What to Do If You Buy a Used Vehicle From a Dealer and It Breaks Down

This scenario is very common. You look for a used car with a high mileage that looks fine from the outside. You think that it would be an excellent decision to purchase this vehicle since it’s fine mechanically.

However, the real problem is that you are not a mechanic, and the dealer assured you that they had done the inspection and everything is completely fine. You decided to trust this guy, signed all the paperwork, and purchased the car.

Just a few days later, the vehicle broke, and you took it to the nearest mechanic. You discovered that your car needs some essential repairs and is quite expensive. Now, you contact your dealer and ask him to make repairs or take it back.

Unfortunately, the dealer doesn’t cooperate and leaves you on your own to fix the issue.

If you face a similar situation, you will probably be looking for available options at your hand. Well, it depends on various factors. Continue reading to know where you stand and what options do you have:

Lemon Law


According to lemon law, dealers and manufacturers must repair non-conformities in the vehicle within the specific time and mileage thresholds. However, Lemon law does not do anything for the purchase of used vehicles. It applies only to the purchase of new vehicles.


Whether your dealer has the responsibility to repair your vehicle or not depends on the vehicle’s warranty coverage. Typically, there are two types of warranties:

1) Express Warranties

Express warranties mean that the dealer spells out/expresses the terms, usually in the form of writing.

The dealer will mention what repairs will be covered, the warranty length, consumer’s duties, any settlement mechanism available, etc. So, if you had an express warranty, depending upon what is written and signed, you may get the full repair, half repair, or complete refund or replacement.

If the dealer still denies the service or refund, state and federal laws can protect you from this type of mistreatment.

2) Implied Warranties

Implied warranties mean that law imposes/implies a warranty even if the dealer has not allowed this warranty.

In implied warranties, unless disclaimed by writing “as is” or “with all faults,” sold vehicles are always subject to two warranties i-e Implied Warranty of Merchantability and Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose.

With these two warranties, you can claim a refund, repair, or replacement.

In most cases, dealers will sell the vehicle with “as is” that shows no implied warranties. Still, there can be exceptions to disclaimer warranties even “if as” is written on the contract.

Other Legal Options

False Advertisement

Card sold “as is” doesn’t allow the dealer to do false advertising or fraud to sell the vehicle. Suppose the dealer advertised that the vehicle is in perfect condition and has no problem, and later you find that it has a rusted bottom.

In that case, the dealer will still be liable for false advertisements. Here it is not about the warranty, instead, it is about the dealer who lied to you for making a sale.

Disclosure Law Violation

While a used vehicle is purchased, the dealer must disclose the Federal Used Car Buyers Guide. It helps the consumers know the important information about the vehicle. Moreover, the dealer must also disclose mileage and finance (if the car is financed).

If the dealer hadn’t shown you the Federal Used Car Buyers Guide, you could claim repair based on disclosure law violation.

Do Not Miss Any Key Information Before Buying

When a dealer refuses to cooperate, your rights are violated, and you have to prove it. If you fail to prove it, you cannot have a repair or refund.

The general rule is that if “everything should be in writing.” If you fail to write things in a contract, it isn’t easy to prove.

So, always check the buyer guide, have background work, and document everything in writing such as return policy, payment options, implied and express warranties, service contracts before making a purchase.

1 thought on “What to Do If You Buy a Used Vehicle From a Dealer and It Breaks Down”

  1. why was my used car porchase not been allowed to the debt cancellation option the contract says n/a and any return whether in two days or 60 days was not offered or mentioned yet the dealer had me sing the contract and when i tried to take it back the dealer said it was over 250 miles and that i just needed to make extra payments
    they are very intimidating at Katgenie in montclair,ca

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