What to do if I purchased a used vehicle from a private party and it has mechanical issues?

UPDATED: Jul 30, 2013

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What to do if I purchased a used vehicle from a private party and it has mechanical issues?

The seller advertised the vehicle as having, “No check engine light no maintenance required at all…motor and transmission are in excellent condition.” Test drove car on surface streets only and seemed fine. On my way home, after purchase, the car showed symptoms of having mechanical issues (lost power going up grade and engine started jerking). I took the car to my mechanic and he said that the “Check Engine” indicator lamp had been purposely removed so I would not see it illumintated, indicating that there are issues with the car. My mechanic hooked it up to a diagnostic computer and four error codes came up. Is there any legal action that I can take against the seller?

Asked on July 30, 2013 under General Practice, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the seller for fraud.  Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.

In other words, you would not have purchased the car had you known its true condition.

Your damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for fraud) would be the amount you paid for the car and your mechanic's bill.  You can also seek punitive damages ( a substantial amount) to punish the seller for the fraud he /she perpetrated.

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