Am I required to disclose problems which happened to a previous owner of an automobile if I personally never had any problems?

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Am I required to disclose problems which happened to a previous owner of an automobile if I personally never had any problems?

I sold a used car which I owned for 2 years with no problems. It had 2 engine light codes which I listed in the ad. Previous owner was my mom and I didn’t know she had any problems with the car. I handed all her repair records to buyer without ever looking at them, they showed stalling problems. Now new buyer is saying I misled him because it’s stalling on him and wants to sue. Am I responsible to disclose any info from previous owners? The car is 13 years old and has 106,000 miles on it. All previous repairs were done by dealership and buyer got carfax before buying but it did not have detail.

Asked on June 3, 2012 under General Practice, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you knew, or reasonably should have known (e.g. any reasonable seller in your position would have known) of the problems and you failed to disclose them, that could constitute fraud. While it is not certain that, were this matter to go to trial, a court would conclude that you should have known of the problem, it's certainly possible the court would: given that the repair records, which were in your possession, showed the stalling problems, it may be that a court would hold that you should have reviewed them prior to selling the vehicle. Therefore, while it is impossible to state the outcome of any lawsuit with certainty, there is at least a a not-unreasonable chance that the buyer could make out a fraud claim, based on the evidence in the repair records which had been in your possession, as well as based on the fact that it had been your mother's car (e.g. it's reasonable that she might have told you something about it).


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