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

UPDATED: Aug 31, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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