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  1. #1
    Bear546 is offline Junior Member
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    My in-laws bought lemon car in California - recourse possible?

    Hi, this case is about a car purchased in California. The car was purchased from a private seller off of Craigslist.

    We saw a posting on Craigslist for a car we were interested in. Met with "Bob" and looked at the car. Bob told us the car was in good working mechanical condition, had "91,000 miles", and passed smog.

    All seems well, so cash and keys change hands and the title is "signed over".

    This week, we take the car to a mechanic who tells us the car is crap. He inspects the car and says that the car actually has 162,000 miles and someone had turned back the odometer. Also, the car instantly fails a smog inspection. The car also has other sever mechanical problems that are expensive to fix.

    I looked over all the documentation and saw that the title wasn't signed by "Bob," but rather by someone named "Jane Doe." So, I guess Bob bought the car from Jane, but never put the title into his name. He then flipped the car to us and it looks like Jane sold us the car, but that's not the case.

    Is there anything we can do to recover our money? Can I sue Bob or take him to court? Are we out of luck? Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. #2
    Antigone* is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear546 View Post
    Hi, this case is about a car purchased in California. The car was purchased from a private seller off of Craigslist.

    We saw a posting on Craigslist for a car we were interested in. Met with "Bob" and looked at the car. Bob told us the car was in good working mechanical condition, had "91,000 miles", and passed smog.

    All seems well, so cash and keys change hands and the title is "signed over".

    This week, we take the car to a mechanic who tells us the car is crap. He inspects the car and says that the car actually has 162,000 miles and someone had turned back the odometer. Also, the car instantly fails a smog inspection. The car also has other sever mechanical problems that are expensive to fix.

    I looked over all the documentation and saw that the title wasn't signed by "Bob," but rather by someone named "Jane Doe." So, I guess Bob bought the car from Jane, but never put the title into his name. He then flipped the car to us and it looks like Jane sold us the car, but that's not the case.

    Is there anything we can do to recover our money? Can I sue Bob or take him to court? Are we out of luck? Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Well, if they can find Bob, then small claims court is the way to go.
  3. #3
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear546 View Post
    Hi, this case is about a car purchased in California. The car was purchased from a private seller off of Craigslist.

    We saw a posting on Craigslist for a car we were interested in. Met with "Bob" and looked at the car. Bob told us the car was in good working mechanical condition, had "91,000 miles", and passed smog.

    All seems well, so cash and keys change hands and the title is "signed over".

    This week, we take the car to a mechanic who tells us the car is crap. He inspects the car and says that the car actually has 162,000 miles and someone had turned back the odometer. Also, the car instantly fails a smog inspection. The car also has other sever mechanical problems that are expensive to fix.

    I looked over all the documentation and saw that the title wasn't signed by "Bob," but rather by someone named "Jane Doe." So, I guess Bob bought the car from Jane, but never put the title into his name. He then flipped the car to us and it looks like Jane sold us the car, but that's not the case.

    Is there anything we can do to recover our money? Can I sue Bob or take him to court? Are we out of luck? Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    All California private party car sales are considered "AS IS" sales. Your in-laws needed to have the condition of the vehicle checked out by the mechanic BEFORE they bought the car and not afterwards. By doing so, they very well may have bought themselves a bad deal.

    You MAY have the ability to do something about the sale if you are able to challenge the title to the car. If "Bob" was the one who sold you the car, then why didn't "Bob" sign the title? Maybe because "Bob" didn't have clear title and lacked the right to sell the car in the first place. If you are to challenge the title, however, you will need to track down "Bob" and get in contact with "Jane Doe" as well to see if she actually signed the title and authorized the sale or if "Bob" did some creating selling (i.e. sold you a car he didn't have the authority to sell you).

    Oh, and YOU can't sue anyone. Your in-laws will have to do it as you were not a party to the transaction and have no standing to sue.
  4. #4
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    It's my understanding that it is completely illegal to sell a car in CA without a smog cert.
  5. #5
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    It's my understanding that it is completely illegal to sell a car in CA without a smog cert.
    It only has to have passed a cert the previous 90 days (which is what you need to immediately register it). The fact that some mechanic subsequently failed it means nothing.

    The odometer tampering however is a fairly serious issue.
  6. #6
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    The car only need be smogged again if the current smog cert is more than 90 days old.

    The OP says that he said smog was current (but doesn't say how old), then said it INITIALLY failed smog (but doesn't mention if it subsequently passed)...

    However, all in all, this is a case of some people who bought a car irresponisbly.

    Oh, and "lemons" apply to new cars. An old car with 90,000 or 162,000 miles on it is just an old car.
  7. #7
    Bear546 is offline Junior Member
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    So, it looks like the best option so far is to have my in-laws take him to small claims court and sue him for selling a car with an odometer that was tampered with?

    Are there any other points we can push?
  8. #8
    Antigone* is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear546 View Post
    So, it looks like the best option so far is to have my in-laws take him to small claims court and sue him for selling a car with an odometer that was tampered with?

    Are there any other points we can push?
    If you can find him. Good luck with that.
  9. #9
    Bear546 is offline Junior Member
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    I'm pretty sure I can track him down, the question is what do I do when I finally track him down face to face?

    What if he skips out on our court date?
  10. #10
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear546 View Post
    I'm pretty sure I can track him down, the question is what do I do when I finally track him down face to face?

    What if he skips out on our court date?
    If he skips out, then as long as you have presented your case with the proper evidence to prove your damages, you will likely win a default judgment against the seller of the car.

    But then, if the guy doesn't show up in court, it's ALSO most likely you will have to chase him down to collect on any judgement you win. The courts can order him to pay, but they don't actually take the money from them - that job falls upon you.

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