Car dealers can be dishonest and fraudulent, especially when they encounter unsuspecting victims, usually people who are buying their first car and don’t know what to look out for in a car.

Many, in the bid to make a lot of profit don’t perform the necessary repairs they should before selling a car. They hope that once the buyer buys the car, the responsibility for repairs then shifts to the buyer, while they enjoy their massive profit.

Some novice buyers let it go, but for people who can’t let go of the injustice, what to do if a dealer sells you a bad used car?

If a car dealer sells you a bad used car, you can return it and request for a refund or a fix. If the dealer refuse to cooperate, you can involve a lawyer and sue the dealership.

Can a Dealer Sell you a Bad Used Car?

Yes. It is very likely for a dealer to sell you a bad used car, and many dealers do that a lot, especially ones who don’t have honesty as one of their strong suits.

Many dealers are all about profit. They think more along the lines of how to make more profit than they do how to satisfy their customers, and for this reason, they cut a lot of corners.

For example, there are loads of issues with a vehicle, they know this, yet they try to find the things wrong with the vehicle that would cost the least to repair, and also see how to slightly refurbish the major faults in a way that can be managed for a few weeks, so they don’t spend all their profit on repairs.

Then they sell the same to unsuspecting customers who later find that they have been sold a bad used car. Many can decide to put up with it or repair it by themselves to avoid the long, hard troubles. While some others can decide to go for a refund or get justice one way or another.

To be fair, some other car dealers might sell a bad used car, not because of fraudulent purposes, but because of neglect and communication breach between the different departments of their dealership.

They honestly did not know that the car was bad. Either way, whatever the reason, selling a bad used car is the car dealership’s fault, while the customer also shares in this fault for not being vigilant enough, and not testing the car enough.

What to do if a Dealer Sells you a Bad Used Car

When you realize that a dealer has sold you a bad used car, the very first thing you should do is to call the dealer you purchased the car from to report the situation.

If the car dealer has dealt in good faith, and it was honest negligence from the side of the dealer, there won’t be any hassles trying to get the dealer to fix the car, replace it with a good one, or refund you.

Generally, if there wasn’t a sinister reason for selling the bad used car to you, the car dealer will be as helpful as possible in redeeming the situation.

However, if after reporting the situation to the dealer, and he or she is proving difficult, you might have to drive down to their office to demand a fix or a refund of your money, as what you paid for was not what you got.

If this does not resolve the issue, you might need to introduce the law. Your best chances are with an auto dealer lawyer who would help you get the matter resolved legally.

Laws of Buying a Used Car from a Dealer

There are laws guiding the buying of a used car from a dealer, more specifically, Federal laws.

Federal laws state that a car dealer is not the same as a seller, that is, someone who is privately selling his used car, and the law does not require the private seller to disclose as much information on the vehicle as a dealer is required to do.

Another thing the federal law also expresses is that there must be a buyer’s guide displayed for all used cars that are on sale.

The buyer’s guide contains warranties if any, all promises the car brings, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), permission to have a different mechanic inspect the car, and finally, where to check the history reports of a vehicle as well as where to check for open safety calls.

Why does Car Dealership Sell Bad Used Cars?

Here are reasons why car dealership sells bad used car to their customers:

1. Greed

This is one of the leading reasons why car dealers sell bad used cars. They want to earn a lot of profit, so they do the least repairs possible and try to manage the rest, at least until the customer is convinced enough to fully purchase the vehicle.

Many times, after selling a bad used car, and a month or so later, the customer comes back complaining about faults in the car, the dealerships shift all the fault on the customer’s use and lack of maintenance.

These types of dealers don’t care about good faith, all they know and want to do is maximize the profit they earn on each vehicle, no matter the number of corners they have to cut to make that happen.

2. Negligence

Another reason why car dealers sell bad used cars is negligence. Some of these car dealers have a lot of cars they try to refurbish and sell off, and so, they don’t pay due attention necessary to a single car, and for that reason, they might not know the complete condition of a vehicle they are selling.

For this reason, they go ahead and sell bad used cars, only for it to come back and bite them in form of customer complaints, refunds, and lawsuits.

3. Operational Miscommunication

The way some car dealerships are run can also be a reason why they sell bad used cars. Many times, within a car dealership, there are several departments. One department is tasked with repairs of vehicles for sale, one tasked with sales, one administration, etc.

Tales have been told of how there often is miscommunication between the repairs and maintenance department and the sales department.

The sales department would sell a vehicle that they haven’t been authorized by the repairs department to sell, as long as they believe it is working fine and can be sold, only to discover later that the repairs department still has some repairs to do within the car.

This is usually a result of the pressure to hit sales targets from the management, and so, the sales department bypasses a lot of protocols, as long as they get a car sold at a profit.


As a buyer, you should always be vigilant when buying a used bad car from a dealer. If you are buying a car for the first time, you should go with someone who is experienced, preferably a mechanic.

Also, know that you have the option and right to involve an auto dealer lawyer if you believe that the vehicle has been sold to you in bad faith.