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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 29985
Experience:  Lawyer
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We live in and both the dispute and transaction occurred in

Customer Question

We live in and both the dispute and transaction occurred in Los Angeles, CA. I made a verbal agreement to buy a car from a guy (with a Car Dealer's License) who sells car out of his house and gave him $2,550 without knowing anything about the car - i.e. current mileage, value, status (salvaged or not). He was highly recommended by mutual friends - thus, the trust / confidence in handing over the money without performing standard due diligence. Huge mistake!
He dropped off a non-working car on my driveway (no power steering, unregistered, dead (i.e. ignition key does not start car), dented, peeling paint, broken tail and head lights). In addition, I have begun looking into the 2002 car's value. Kelley's Blue Book states that the car is worth $2,556 - up to $3,449 (in excellent condition). The car is no where no excellent. When the car was dropped off, the Dealer / Seller did not provide us with any documentation- e.g. bill of sale, car title, registration. Technically, we have no paperwork on that car and it is legally not our car.
Since I discovered the car's value, and the extensive repairs that need to be done to operate it, I informed the Dealer that I no longer planned to proceed with the purchase; asked him to come pick up / remove his car from my property; and demanded a full refund of my money back. I even enlisted the mutual friend who connected us to assist resolve the issue. The Dealer / Seller won't cooperate.
Instead, he in turn increased the asking price another $1,000; refuses / has not responded to my verbal & written demands to pick up his car; and won't respond to my reimbursement demands. Essentially, he is demanding that I pay him $5,000 for a non-operational car that's worth up to $3,449.
What are my best options to properly and legally resolve this matter? I appreciate your anticipated your assistance. his car can not and will not remain in my driveway forever. Nor will I permit him to keep my cash for a dead car. Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
First, there are no circumstances where you'd have to pay an extra $1,000. If I promise to sell you something for a set price, I'm bound by that price, even if I get mad at you later. Under the pre-existing duty rule, he'd never be able to get more than the originally agreed price.
With that said, a contract requires a meeting of the minds. If you agree to buy a Mercedes from me, and I agree to sell you a Hyundai, we don't have a deal because that's not the same thing (even if you like the Hyundai). He needs to give you an operational vehicle that you can register, because that's what you agreed to buy. Note that, generally, the sale of a used car is as-is. But you still have to be able to register it, so you need the title. And unless you discussed him giving you a car that flat-out doesn't work at all and needed to be towed to your house, there was no meeting of the minds here.
If he refuses to do that, you can sue in Small Claims Court for a full refund. This does not require an attorney.
You can also ask the judge to order him to award you storage costs. Another option is to send a letter, via certified mail, explaining that (a) you're going to sue if you don't get your money back and (b) he's going to have to pay storage if he doesn't remove the vehicle that still legally belongs to him. You can also let him know that if he doesn't remove it, you can have it towed as abandoned - in Los Angeles, any car may be considered abandoned after 72 hours, but it can be taken away immediately if it's missing an engine, wheels, or is otherwise clearly non-operational. If you're charged any fines, you may also be able to sue to recover those.
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