Buying a used car “as-is” may seem to leave you vulnerable if that vehicle turns out to be defective. But even without lemon law protection, there are still options to potentially recover your losses on a “lemon” used car sold as-is. Understanding your rights and following certain steps can help.
1. Document Everything In Writing
Never rely on verbal promises alone when buying an as-is used car. Get all claims and commitments about the vehicle’s condition and history in writing from the seller or dealer. Save all ads, invoices, disclosures, and correspondence related to the sale. Thorough documentation creates a paper trail if the seller misrepresented the vehicle or hid known defects. This evidence can help prove fraud later. An experienced Anaheim lemon law attorney can assist in building your case using documentation.
2. Inspect Vehicle History Reports
Run a comprehensive vehicle history report before finalizing an as-is used car purchase. This can uncover title issues, damages, major repairs, excessive owners, and more. Share concerning finds with the seller and clarify in writing. If they assure you defects were resolved, get it in writing. This protects you if problems resurface. Retain the vehicle history report as evidence of what was represented to you in writing.
3. Get Written Statements On Vehicle Condition
Some states require sellers to disclose known defects upfront. But even without such laws, you can request the seller signs a statement detailing the vehicle’s condition and affirming no known defects. It should note things like accident history, major repairs, component failures, and safety issues. While not foolproof, it creates liability if the seller deceives you about the vehicle’s true condition before the sale.
4. Conduct A Pre-Purchase Inspection
A mechanic’s inspection before finalizing an as-is used car deal can uncover issues the seller may have missed or concealed. Ask for a written inspection report listing any defects or problems found. Bring concerning findings to the seller’s attention in writing and clarify the next steps before completing the purchase. The inspection documents mechanical flaws that existed at the time of sale.
5. Address Promises To Fix Issues
Sometimes a seller will promise to fix defects uncovered by the inspection after the purchase. Do not proceed unless these exact repairs are stipulated in writing, complete with a repair deadline. Vague assurances are not binding. Specifically outlining the promised repairs in the sales contract or a separate repair agreement protects you later on. Make sure promises are in writing before the sale.
6. Review Dispute Resolution Options
Even as-is deals can sometimes specify mediation or arbitration clauses to resolve issues. If available, these alternatives to lawsuits may be faster and cheaper for buyers with issues down the road. Clarify any negotiated dispute terms in writing in the sales contract. If the seller refuses reasonable resolution processes, that’s a red flag. An attorney can advise if binding dispute resolution is a viable recourse option post-sale.
7. Consult A Lemon Law Attorney
Though limited, legal remedies may still exist for as-is used car buyers in certain situations. A lemon law attorney can determine if you have grounds to recover damages if the seller hid defects or lied about the vehicle’s condition. Laws around fraud, unfair and deceptive acts, and breach of contract may provide avenues depending on the evidence. An experienced attorney knows how to build a compelling case using documentation.