Am I responsible for repairs to the used vehicle I sold privately?
I sold my car privately for $4,000. A month later, the buyer came back saying there’s $2,000 in repairs needed and the car is undrivable. Am I responsible for the repairs? Or to give a refund? I didn’t misrepresent, and the buyer didn’t get an inspection before purchasing.
When you sell a used vehicle, certain conditions are implied under the law. One is that the vehicle must be durable for a reasonable period of time.
How long is reasonable? It depends on many factors, including:
the age and condition of the vehicle,
the price paid for it,
the nature of the problem,
the discoverability of the problem, and
the use of the vehicle after the purchase.
Generally, the greater the age and mileage of the car, the more likely it is that something will break down. With an older car with extensive mileage, the implied durability condition might be limited to whether the car was roadworthy and could be driven safely at the time it was sold.
For instance, in this case, the Civil Resolution Tribunal found that a seller had breached the implied warranty of reasonable durability by selling an unsafe car. They had sold a 17-year-old Honda CR-V with 283,000 kms, and the buyer (who didn’t get an inspection) learned from a mechanic three days after the sale that the car was unsafe to drive. The seller had to give a full refund.
But in this case, where a buyer bought an 8-year-old car with 140,000 kms, and had driven it for 616 km before it broke down, the court did not find a breach of the implied warranty.
So it’s not clear whether a court would find you liable to pay for the repairs or provide a refund. It’s all very context-specific. Consider how the cases above compare to yours. You can also search for other cases with facts similar to yours through the Canadian Legal Information Institute.
You could take a chance and deny the buyer’s claim altogether. They might file a claim against you through the Civil Resolution Tribunal, though, which can be done online without the help of a lawyer. On the other hand, if you were to offer to pay, say, half of the repairs, that would likely reduce your risk of facing a lawsuit.
In any event, you may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer. To do so, here are some free or low-cost options for legal advice. Feel free to also check out our webinar about buying a used car in BC for more information.