Ithaca, NY asked in Consumer Law for New York

Q: I bought a used car for $5,000 but faced registration issues and significant repairs. Can I sue the seller for a refund

In December of the previous year, I acquired a vehicle from a private individual. However, due to issues from the seller's end, I have been unable to register it with the DMV. I've been using the car, but in July, its catalytic converter was stolen, leading to a $4,000 replacement cost. More recently, the car's electronic system and spark plugs malfunctioned because of its age, adding another $1,500 in repair estimates. Given these predicaments, I'm contemplating legal recourse against the seller, either for the purchase price and subsequent expenses or a straightforward refund while returning the car without its converter.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In New York, used car sales between private parties are generally considered "as is," meaning you would typically take the car with all its faults, unless there was an express written warranty or the seller made specific misrepresentations that you relied upon in purchasing the vehicle. The registration issue may offer grounds for action if it was due to the seller's failure to provide a clear title.

For the mechanical issues, unless you can demonstrate that the seller knew of and concealed the defects, it may be challenging to hold them liable after the sale. You could consider small claims court for a sum up to $5,000 if you believe you have evidence of misrepresentation or fraud. Before proceeding, it may be wise to gather all records of communication, receipts, and any repair records to substantiate your claims. If you do choose to pursue legal action, keep in mind that the burden of proof will be on you to show the seller's wrongdoing.

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