If I sold a working car, what are the buyer’s rights to a refund if it later broke down after he did work on it?

UPDATED: Jun 5, 2011

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If I sold a working car, what are the buyer’s rights to a refund if it later broke down after he did work on it?

I sold my car. The buyer made weekly payments, I allowed him to take the car home so he could do some work on it. He had the car for 2weeks and then called me to say that the transmission had broken and the car was no longer driveable. He asked me to get the car towed back to my house and then he asked for his money back. The car drove just fine when he took it. He is now suing me for a refund (and I have a broken car). I still have title .There is no bill of sale, only signed paper of when he made payments.

Asked on June 5, 2011 under Business Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fundamentally, the issue is when and how did the break down occur:

1) If you sold him a car whose transmission was on the verge of  breakdown, then unless the sale was explicitly "as is" *and*you also made no representations as to driveability, performance, etc., the customer would likely be entitled to a refund--less a reasonable sum for the use he actually made of the car. In essence, you breached the contract by not selling him what he was paying for (a working car).

2) If the damage occured later, obviously then you are liable or responsible.

In this case, since the customer had the car for two weeks, he should not get those two weeks of money back. If you think that the transmission might have been broken or about to break when sold, you might consider taking the car back and not charging him the rest of the sale. Otherwise, if you want the sale to stand and he wants a refund and to cancel it, you'll probably be in litigation.

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