If I bought a car “As-Is” with a clean title but later found out that it was previously declared a “Total Loss Vehicle”, what can I do?

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If I bought a car “As-Is” with a clean title but later found out that it was previously declared a “Total Loss Vehicle”, what can I do?

While trying to trade in my car, I was informed it was previously declared a “Total Loss Vehicle.” I bought the car “As-Is” about 1.5 years ago from a used car dealership in WA, but was taken over to the manager’s office in ID to sign, so the sale legally occurred in ID. The title for the car was clear and didn’t suggest any negative history. The Carfax noted that the “Total Loss Vehicle” designation occurred in Montana approximately three years before. It seems that only 1 sale occurred between MT and ID before I bought it. Am I stuck with “As-Is” contract, or is there an option for recourse?

Asked on April 11, 2011 under General Practice, Idaho

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, be aware that Carfax is not perfect, so it's possible the loss or damage report is incorrect.

If the Carfax report is good, then the issue becomes whether or not there was any fraud in the sale, which depends primarily on whether the dealer knew or reasonably should have known of the former or previous damage. IF the dealer did know, then the dealer may have committed fraud by representing that the car had no negative history. If fraud was committed, then you may able to receive compensation--though you'd have to sue to try to recover it.

On the other hand, if there was no misrepresentation or fraud--so, if the dealer did not know of the damage--the dealer would not be liable; i.e. if they told you what they know, they did nothing wrong, and without doing something wrong, there is no liability.


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