Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What does “As-Is” mean in a car deal?

If you just bought a used car from a dealer, you probably signed several documents saying you are purchasing the car “as-is.” What does this mean? It basically means you get what you see. No warranties, no promises.

Does this mean I am stuck with this car?

Well, no. Although the “as-is” clause protects the dealer to some extent, there are still remedies available to the consumer.

1. Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Rejection/Revocation.

The UCC allows the buyer to reject any purchased goods within a reasonable time for inspection. So if you just purchased the car, you may be able to return it and get your money back. If you decide to “reject” the car, you must notify the dealer immediately, and not treat the car as you own. Even after accepting the car, if you later learn that the car is substantially different from what was described or promised, you may be able to revoke your acceptance.

2. Express Warranties

Just because the dealer is selling you the car “as-is” doesn’t mean he can turn around and make all of his promises invalid. If the dealer makes factual promises or representations of the car (such as “this car has 50,000 miles on it” or “we put a new engine it last year”), that is an express warranty that you can hold him to. In most states dealers cannot disclaim express warranties.

3. Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) Disclosures

In Oregon, car dealers are required to make disclosures about certain defects on the cars they sell. The Attorney General’s Official Commentary to the Motor Vehicle Price and Sales Disclosure Rules states:

“Unless explicitly disclosed prior to a sale or lease, a motor vehicle that is offered for sale or lease to the public is represented, either directly or by implication, to be roadworthy when it is sold, to have an unbranded title and to have no undisclosed material defects. . . Examples of negligent disregard of some things that should put a dealer on notice and trigger its duty to disclose might include, but is not limited to, a large pool of oil or antifreeze under the vehicle, dark colored smoke coming from an exhaust pipe, water stains on carpet or doors, a different color paint than the body under the hood or in the trunk or tires that are worn very unevenly.” OAR 137-020-0020(3)(o), Official Commentary.

Check your state’s Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) statute to see if your state provides similar prohibitions.

If you bought a car that is causing you problems, the best thing to do is to contact an attorney and ask about your rights and remedies.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Does Oregon have a 3 day return law for car purchases?

The short answer is no. The 3 day return law (or 3 day right of rescission) generally applies to real estate purchases, and not to vehicles. But that does not mean you are completely out of luck. If you really want to return the car you just bought and get your money back, you may be able to use some of the following methods:

1. Denied financing

If you signed a financing agreement at the dealership, the dealer is likely looking to “sell” the financing contract to a lender under the terms stated. If the dealer cannot find a lender who will approve the financing under those terms, you have the right to cancel the contract. Many dealers don’t know this law, so expect some opposition. They will likely try to pressure you into a new financing agreement with a higher APR and/or monthly payments. 

2. Lemon Law - Trouble with new cars

If it’s a new car you bought, Oregon’s lemon law allows you to bring the car back to the dealer for repairs. If the problem remains after 3 attempts (or 30 days in the repair shop, or 2 attempts to fix a serious safety defect) you have the right to return the car and get your money back.  

3. UCC Rejection/Revocation

The Uniform Commercial Code allows the purchaser the right to reject or revoke any good if it does not conform to the contract. So if the dealer promised you a car with a V-6 engine, but you were given a 4 cylinder engine, you may be able to “undo” the contract and get your money back.

4. Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA)

The UTPA provides the consumer with protections against a wide range of deceptive tactics, some of which include lying about quality of the vehicle, and failure to disclose serious problems. Although the UTPA does not specifically provide a remedy to “undo” the contract, if the problem causes severe reduction to the value of your car, you may be able to get a full rescission. Be prepared to face great opposition from the dealer, as they will attempt to hide behind the “as-is” clause of your contract.

The best thing to do is to contact an attorney who will know how to handle these situations and help you maximize your recovery. If you are determined to go at it alone, just be prepared for long waits and bitter fights. If there’s one thing dealers hate, it’s taking a car back.