What to do if the condition of a used car was misrepresented to me?

I bought a car from a private sekker in another state for $2250. At the time of the sale the car had a check brake light on. He claimed it was a cheap sensor fix and brought the price down to accommodate. The car had passed inspection and he had the legal documents to prove it so I purchased it keeping a copy of the bill of sale. I went to get the car inspected myself by a professional mechanic in RI who told me that the car would not pass the inspection and that it will cost me roughly $2000 or more to get the car street legal. This was way too much for me so I then called the private seller to inform him of the situation and he refused to return my money to me. What should I do?

Asked on September 24, 2012 under General Practice, Rhode Island


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A knowing misrepresentation of a material (or significant) fact about an item for sale is fraud; fraud can provide the basis to either rescind the transaction (return car, get money back) or seek monetary compensation (damages)--such as the cost to correct/repair the problems. So if the seller knew of the conditions that prevent the car from passing inspections and lied about them, you may be able to take legal action against the seller (sue him), to force him to take the money back or to recover comensation from him. However, be aware that suing someone in another state can be more costly and difficult, so it's not clear this would be worthwhile.

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