somewhat falls within this category. I say "somewhat" because although there is no question, but that the seller was making every attempt to defraud you out of your money and sell you and your boyfriend a vehicle which had quite a few defects, the fact that the seller always had an excuse for not permitting you to test drive it or to test the convertible top might have made the average person suspicious about the true condition of the vehicle.

If I were in your position, I would not let this guy get away with anything. I would first go back to him and tell him you were leaving the vehicle with him and demand a refund in full. When he refused to give me a full refund (which, of course, he will) I would tell him that not only would I file a lawsuit against him for a refund, but I would ask the Judge to award me punitive damages because of his intention to defraud me. Lastly, I would tell him that I was going to report him to the California State Attorney General's Office for prosecution and revocation of his license to do business in California.

Punitive damages are usually three times ordinary damages. So, if your ordinary damages are the price of the vehicle of $3,150, punitive damages would be $9,450, so that your total recovery would be $12, 600 [$3,150 + ($3,150 x 3 = $9,450) = $12,600.

California Attorney General -

And if the seller does not have a dealer's license to sell vehicles, he will be in even deeper trouble.

I would then immediately file a lawsuit against the seller in Small Claims Court in the County where the transaction took place. The jurisdictional maximum of the Small Claims Court is not exceeded because the maximum is determined without the addition of other damages, Court costs, and other fees incurred as a result of having to file a lawsuit against a Defendant.

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, Esq. and 3 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Can you tell me if the seller is exempt from the law that says the seller has to smog the vehicle prior to selling it because he told me verbally he plans to put a salvaged title on it and he also changed the amount that he sold me the car for on the bill of sale from 2850.00 to 1850.00? Please see the below documents which is everything I have so far as I have not received anything from the DMV. It says nothing about a salvaged title. He wrote me out a receipt on 6/07/13 when I gave him 200.00 for a deposit saying the balance on the car is 2650.00 then when I picked it up on 6/29/13 he wrote me a receipt saying I paid the 2650.00 in full. I had no idea he did this but he wrote the bill of sale out saying that the car was just 1850.00 and that he did not get the car until 6/12/13 I have no idea why he would lie. I had a problem before with a car that my boyfriend bought for me years ago that the seller did not smog and that later would not pass smog. It was a 3k mistake because the seller had no money to pay me back with and my boyfriend and he decided to lower the amount the car was sold for to minimize the taxes and registration fees to less than 2k. When I looked into it I had no legal recourse against the seller because the law said, I believe that cars sold for less than 2k were exempt. Can you clarify the current law in California? I understand that the turbo is not working on the car and that it will not pass smog without it. I am wondering if the seller will have to repair it. Thank You,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I went ahead and looked up the rules for smog with the DMV and it says the seller needed to pay for the smog prior to selling me the vehicle. I have found several additional problems with the car that I am sure will result in a failed smog test. I recall reading if the car will not pass smog the judge will order the seller to pay for the repairs even if they are more than the car itself. Is this true and will he order him to reimburse me if I pay for the repairs myself?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Can you tell me what the statute of limitations is for a small claims suit like this one?