What to do if a dealer failed to disclose engine problems regarding the sale of a used car?

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What to do if a dealer failed to disclose engine problems regarding the sale of a used car?

My son bought a used car from a dealership 4 days ago in which. I accompanied him. The buyers guide stated the vehicle would be sold as is – no warranty. There was nothing else explaining any issues written on that notice nor disclosed to us at anytime during the transaction. We signed and took the car. My husband found the buyers guide under the seat and the dealer had written in ink that no systems were covered and the vehicle was being sold as a “mechanic special in need of engine repairs. Customer has heard and is aware of noise coming from motor. Sold as is”. However, none of this info was disclosed to me nor did we sign anything stating we knew vehicle has problems. What can we do now?

Asked on January 25, 2012 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Fraud is the knowing (or intentional) misrepresentation (or lie) of a material (or important) fact, which is made to induce the other party to enter into a transaction. It can also be be the intentional (or deliberate) omission (or failure to state) a fact which there is a duty to disclose--such as the fact that a car is a "mechanic special."

From what you write, the dealer may well have committed fraud, by not disclosing significant issues of which they were aware, therefore misrepresenting the shape or condition of the car. Fraud can provide a basis for rescinding a contract--you return the car, get your money back--or for seeking monetary compensation; in many states, there is a consumer fraud statute which even provides for additional or enhanced damages (compensation) when a vendor or business defrauds a consumer. If the dealership will not voluntarily make your son whole, he and you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options; from what you write, you son may have rights and may be entitled to compensation of one sort or another.


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