What are my rights if I was sold a car that had an undisclosed and illegal modification made to it?

UPDATED: Jun 20, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Jun 20, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are my rights if I was sold a car that had an undisclosed and illegal modification made to it?

I bought a car from some kid it was for sale on the side of the road. About10 minutes after driving itthe road the check engine light came on. I had a code reader with me and it read the catalytic converter, so I brought it to the shop. They put it up on a lift and discovered that the guy I bought the car from had cut out the catalytic converters and welded in straight pipes. It is extremely illegal and he knowingly erased the check engine code. I got an estimate from the Audi dealership, since it needs stock converters back in the car, and it is at least $2,000 which is what I paid for the car. Can I take him to court for my money back, and win?

Asked on June 20, 2011 under General Practice, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You should be able to sue him for either (1) to rescind the deal and get your money back (and give back the car), or (2) for the cost of the repairs or modifications. Clearly, if he himself did this as you suspect, he would be liable on both breach of contract grounds (you paid  for  legal car; he did not provide same) and/or fraud grounds (he mispresented, or lied, to you in selling you the car as if it was legal to drive, when it's not. Even if he did not do the modification (e.g. some prior owner did, if there was any), you'd have good grounds to rescind the deal: in NJ (or other states), an illegal contract is not enforceable and may be voided. An illegal contract is one to do an illegal thing. If the car is not legal to drive, then selling it as if it were would seem to be an illegal contract.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption