"As is" does not justify dealer fraud

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Purchasing a used vehicle is always a risk, especially when the dealer offers no warranty. Even a vehicle that looks clean and sound and operates well on a test drive may have hidden defects that do not show up until after the California consumer has driven it for a while. One woman in another state fell victim to dealer fraud after purchasing a truck "as is." Without a warranty, she had no option but to take her complaint to civil court.

The case went to the highest court in the state, but each appeal found in favor of the woman who paid a used car dealer nearly $13,000 for a pickup truck. The woman had concerns about the check engine light and smoke coming from the exhaust during the test drive, but the salesman assured her they were easy fixes and even offered to make the repairs if she brought the truck back later in the week. He offered no warranty but assured the customer she could easily obtain a third-party warranty.

After purchasing the truck, the woman attempted to obtain the warranty but learned that the dealer had bought the truck from a salvage yard for half what she had paid for it. The truck was soon undriveable because the dealer had allegedly made some cosmetic changes and enough mechanical repairs to get the vehicle through a test drive. The salesman apparently believed that by selling the vehicle "as is," he would protect himself from any legal action the woman might take if the truck broke down.

The man was wrong. The district court all the way to the state's supreme court sided with the woman, ruling that dealer fraud voids an "as is" purchase. This case may encourage any California consumer to seek legal assistance when faced with an unscrupulous car dealer.

Source: mprnews.org, "MN Supreme Court: 'Fraud' invalidates 'as is' car sales", Bob Collins, March 21, 2018

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