Legal Question in Consumer Law in Pennsylvania

Would this fall under the unfair and deceptive acts and practices law? I bought I used car yesterday. They told me they sell used cars "as is" but if there is a major problem they make the buyer aware before purchase. I test drove the car and checked fluids and everything checked out. I bought the car and took it to be inspected today. They told me that the light bulb had been removed for the check engine light so that it would not come on. The check engine light should have been on because two of the cylinders are misfiring. This would be a major problem to fix and they hid it by removing the bulb.

Asked on 4/03/13, 3:55 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

"As is" means just that - as is, i.e., the car with no lightbulb and a check engine light problem. It gives car dealers (almost) a license to lie and they push the envelope.

In your case though, IF you can prove that the car dealer that sold you the car deliberately removed the lightbulb so that the engine light would not come on, that is crossing the line into deliberate fraud. But proving that may be difficult.

Where did they get the car? When? What kind of inspection did the dealer do? If the bulb was removed by a prior owner then maybe the dealer did not know. Is this something that a dealer would know to look for? I don't know because I am not a mechanic. Why did you buy the car BEFORE you had it inspected by your mechanic? Did you have a reasonable opportunity to inspect the car? You are not a car mechanic and just doing a test drive is not a substitute for having it inspected. If you could have had it inspected and did not, then you might be stuck. Talk to a consumer lawyer in your area. Maybe the lawyer can write a letter to the car dealer and threaten a lawsuit under the unfair trade practices act which, if you prevail, lets you be awarded up to 3 times your damages. The threat of a lawsuit might be enough for the car dealer to give you your money back and pick on someone else.

Next time, get it inspected by your mechanic before you buy and get a car fax report. If you do these two things, it will not guarantee you success but you will go a long way towards eliminating it.

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Answered on 4/04/13, 9:19 pm

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