UNDISCLOSED DEFECTS IN USED CARS
If you’ve bought a used car, there is a good chance you also bought mechanical defects or problems of some kind. A certain amount of that is normal and acceptable; after all, a used car is just that, used. These days dealers tend to label them pre-owned instead of used because it sounds better but we are talking about the same thing – a vehicle that someone else owned and used for some period of time. A certain amount of wear and tear is normal and expected.
In Georgia, many used cars are sold “as-is” with no warranty. “As-is” basically disclaims any warranty as to the condition of the car and is an attempt by the dealer to shift the burden of any conditions the car has to you, the buyer.
Labeling a car “as-is” does not allow the dealer to lie. Generally, they have no duty to dig and to tell you everything there is to know about the car; but what they do tell you has to be the truth. If you ask the dealer about a vehicle’s wreck history, for example, and they tell you “This car has never been in a wreck” when they know the vehicle has a wreck history, the “as-is” disclaimer does not get them off the hook.
One common tactic is for a dealer to defer to the carfax report. So, for example, for the dealer to answer the inquiry above by handing you a copy of the carfax. This might still be actionable, because the carfax report is the dealer’s answer to the question; if they knew there was something that should be on the report that isn’t, it would be a lie. What would not be actionable would be the dealer answering you, “I don’t know,” and then selling you the car, which turned out to have a wreck history; or handing you the carfax, if they believed in good faith that the carfax was complete.
The same is true for mechanical problems. What you ask the dealer matters a lot and what the dealer says in response matters a lot. The dealer does not need to find and disclose every single defect in the car. However, what the dealer does disclose must be accurate, whether they sell it “as-is” or not. If they tell you the battery was inspected and was OK, then that must be true.
If you think you purchased a car with undisclosed defects, you should consult a consumer protection attorney. Divis Law will perform a case analysis and give you options. If we take your case, very often we can recover our costs and fees from the dealer. Contact Divis Law to set up an appointment. We may be able to help if your car has problems that the dealer did not disclose.