What if I buy a car as is?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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If you buy a car “as is,” that means there is no warranty, either express or implied, associated with the purchase of that car. Under the law, there are both express and implied warranties available for many different types of purchases. This means that even if a seller doesn’t make you a specific promise that the item will work, an implied warranty may kick in and you may be guaranteed that an item will perform as it should and/or that all promises regarding the type of the item were true. However, when a car is sold “as is” that means that no warranty applies at all, not even an implied warranty. 

Understanding an “As Is” Transaction

Usually, when you buy a car “as is,” that purchase is from a private seller. If you agree to the “as is” terms, you may have little to no recourse under the law if something goes wrong or if the car turns out to not be what the seller says it was. 

Sometimes, however, labeling a car “as is” isn’t going to protect the seller from any potential responsibility. Some states won’t allow “as is” transactions for car sales. In still others, there are limits imposed. For example, a seller may have a duty to disclose when a car has a salvage title (has previously been declared a total loss) even when he sells it “as is.” In addition, state lemon laws may apply to govern the sale as well, and may take precedence over an “as is” agreement between the parties. 

Getting Help

If you buy a car “as is,” you should have it carefully looked over first. If you’ve already made your purchase and something has gone wrong, you should consult with a lawyer to find out what recourse, if any, you may have under the laws of your state.  

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