“As is” isn’t a license to rip you off on a used car

Dealers can't hide behind an as-is disclaimer when they knew the car was bad

Photo by Jennifer – flickr.com

We get a lot of calls from people who have unknowingly bought cars from dealers with serious defects. Generally, when a car is sold it comes with an “implied warranty” that the car will be fit to drive.

But when a consumer lets the dealer know that the car is no good and they want their money back, the dealer will often insist that the car was sold “as is,” and so it’s “not my problem.” But the dealers don’t understand the law–there are many reasons a buyer will have remedies even when the car is sold as is. I’ll break down a few of them here.

1. The car was sold with a warranty or a service contract. Under federal law, a dealer can’t disclaim “implied warranties” in a sale if it sold the car with a warranty or a service contract. So that means that if a car comes with any type of warranty, including Minnesota’s legally-required warranty for used cars under 75,000 miles, implied warranties may apply.

2. The dealer acted in bad faith. Under Minnesota law, a dealer can’t disclaim implied warranties if it acted in bad faith. This might apply if the dealer knew about the problem with the car and lied about it. Or it tried to cover up the problem, before or after the sale.

3. A dealer can’t get off the hook for specific statements it made about the car. “Express warranties” can never be disclaimed. This means that if the dealer said “the car has never been in an accident,” or “this car is in great condition,” or “the check engine light is only on because the car needs a new oxygen sensor” when it actually needs a new engine, it can’t squirm out of those untrue statements by hiding behind “as is.”

Because the dealer says “as is” is their free pass to lie, cheat and steal, people often think they don’t have a claim for auto fraud when they actually might. If you think you were ripped off by a dealer, get in touch.