Can I Get My Money Back - Used Car in Florida

by Rosario from Orlando, Florida, Orange County

On April 16, I financed a used vehicle from a used car lot. I was in a big emergency and needed a car immediately & didn't have time to test drive it. I signed the papers and gave $700 down payment.


The rest was financed by the dealer. As I drove away I noticed the car was jerking a little and stalling but I figured it was because it needed gas (it was on empty).

I filled the tank and drove off I tried to turn the AC on but it didn't work so I called the sales guy at the dealer and he told me he could have some freon installed during the weekend.

I agreed and kept driving home but on my way I could still feel the car stalling and not driving properly so I called a friend and they suggested I go get the oil changed.

I did that as well but when the mechanic checked the car he told me that there was transmission fluid in the motor and that it was going to break down soon. Then I asked him to check the AC and he also said it wasn't freon it needed but that the compressor was damaged as well. He told me it would cost me more to repair the vehicle than what the vehicle was worth.

I immediately called the the dealer again and spoke to the sales guy again and told him that I wanted my money back because this car didn't work. Then he told me that he couldn't do that and that it was my problem now that, that was the vehicle I had chosen and that I would have to deal with it and hung up.

I kept trying to call back on several occasions to try and work something out but they have refused to talk it over including the owner. I have even had the car towed back to there lot and told them to keep my deposit and they refuse to receive the car.

They said that I would have to keep it and I said that I don't want it and that I would not pay the monthly payments then they said that if I don't they would take me to court. I just want them take the car back and give me my money. I have already sent them my request in writing what else can I do legally?

Answer to Florida Court Forms Question

Dear Rosario,

I've read your question a couple of times, and you don't state whether you signed an "As Is" warranty or not.

Most Florida used car dealerships have buyers sign this form as a matter of routine, so I'll assume it was sold "As Is", which generally means there is no warranty.

However, even though you likely signed away your right to a warranty, you still may have recourse.

Under Federal law there is a tenet known as "implied warranty of merchantability" which means that an item sold (by a dealer) must do what it is supposed to do.

A car is supposed to take you from point A to point B; problems with the vehicle's air conditioning are likely not relevant.

However, it is up to you to prove that the vehicle's defect, that prevented the car from running, existed before you bought it.

It sounds like you have acted quickly and done everything that you can do so far.

In order for you to recover your down payment you would most likely need to go to court.

It doesn't matter whether they file suit or you do, if they file, you can file a counter suit to recover your down payment, arguing that there was a defect in the car prior to the purchase and it was not fit to be sold. I had a similar situation several years ago, where I purchased a used car and two days later it left me stranded at midnight.

I returned the car to the dealership the next morning, and stopped payment on my check for the down payment. Nothing ever came of it, the dealer did not take me to court. I've included some information and links for you to look at. Good luck!

How to Protect Yourself: Buying a Used Car
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office

Buying a Used Car
Federal Trade Commission
March 2002

Warranty of Merchantability
The most common type of implied warranty is the warranty of merchantability: The seller promises that the product offered for sale will do what it's supposed to. That a car will run is an example of a warranty of merchantability. This promise applies to the basic functions of a car. It does not cover everything that could go wrong.

Breakdowns and other problems after the sale don't prove the seller breached the warranty of merchantability. A breach occurs only if the buyer can prove that a defect existed at the time of sale. A problem that occurs after the sale may be the result of a defect that existed at the time of sale or not. As a result, a dealer's liability is judged case-by-case.


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