What are my rights regarding a used car that I purchased through an on-line site?

I purchased a used car through craigslist. 5 days after It broke down 5 days later due to engine problems that were not reported before the car was sold. A bill of sale was not completed and the title, I discovered, was still being transferred from the previous owner to the seller. I have his phone number and address and he won’t call me back after leaving him multiple voice mails with my phone number and explicitly asking to talk about the car’s title and condition. He has not returned my calls for almost 2 weeks.

Asked on March 31, 2011 under General Practice, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The good news is that you do have some recourse; the bad news is you will have to bring a legal action to receive it.

1) If the seller did not have title, he could not sell the car; the sale could be voided on that ground, and you receive you money back.

2) If the seller knew of material, or important, problems with the car and did not disclose them, that might constitute fraud, which could be used to either receive your money back or damages (e.g. cost of repair)

3) There are some laws in place which allow additional damages or recovery in certain consummer fraud cases, which may benefit you.

You should consult with an attorney about the strength of your case, what  it might be worth, and also, what it would cost to pursue it; you can then make an informed decision as to what to do.

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