What are my legal options if a car dealership doesn’t own up to their mistake?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my legal options if a car dealership doesn’t own up to their mistake?

My wife and I bought a used vehicle and as part of the purchase we got a free oil change. We took it in for service but on our way back noticed a ticking sound. I checked the oil and find out that they had never put oil back in it.

Asked on August 23, 2016 under Business Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if they lied about the oil change to get you to buy the vehicle, and/or agreed to do the change as part of the transaction but did not do the oil change, you could sue them for fraud (lying) or breach of contract (not honoring part of the agreement). If they started doing it but negligently (carelessly) failed to complete (e.g. removed oil, but failed to replace it), you could sue them based on negligence (unprofessional carelessness). But unless your car suffered damage, it is not likely to be worthwhile to sue over the cost an oil change--you'll pay around $50 to file the case, and spend hours of your time. It'd be more reasonable to simply pay for an oil change. The story would be very different if your car suffered damage; then you can sue for the cost to repair, too, which may well make a lawsuit cost effecive.

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