Do I have recourse against the car dealer, if they failed to disclose problems in their vehicle inspection report?

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Do I have recourse against the car dealer, if they failed to disclose problems in their vehicle inspection report?

The dealer performed an inspection report, which stated, in particular, that the belts and hoses were inspected. Less than 30 days after purchase, a hose came off, due to broken and deteriorated seals. This in effect caused thermostat damage. In the process of repairing this issue, my mechanic informed me that the belts were also severely cracked. The dealers inspection report was used in the sale of the car, and led me to believe that all was OK, when in fact it was not. This resulted in a $1,200 repair bill.

Asked on August 31, 2011 Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if the problems existed when the car was inspected, you would have recourse against the dealer under at least one of the following two theories:

1) If the dealer saw the problems and chose to not disclose them, then fraud was committed in the sale, and you could potentially rescind the sale (give the car back, get your money back) or at least get compensation. The same would hold  true if the dealer lied about inspecting in the first place.

2) If the dealer did not see the problems, but a reasonable mechanic would have when inspecting the car, then the dealer may be liable under a negligence theory--i.e. the dealer was unreasonably careless, causing a loss to you.

If the problems either developed after the purchase (unlikely) or existed earlier but were not reasonably discoverable during that type of inspectin (plausible), then there would be no liability. So the practical issue is where the problems in existence and discoverable when the inspection was done, and can that be shown if the dealer fights paying?


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