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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 117370
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I bought a used vehicle from a California dealer in October

Customer Question

I bought a used vehicle from a California dealer in October 2014. In January, I took the vehicle in a dealership in Carlsbad, CA because it was not running properly. In March, the vehicle stalled again but only in San Diego, CA and towed it to a dealership there for repairs. In April, heading to my home in South Dakota, the vehicle broke down and had to be towed to dealership in Nevada. After four days and $10,850.00 later, I was on the road. The extended warranty I purchased did not cover the repairs because of inconsequential thing. I'm trying to see if I can get some if not most of the repairs recovered from the seller of the vehicle since I was not told of the internal problems on the vehicle.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, a used car purchase in CA without a written warranty is considered an as is purchase,. The CA courts state an as is purchase is one where the risk of hidden defects is on the buyer and not the seller. The courts use the term "caveat emptor" or "buyer beware" in talking about an as is purchase. Even in an as is purchase, there are some common law implied warranties, but in order to succeed in bringing a claim for one of the common law warranties, you must prove the seller knew of the hidden defect at the time of the purchase and 1) knew it made the vehicle unfit for use (Warranty of merchantability) or 2) knew of the defect and failed to disclose it when asked or concealed it (Warranty of Good Faith).

If you cannot prove that the dealer who sold you the vehicle knew of the vehicle had a defect at the time of the sale in October, then the seller is not going to be legally liable to you for damages. If the defect did not manifest itself until January, when you say you took it in for repair, it is going to be very hard to prove the seller knew of the defect back in October and the fact is that used vehicles break down.

If you can somehow prove they knew, then you can insist on payment for repairs from the seller under one of the two above common law warranties and if they refuse then you can file suit against them for recovery.