Am I able to get my money back since the car dealership has breached our contract?

I bought a used car and they have yet to correctly repair the A/C unit in the vehicle of which I have had for now going on 6 weeks. I have paperwork stating that the A/C would be repaired and in perfect working condition, which it is not. What can I do?

Asked on June 4, 2012 under General Practice, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, you most likely cannot get your money back (and return the car; you can never do both, but would have to return the car, if that remedy were available, to get a refund) in this case. While you are correct that this appears, from what you write, to be a breach of contract, it is not likely a sufficiently "material" (or critical) breach to allow you to rescind the agreement. After all, while A/C is important, if the car otherwise runs properly, you have gotten most of what you paid for--a driveable car. When you get most of the benefit of the contract, you cannot rescind or terminate it entirely.

What you can do is sue the dealer for either monetary compensation (e.g. the cost for you to have someone else fix the A/C; or for the difference in value between a car with A/C and one without) or for a court order directing them to make the repair. (It's easier to get the monetary compensation than the court order--the law prefers to provide "damages" rather than "specific performance.")

If you are willing to take the money and are not afraid of representing yourself in court, you could act as your own lawyer in small claims court, suing for breach of the contract. The filing fees are low, and cases in small claims move more quickly. Before filing a lawsuit, get some estimates of the cost to repair and/or some evidence of the impact on the car's blue book value of no working A/C; that will let you put a number on the monetary damages.

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