Can I Sue A Private Dealer For Selling Me A Bad Car

Posted in Crank, Oil and Piston

I bought a used 1994 Pontiac Sunbird from a guy that I found on Craigslist for $1250. The car looked and ran good during my test drive. When we got back to his house to fill out the paperwork, he told me that the only problems was that it needed new tires and the gas hand floats. 3 days later I’m driving to school and I notice that the check oil light came on, I stopped, put a quart of oil in and it went off. 4 days later it happened again, so I call the guy and ask him about it and he told me that he “forgot” to mention that it had an oil leak and that it was an easy fix. Fast forward 2 weeks later I was drivng home and noticed that the car wasn’t stopping like it should. The next day I go to a mechanic to get it checked out and found out that the back drum brakes was installed backwards and that the front rotors and pads was damn near wore down to nothing, resulting in an $800 dollar estimate and a $300 dollar repair (I just got the front redone). 3 weeks after the brake fiasco, I’m once again driving home and the car starts blowing out smoke from under the car and under the hood and just turns off in the middle of rush hour traffic on the freeway, thankfully I was able to coast it to the side. I had it towed to a GM dealership that was close by and was told the true colors of this car. First off the radiator had a hole in it and instead of fixing it, the old owner some how rigged the fan to stay on all the time to keep the engine cool, and the wires that he used got hot and melted through and the fan stopped working meaning the car couldn’t cool itself. Secondly the oil cap in the engine that you unscrew to do oil changes was not properly screwed back on and it broke, letting oil spill on the engine. and lastly one of the spark plug wires was Duct-Taped (seriously) and spray painted black so it couldn’t be detected, and the tape melted also causing it to fail. Now I don’t know what to do, because I have not been able to go to class for 2 weeks now and i’ve had to use up almost all of my personal time at work because of this. So I want to know if I can sue the guy for not disclosing this before I paid for the car.

There are 9 Answers for "Can I Sue A Private Dealer For Selling Me A Bad Car"

    1. Hello says:


    2. SkyDog says:


      Sorry, but that is why buying guides all suggest you take any prospective car to a trusted mechanic, if you are not savvy enough to do it yourself, to give it a thorough inspection before you consider purchasing the vehicle. Consider it a very expensive lesson in car buying and look into buying a bus pass or bicycle.

      As for school, if you wanted to go bad enough you’d find a way to get there.

    3. Howard L says:

      What do you mean by a private dealer? Ordinarily any used car is sold “as is” unless it came with a written warranty and you have no legal recourse whatsoever. It’s a case of buyer beware and it was your reponsibility to inspect the car before buying.

      There might be one exception, that is if the person who sold you the car was a dealer posing as a private seller. That practice is known as “curbstoning”. It is illegal in most places and if you bought your car from a curbstoner there is a possibility that you can sue for fraud. Contact your states consumer protection agency and ask if there is anything you can do where this happened.

    4. alfredb1979 says:

      Not at all.

      Just like how you did not do your homework in buying this car, you can not pin this on the seller for doing the same. It is your $1250, you decided that a test drive was all you needed to accept the car AS IS.

      I am not sure what possesses anyone to think a 16-year old car “looked and ran good” on that alone…

      Good luck.

    5. STEWIE says:

      Dude, you bought a 17 year old car. Cars are not like wine, they dont get better with age, they get worse. Buying a car for $1250 is like buying a TV at a garage sale for $10. If it stops working after 3 weeks would u sue the seller? You bought it AS-IS with no warranty whatsoever!!!!

      This is why you need a mechanic to inspect the vehicle BEFORE u hand over ur cash. If u choose not to because ur a cheapskate then u took a gamble and lost.

      Again, u bought a junk 17 year old car for $1250…… if u sue u will lose another day of work and court fees and the judge will scold u for being an idiot.

    6. cjrossi says:

      Three Words.




    7. xx_satanic_mechanic_xx says:

      Can you sue? ABSOLUTELY! In the US you can bring any civil dispute before a judge for a ruling.

      Will you win? HECK NO.

      Everything that is wrong with the car today was either wrong when you bought it, or happened after. You could have spent the money for a professional opinion, but you didnt. You went on your on inspection and look at all the things you missed. Rather than being out $100, you are out $1250 + repairs.

      Fix your car, and take this lesson

    8. Richard H says:

      Consult a lawyer for a professional opinion. I doubt that any of the laymen here would actually know what they are talking about.