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Understanding Express and Implied Warranties When Used Car Shopping

May 18, 2015

I recently purchased a used vehicle in Pennsylvania after the dealer promised me that the parts were “like new.”

One month later, the fuel system and transmission needed to be replaced. What can I do?

Under Pennsylvania laws, buyers and sellers of used automobiles are typically bound by the language contained in the purchase agreement. During any sale for the purchase of goods, sellers often make promises—known as “express warranties”—that may be binding upon proof of the conversation. However, in most scenarios, it is difficult for parties to prove exactly what was said at the time of purchase—prompting most courts to rely solely on the written language in the agreement.

Express warranties that are listed in the purchase agreement will be binding on the seller, regardless of what the he or she claims was said during the exchange. In this scenario, an express warranty guaranteeing “like new” parts will undoubtedly work in the favor of the buyer in the event of a breakdown shortly after purchase. If the warrant contains a time or mileage limit, this will control over any oral promises to contrary as well.

One crucial component of a used car purchase agreement is the “as is” clause. Many times, car dealers make wild promises to entice the buyer to make a purchase, only to throw in an “as is” clause, preventing the buyer from making any claims for repairs after purchase. In many cases, buyers will be stuck with this clause, and will be required to make costly repairs themselves. However, if the buyer can prove that the seller somehow engaged in conduct to hide or diminish the “as is” clause during the transaction, the court may rule it unenforceable and require the seller to make necessary repairs.

Lastly, a concept known as “implied warranties of merchantability” may apply to the situation, which warrants the vehicle is fit for its particular purpose (i.e., driving). If the purchase agreement is silent as to the implied warranties, the buyer may be able to sue for damages under this concept, unless the seller has disclaimed this warranty—which must be clearly stated on the purchase agreement in 20-point font and clearly affixed to the window of the vehicle.

If you are facing a difficult situation following a recent used vehicle purchase, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney today!

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