What to do if a used car was not fit for sale?

UPDATED: Dec 15, 2011

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What to do if a used car was not fit for sale?

My son bought a car from a buy here/pay here car lot. The car started to overheat on him. One day he was out in it and it started overheating. He parked it in the mall parking lot and went inside. He was notified by mall security to return to his car because it had caught on fire. The investigators told him the thermostat had been removed from the car. Is this illegal to remove the thermostat from a car so you can sell it to an unsuspecting person? My son could have been injured. He still owes $1000 on this car. How can he settle this and not have to pay the remainder? It is totaled.

Asked on December 15, 2011 under General Practice, Tennessee


Michael Duffy / Duffy Law, LLC

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

How long has it been since he purchased the car? Do you know who it was who removed the thermostat?

To get any relief from the car dealer you would have to prove they removed the thermostat, or at least knew of it and deceived you (fraud). Otherwise, if they sold you the car in good faith albeit without a thermostat, there's little you can do if it was an "as-is" sale. There was no warrantee of merchantability. Also, lemon laws only apply to new cars or in some cases warranteed cars. 

Otherwise, contact your insurance company. If you still have payments you should have full coverage, so that would probably be your best option. 

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