Having Used Car Problems? Read On.

Is there a way to get out of a bad car deal and not having to damage my credit?

I just got into a really bad deal recently. I'm financing an 02 Mazda 626 at 15.50% and my payoff is around $11,000 and the car has tons of problem and it is only been a month. I just want to know if there is any ways to get out of this and not having to damage my credit.

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Bill's Answer
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Highlights


  • Vehicle purchase agreements do not include a cooling-off period.
  • State lemon laws deal with vehicles still under the manufacturer warranty.

Frequently consumers who have purchased a used car soon realize that the vehicle’s mechanical condition is not as impeccable as the dealer led them to believe. Unfortunately, you usually cannot return the vehicle and expect to receive a refund of the purchase price.

Generally speaking, automobile purchase agreements do not include a “cooling-off” or return period, so the dealership will likely not allow you to return the vehicle for a refund your money. However, since you are experiencing mechanical problems with the vehicle, federal and state law may provide you some protection. The first thing you should do, if you have not already done so, is contact the dealership that sold you the vehicle, to explain the problems you are experiencing and to ask what the dealership will do to repair the vehicle. Since you purchased the vehicle 30 days ago, hopefully the car is still under some sort of warranty, even if it is only a short-term warranty provided by the dealership. If the car is still under warranty, the dealership should repair it at little or no cost to you. If the dealership refuses to repair the vehicle despite the warranty, or if the vehicle is not covered by a warranty, you should research your state’s “lemon law” to find what recourse is available to you. Lemon laws are a type of state law designed to prevent consumers from being stuck with a vehicle with persistent problems.

Most state lemon laws deal with vehicles that are still under manufacturer warranty. However, many states also include a provision to protect consumers who have purchased used vehicles. Visit CarLemon.com to find if your state’s lemon law applies to used vehicles, and if so, what protections it provides.

If you find that your purchase is covered by your state’s lemon law, but the dealership continues to refuse to repair or replace the vehicle, you should contact your state Attorney General’s consumer protection division to discuss the options available to you. You may also want to consult with an attorney to discuss your legal rights and the legal recourse available to you. Even if your state’s lemon law does not apply to used vehicles, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for fraud if the dealership misrepresented mechanical condition of the vehicle. Again, you should consult with an attorney familiar with consumer protection law to discuss the legal options available to you.

I wish you the best of luck in resolving the issues you are experiencing with your vehicle.

I hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

43 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Apr, 2013
    Danny
    I purchased a vehicle from a dealership I was under the impression that I had paid them in full for the down-payment, now 8 months later I have taken my truck in for repair. The repair company says that the dealer is willing to pay for the repair since they did not tell us that the wiring system was not a part of the extended warranty, but they will not release my truck to me until I pay them the $285.00 that I was not aware that I still owe them since there has been no communication in 8 months about a balance due. Can they legally withhold my truck from me?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2013
      Bill
      I can't give you legal advice, as only a lawyer can, but I will share some thoughts with you.

      If I understand you correctly, it appears a third-party repair shop seized your vehicle on behalf of a dealership that claims you are in default on a loan. If that's what happened here, the answer to your question is "No, the third party has no claim to your vehicle and may not place a mechanics lien on your vehicle and withhold it from you." Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience to learn more about your rights, and how to retrieve the vehicle from the repair shop.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2013
    Kendra
    My husband and I bought a used 2003 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer Edition with 92,000 miles from El Cajon Mitsubishi in February 2013. We took it for a test drive and the salesman was telling us it was a good car had nothing wrong with it and very low mileage. The car has a warranty on it from the dealership. We liked it and it ran beautiful so we decided to get it. We payed the down payment and signed the contract. As we were driving it off the lot at night my husband noticed the interior lights would not go off and the information screen was saying door was ajar when all doors were closed. We asked them to look at it and they said it was just a sensor and they would replace it, all we had to do was make an appointment with the service department. The next day I was taking my kids to school and the passenger window was making a loud noise and would not go down properly or go back up without someone pulling on it. We talked to the dealership and made an appointment with the service department. However, we took it in on our appointment day and when we picked it up they said they could not replace the sensor because Ford has to do it and it would cost us $60 for a new one. They said the window was off the track and is why it was acting the way it was and that we would have to take it to Ford to fix that as well and it would cost us around $350. These are problems that should have been fixed before the car was put on the lot for sale but they were not. The car is also saying low oil pressure all the time and that the engine needs to be serviced. We were assured the car was in proper working order before we bought it and now we see we were lied to about the condition of the care. I don't want to be responsible for making payments on a car that has problems with it when there should have been none. What are my options?? Can I return it for a full refund?? Is the dealership responsible for fixing these problems??
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2013
      Bill
      Review the warranty the dealership provided to learn what items the dealership promised to fix. The document you signed plus the salesman's promises determine what costs you or the dealership will bear in repairing the vehicle. If the dealership is now backpedaling on the promises it made in its warranty, then consult with a lawyer who has consumer law experience to learn your rights, including whether you can return the car.

      For the benefit of other readers, Kendra's tale illustrates why it is a good idea to let a mechanic you hire inspect a vehicle before purchase.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2012
    James
    I purchased a car from dealer with a 90 day warranty. The car lost power on the freeway, within the 90 days. I called dealer and I paid to tow it in. One month later, after they fixed it, the car broke down again. They had it towed in and did the same repair. 2 weeks later, the same problem. Twice this car lost power on the freeway, My wife had to avoid oncoming cars trying not to have a accident. The car lost power on me, driving past a school with kids out crossing the street. Every time this happens and is a safety issue, we have told them each time this has happened when we have taken the GMC back.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2012
      Bill
      Check with your state's office of Consumer Protection, usually part of the State Attorney General's office, to find out your rights. The fact that the problem initially occurred during the time you were covered by the warranty is helpful to you, in terms of getting a long-term solution worked out.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Kaycee
    I bought a car in 2012 in Oregon, hasn't even been a month. The car broke down after 5 days of driving it. There is no warranty and it was an as is purchase but the seller i talked to said that he has "driven the car" that it "is a great car" and that "it runs great." We took it for a test drive and there was nothing wrong with it, it ran great. But 5 days later it stalled when my husband was driving home for work. It went from 45 to 0 in 2 seconds, didn't sputter, didn't give any sign, just died. It hurt my husband's shoulder, and had my 4-month-old been in the car she could have been seriously injured. Is there any way i can legally make them pay for repairs? I know Oregon's Lemon law doesn't cover used cars without warranties, but i read something about them having to make sure it passes emissions for 30 days?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Consult with an Oregon lawyer who has experience in litigating consumer law. Tiny details matter in cases like these. The statements you shared may create an implied warranty, but it depends on the context of the conversation, and whether any of these statements were in response to your questions about the vehicle's reliability.

      For the benefit of other readers, Kaycee's message shows why it is important for used-car buyers to take a vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a general inspection before buying. I have no idea what could be wrong with Kaycee's vehicle, and it is possible even the most detailed inspection would not have revealed the sudden deceleration issue. But then again, maybe it would have. I am also a big believer in Carfax, which shows the vehicle's history and clues to its reliability.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Kalelah
    I bought a 2006 chevy monte carlo yesterday. The battery died as soon as I got home, so the dealer fixed it. Now only a day later the sunroof is messing up. I've only had the car roughly 24 hrs and already experiencing multiple problems. Since I traded my previous car to them for this one, can I take this car back and trade it back in for my old one?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Yes, but do not expect the transaction to happen for free, unless your state has a lemon law that covers used cars.

      Your message is a good reminder for me to repeat the advice offered by the well-known car repair experts "Click and Clack": Before you buy a car, take it to your mechanic for a check-up. A simple test would have revealed the weak battery, for example.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Jason
    I bought a used 2006 Grand Cherokee exactly two weeks ago. Upon buying the car they said a tpm sensor was cracked and needed to be replaced. They replaced the sensor free of charge and calibrated it. A day later the illumination for my temperature controls was gone. Upon looking at it myself I found that three bulbs were burnt out which are soldered to a electrical board that would need to be replaced as a whole unit. Dealer said would cost $284 that I would have to pay because manufacturers warranty had expired. Yesterday a sway bar link snapped and has to be replaced. I know most of these problems are normal "wear and tear" , but this is ridiculous. What are my options for what I should do if the dealership is unwilling to fix all these? (I have a 60 day 3,000 mile warranty currently with them)
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      If the dealership does not honor its warranty, then you have two options: do nothing and pay for the repairs from your own pocket, or file a lawsuit against the dealership.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Rob
    I bought a 2002 Durango, and test drove it before buying and could not find any flaws to the vehicle. I purchased the car in NH and live in VT. so I had to drive it home. From the dealership to my home is roughly 200 miles. I guess that I might have made it 150 miles and the car just started making noises form the engine as if one of the pistons blew (I'm no mechanic just speculating)I could see the RPM gauge was pusing to the 3000 mark but the car wasn't going faster then 40-45 miles per hour. I got the vehicle off at the next exit and parked at a park and ride. Even though I bought the vehicle as is. Do I still have a case to get my money back or be compensated for the repairs, because the dealer sold the car implying the car was in great condition, and the fact that the vehicle didn't even make it a distance of 200 miles from where it was purchased?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      I cannot address any state laws that may apply here because I have not studied New Hampshire law on this matter.

      Under common law, if the dealer made promises about the reliability of the vehicle, such as "This engine will go for another 50,000 miles before you need to even look at it," or "This vehicle will be very reliable," then you may have an implied warranty argument in your favor. On the other hand, if the dealer made general claims about vehicle that did not imply the engine would not fail after 150 miles, then I do not see a case.

      Consult with a lawyer in your state or New Hampshire who has consumer law experience, tell him or her about any claims the dealer made, and review the contract you signed.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Amir
      Even if the contract states that vehicle is sold as is "and disclaims all warranties either expressed or implied"
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      I think your question was cut off. I will assume you were about to ask if you have any recourse with a dealer if a vehicle purchase contract contains as-is language. The answer is "it depends." Did the dealer tell you things like, "There is nothing wrong with this vehicle," or "This vehicle is very reliable," or "We stand behind our vehicles." Or, did you ask the dealer for his or her most reliable vehicle, and he or she point the one you bought out to you? If outright or implied promises were made about a vehicle's reliability by the dealer, then the as-is language in the written contract will carry less meaning to a judge.

      Consult with a consumer lawyer in your state to learn more about your state's consumer protection laws.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2012
      Vicki
      This happened to my daughter as well. She purchased a 2003 Dodge Durango 2-29-12 and drove it a total of 4 times before finding out that there was a heavy weight oil put in to mask the problem with the engine. The used car dealership now wants her to pay to replace the engine. But, the Carfax that they provided her with says that this vehicle is in good condition and reliable. Does she have a case to return the car. This is in VA.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2012
      Bill
      Depends on the facts of the case. Did the dealer make promises about the condition of this particular Durango, and specifically, the engine? If so, I think your daughter may have an argument for an implied warranty. Consult with a Virginia lawyer to learn more.

      Readers, Vicki's letter is a good reminder to always have someone who is knowledgeable about vehicles, such as a car mechanic, inspect a vehicle before buying it. A quick check of the dipstick would have revealed the thick oil someone added to mask a problem.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Brad
    My girlfriend and I purchased a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee from a dealership. Part of their offer was that they would replace the fluids and brakes. I did not ask what specifically with the fluids would be replaced. The first weekend we had the vehicle the oil pressure was maxed out. I had to replace the oil sending unit. I bought from AutoZone and replaced myself. Less than 60 days later, the Air Bag light goes on. We take it in, they tell us that a $400 sensor plus labor to fix it as well as the transmission fluid is dirty and needs to be flushed and the transmission lines are leaky and need to be replaced. They want to charge us over $1200 to complete all these mechnical issues. I have spoken with the service department and the sales department about the fluid and leaky transmission. Unfortunately, they are not compromising on this mechanical issue. They state that these issues are not required to be part of the offer. They say they inspected the vehicle thoroughly before selling it to us but I suspect they didn't. They received the vehicle in the same day we looked at it and released the vehicle to us the next day. The vehicle was also missing the spare tire and the drivers seat was broken on the right side. I had to fight with them to get these things fixed and replaced. Do I have a case to stand my ground and insist that at least the tranmission issues be fixed at no cost? Thank you.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Regarding the leaky transmission line diagnosis, take the vehicle to an independent mechanic to learn if they really need replacement. I'm not a mechanic, but have owned quite a few vehicles, and rarely have I seen transmission lines wear out. Leak, yes, requiring tightening but wear out, no.

      Did the dealer give you a guarantee or promise the vehicle would be problem free? If so, you have a viable argument you can present to a court. If not, then you bought the vehicle as-is, and the problems you described are not the dealer's liability, in my opinion.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    joe
    I bought a 2007 Nissan Murano 3 days ago. when i bought it i asked about the brakes and the salesman said they would look at them and all their vehicles go through a 152 point inspection. I got home and the back brake is almost gone. I called and the service department guy told me they did not perform the 152 point inspection on the car due to the fact they just got the car in and the service dept was closed that day. what can i do and if they do inspect it will they fix any problems that arise from the inspection if their are any?
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Take two steps. First, try to get the dealer to do the inspection and agree to fix any problems. Second, don't delay in calling your state's Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection division. There may be specific laws in your state governing used car sales. Find out your rights ASAP.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Gayla
    I purchased a 2004 Range Rover from an independant dealer and I took the vehicle to the franchise Range Rover dealer for a diagnostic test. Come to find out that transmission needs to be replaced along with other items. I have only had the car for 18 days and the dealer is not being cooperative at this time stating that there is nothing that no one can do to help. Please lead me in a direction that will allow me to get this problem taken care of. I put 5,000 down and have a loan for 18,000...i can not afford a 5,500 transmission replacement!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      What promises or guaranty or warranty did the independent dealer provide? Bring your bill of sale and other documents to a lawyer who specializes in consumer law to learn if you have any recourse.

      This does little to help you now, but your anecdote illustrates why car experts like Click & Clack advise people buying a used car to bring it to a mechanic for before signing on the dotted line. A pre-purchase inspection decreases the odds of buying someone else's problem.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    socko
    3 days ago i bought a used Acura TL, and i remember signing a paper that showed i bought an "As Is" car, and now i find out the radiator is burning or leaking radiator fluid. Do I have any case here or no?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      Do you have a case? Maybe. If the car salesperson made claims about the reliability or condition of the car that were definite and somewhat precise, then you may have a case. For example, if he or she said, "This car is in perfect shape, and you will not have to do anything to it," then those statements are a promise or a warranty. However, if he or she said something like, "Acura's are made by Honda, and Honda's have the best reliability in the business," then that is not a statement of warranty about that particular car.

      Or, if you told the salesperson, "I need a very reliable car. Which is your best?" and he or she showed you the Acura, then that is an implied warranty.

      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience if either of the scenarios I shared here seems to fit your facts.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2011
    Melinda
    I bought an 86 Cadillac Eldorado from a friend (I know that was my first mistake). They asked $2,000 for it. I paid them $1,100 of it with arrangement to pay the rest off over a couple of months. They said the only thing wrong with the car was the battery and they would compensate us for a new one and to let them know if anything else was wrong. A couple days after we got the car home we found that they had put new brake shoes over a very rusted brakes system. I needed the car for work I lived an hour and a half from my job. Because of this I lost my job and a considerable income. We had to replace the master cylinder, the brake lines, calipers, etc. Soon after we had problems with a coil, had to do a tune up, replaced tires and rims, now the transmission is slipping. We have the title for the car already but they have threatened to come take the car back if I don't pay, I offered to sell them the car back for the price paid plus the new things we had to put on and they said they would take the car without giving us any money. Are we still obligated to pay for the car?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      The answer to your implied and actual questions depends on the facts surrounding the sale.
      • Did you tell the seller you needed the car for a 90-minute commute? Or, did they otherwise know that?
      • Aside from the battery, did the seller promise the car was otherwise in good condition?
      • Exactly what words did they use regarding the promise to fix whatever else was wrong with the vehicle?
      • Did someone test or inspect the vehicle before you purchased it? If so, who, and what was in the report?
      • Do you have a written contract for the vehicle sale?

      Take your answers to a lawyer in your state who has experience with contract or consumer law. You may have an implied warranty issue cause of action against the seller. A lawyer will, after reviewing the facts, explain your rights and liabilities.

      If you cannot afford an attorney, call your county bar association and ask for the name of the organization that provides no-cost legal services to people in your area with low or no income. Make an appointment with that organization and bring all of the documents, receipts, and notes you have regarding the vehicle to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will advise you accordingly.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2010
    carisa
    I resently bought a 2005 mazda rx-8 , it is 2 months old and 1000 miles over the 30days/or 1000 miles which ever came first warrenty. and it is dead in the driveway, the dip stick to the oil is covered in this milky foam, like curded choc milk,I bought it from a dealership used. can I some how get them to help me fix this car or am I out of luck? please give me some advice,I dont know what or how to go to for help.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2010
      Bill
      You have nothing to lose by asking the dealership to help with the cost of the repair.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Mrs.
    I purchased a used 08 Suburban for a the chevy dealership. And since the purchase the truck shakes when I drive it between 55-75 miles per hour. I have taken it to the dealer for repairs several times but the problem still exist. They made us purchase new tires, saying that would fix it but the problem still exist. Several force balances and tire rotations have been done but still the same problem. The truck is still under warrenty, and Its been 6 months now that I have been dealing with this issue, am I supose to keep taking it back for them to do the same thing and the problem still exist?? Or do I have other options.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2010
      Bill
      I am not a mechanic, but even I know a vibration problem that occurs between 55-75 MPH should be easy to diagnose and repair. If the dealership cannot fix the problem, tell the dealership you want the problem elevated to the regional office or Detroit where engineers can drive the vehicle and experience the problem first hand.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Patrick
    Shame on me, but I recently purchased a used Porsche 911 Turbo from what looked like a reputable higher end used car dealer without having it reviewed by a mechanic first. 6 weeks later (didn't drive it much) I took it to a Porsche dealer to have the car looked at and oil changed since the oil level light came on. Well..... The engine is leaking oil significantly. One of the radiators is busted and leaking coolant. They had the wrong sized rear tires on the car! It is also so badly out of alignment that the insides of the rear tires are worn to the cords. The radio antenae connection is busted (no reception). In short, other than looking great the car is a disaster. Since it doesn't enter the same lemon law rulings (same problem over and over) is there anything that would afford me legal protection here in Pennsylvania?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2010
      Bill
      Did the dealer make statements about the vehicle's condition before you purchased it? If the dealer stated the vehicle was in excellent shape, did not need any work, the tires have a lot of life on them, did not leak any oil, etc., then you have an implied warranty argument. However, if the dealer was careful and made no claim to the vehicle's condition, then I do not see a cause of action available to you.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    James
    Those kind of deals sucks! Recently I bought a second hand car and the mechanics told me that the car is okay so I believe because I don't know anything about cars. After a week theignition wire got busted. Someone told me that it needs replacement. I'm very frustrated.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2010
    Richard
    Don't know if you're in California, but if you need some resources for Lemon Laws.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Bill
    I am not aware of any states with "Lemon Laws" for used cars. You have two options: Repair the car or trade it in.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Kelly
    I recently purchased a used car. Within the first week I noticed some serious problems with the car.When you first start the car after it has been sitting for a few hours ( no matter what time of the day) the car starts shaking and when you put the car in reverse it feels like the car is going to come apart. It stays like this until the car has completely warmed up( about 30 to 40 mintues) then is just drives rough. My husband and I went to the dealership where we bought the car and explained to the manager (twice) what was happening. He listened to the car and said that he thought it just needed a tune up. I suggested that I thought it was something worse then that but that I would take the car to a repair place. If it turns out that there is something seriously wrong with it(motor or transmission) that I want them to pay for the repairs or let me give the car back. I noticed that the WA state Lemon law seems to only apply to new cars. What should I do with this used car? I asked for an warrity when I purchased the car but was told that my 2004 Ford Focus did not have this option. Can you give us any advice? Am I stuck with this car? I have only had this car for less then 30 days and each day it I am seriouly worried that it will leave me stranged on the side of the road.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Bill
    The list of places where your car may have a short-circuit or devices that may be draining it is almost endless. I suggest you ask Click and Clack at Car Talk.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Richard
    I have a 1995 4dr, 4 cyl,AT, 115,000 miles. every morning car battery is low and won,t start car. Car is kept in a garage. I,ve tried unplugging most fuses in fuse box. The only thing that works is disconecting battery. What could be draining battery overnite? Thanks for your help. Rich Holman
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    Bill
    You will have to see if the sale agreement has a clause where they will repair any faults if they happen in the first few days of the sale, but this is unlikely and I think that they will bill you to get it fixed.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2009
    david
    my girlfriend bought a used car and its only been 3 days since she had it and the check engine light came on..she called the place where she bought it they told her that one of her sencers under the hood got wet see as how they know this with out her taking the car there.. what can we do to get this problem solved?? do we have to fix it or seeing how they know whats wrong will they fix it??
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      Mark
      The check engine light may concern emissions controls. I am not Click & Clack, but I don't think automotive engineers designed any sensor that can get wet and cause the check engine light to come on. It can be an exhaust issue, oxygen sensors, fuel mixture, loose fuel cap, clogged air filter, and so on, but without seeing the car, the mechanic who told you "a sensor under the hood got wet" is handing you a line of baloney. Take the car to a real mechanic who will inspect the vehicle in person for a proper diagnosis.

      Did the seller offer a warranty with the vehicle? Did the seller make any promises about the condition of the vehicle? If so, return the vehicle to the seller for repair.
      0 Votes