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Problem with a Used Car - Work out the problem

Work out the problem

Step 1. Decide what outcome you're seeking

Once you understand your legal rights and options, decide what outcome you're seeking. Do you want the vehicle repaired? Do you want to return the vehicle and get a refund? Is either outcome acceptable?

When you’re deciding whether you’d rather get a repair or a refund, think about whether the problem is likely to lead to bigger issues.

If the problem doesn’t need fixing (for example, there’s a problem with a feature you don’t use, say the radio), you might want to ask the seller for a discount instead.

Step 2. Contact the seller

Contact the seller as soon as you notice the problem.  

Clearly explain your problem. Let them know you understand what you’re entitled to. Let them know the outcome you’re seeking. 

Depending on the situation, you might say something like this:

“Under the Sale of Goods Act, this vehicle should last for a reasonable period of time and be as described. My legal rights have been breached because the vehicle you sold me doesn’t meet these conditions. I would like you to put this right by giving me a refund or repairing the vehicle at your cost.”

Take the time to think about any offers before accepting or rejecting them.

If there are discussions about getting the vehicle repaired, consider getting three quotes for the repair work. This may make you feel more comfortable than letting the seller choose someone. 

Keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. Make sure to get all verbal agreements in writing.

Step 3. Send a complaint letter

If discussing the situation with the seller doesn’t resolve the problem, the next step is to send a complaint letter to the seller. You can use our template letter — it includes legal terminology and may help the seller realize you know your rights.

Keep a copy of the letter for yourself. If you can, send the letter by registered mail or courier. That way you will have proof the seller got it.

Step 4. Consider legal action

If you cannot solve the problem with the above steps, your next step may be to take legal action. Depending on the situation, you can consider suing the other party for breach of contract or misrepresentation. 

If your claim is for less than $5,000, you can make a claim to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This is an online system you can use without the help of a lawyer. 

If your claim is for less than $35,000, you can sue in Small Claims Court. It’s faster and less complicated than suing in the British Columbia Supreme Court. 

If you decide to sue, note that there are time limitations on filing lawsuits. There are steps you can take to extend these time limits and preserve your rights.

A lawyer can explain your options, and help you decide on the best course of action. If you don’t have a lawyer, there are options for free or low-cost legal help

For claims of under $5,000, you can apply to work out your dispute with the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This is a cheaper and faster option than going to court.