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Old 10-19-2011, 09:53 PM
 
2 posts, read 16,875 times
Reputation: 14
Default Purchased car that doesn't pass smog, smogged it and failed, now owner wont' give me my money back

Hello All,

Please chime in on what you think should be done. I'm trying to determine what my options are for getting back at this dirt bag.

Here's the story.

My cousin and I were looking to purchase a car from CL, we find this post for a 97 Acura CL thats within the price range of our budget.

We get to this guys house, he lets us test drive the car around the block, and then we make the deal. He assures that his dad is a mechanic and takes great care of the car and that it's recently been smogged. We take his word for it, pay him the cash and leave on our way.

that night the Check engine light comes on... with a CEL there is no way we can pass a ca smog test. We take it to the local smog shop, they pull the codes and it's for a bad transmission. We tell him to smog it anyways so that we have proper documentation for the seller. I call him the next day and ask that he fixes the problem or refund our money back (as law requires the seller to be responsible for smog prior to sale of vehicle) He tells me to bring the car back and his dad will fix it. We take the car back to his fathers house and his dad pops the hood, pulls the negative wire from the battery for 10 seconds, plugs it back in, and demands that we follow him to his buddy's smog shop.
Sure enough, when we get to the smog shop he talks to his friend (in vietnamese) they put the car on as if they were smogging it. Sure enough after some button pushing they provide us with a smog certificate stating that it has passed.

We know this is fraud but we take the certificate and drive off, and several hours later the CEL comes back on verifying that the smog shop has just illegally passed the car. We then take the car to the original smog shop that we went to, asked that they try to smog it. They assure us that it cannot be smogged as the ECU is still INCOMPLETE.

I understand that we have to file a civil case against the seller, but my question is, what are the steps I need to take in order to expedite this case, and have the seller refund our money. We do not want to keep this car.

Thanks in advance for anyone that chimes in on this situation.
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:11 PM
 
Location: California
2,671 posts, read 1,763,812 times
Reputation: 4647
Nolo law books from your local library can talk you through filing legal action without a lawyer. Be sure to keep all your documentation and witnesses as I'm sure the seller will deny, deny. Also, check out the Santa Clara courts on line, or in person, as they might have some pointers to help you get through the system.

If you purchased the car "as is" all bets are off. Check your title and bill of sale. You might want to try the Santa Clara legal referal service as I think you can get a short visit with a lawyer for little or no cost. Generally, you should get your legal advice from the professionals.

We purchased our used car from Anderson Honda in Palo Alto, their price was very fair and we have been well treated by them. I hesitated going to them at first as I thought they would be more expensive but in the end, we got a 2009 Honda Accord with 14,000 miles for $18,000 last year. No huge hassles about anything which was nice. We never buy anything off the street but I guess you have figured that out.

Some people just don't respect the law or other individuals.

I wish you the best with your case as I really dislike that behavior. Keep us posted.

Last edited by Heidi60; 10-19-2011 at 10:41 PM..
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:47 PM
 
Location: Columbia, California
6,513 posts, read 13,380,868 times
Reputation: 4508
Bureau of Automotive Repair, State of California, Dept. of Consumer Affairs
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Newark, Ca
1,218 posts, read 1,783,414 times
Reputation: 1563

I was just about to say the same thing. The corrupt shop can be fined thousands of dollars and possibly face jail for performing an illegal smog check and the technician who actually performed the smog check would most likely lose his smog license.

When it comes to many types of repair issues that arise after an "as-is" used car purchase, there's often not much you can do.

When the problem involves an illegal smog check though, you should have quite a bit of legal recourse.

If you're not worried about retaliation, you may want to threaten the seller that you'll be contacting the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair about the illegal smog check that was performed if they don't refund your money and take back the car. If he doesn't want his dad to get into some serious legal trouble, he may go for this.

Definitely contact the BAR as recommended by ferretkona. I wouldn't be surprised if they sent somebody out to the shop within a day or two! They usually take this stuff pretty seriously. FYI, I work in the automotive business and am pretty familiar with smog laws.
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
3,641 posts, read 4,646,512 times
Reputation: 1350
There's always two ways to handle situations like this.

One is to put on your negotiating hat, sharpen your bargaining skills, and talk with them and try to convince them to take the car back and refund your money. This requires a combination of being tactful but firm, and having good communication tactics, and trying different strategies in the hopes that you find one that succeeds. Which strategies you use is up to you. Do you want to threaten them with lawsuit right off the bat, or do you save that argument as a last resort? Do you appeal to their sense of decency? Do you bring money into it (maybe you're willing to let them keep a hundred bucks if they take the car back.) It's all up to you. Different people respond to a negotiating strategy in different ways. You just have to do your best to size up what kind of people they are and what argument has the best chance of working. In your particular case, the fact that they were willing to take the car to their mechanic, "smog" it and provide you with a certificate means that they are willing to work with you on this. Use this as a bargaining lever.

The first method is not guaranteed to succeed. It depends on the frame of mind of the other party, and how good of a salesperson you are. If you don't succeed, then the other method is small claims court.

Of the two methods, the first is always preferable because it avoids the cost and time of the second. Therefore it's important to devote sufficient effort into making it work.

Last edited by 80skeys; 10-20-2011 at 12:28 PM..
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:27 PM
 
9,989 posts, read 7,307,330 times
Reputation: 3459
This was a private party sale and not a dealership sale. Thus its an as-is sale. Do you have it in writing that the seller guarantees the car will pass a smog test? If not - you lose.
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
3,641 posts, read 4,646,512 times
Reputation: 1350
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilVA View Post
This was a private party sale and not a dealership sale. Thus its an as-is sale. Do you have it in writing that the seller guarantees the car will pass a smog test? If not - you lose.
Not if he can convince them to take the car back and issue a refund. The "legal/court" route isn't always the only method of getting what you want.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:58 PM
 
2 posts, read 16,875 times
Reputation: 14
I see what you guys are saying, but unfortunately i've tried the civil method by asking for a refund due to the fact that he sold me a bad vehicle. Hopefully the judge will recognize that it was a scam right off the back due to the smog not passing, then the owner illegally having the car smogged so that he can be done with it. Only to have the same problem come back that same day.

as of now, the only option is to have it fixed and save all documentation and present my case to the judge.

Do you guys think the court will recognize this as a scam? due to the facts I posted here?

honestly, why would anyone want to buy a car that doesn't run? unless we were scammed from the beginning to believe that the car was perfectly fine when in fact, the owner just wanted to unload a bad car onto who ever was gullible enough to buy it.

again, thanks for posting your thoughts and opinions
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
3,641 posts, read 4,646,512 times
Reputation: 1350
Quote:
Originally Posted by lewis2 View Post
I see what you guys are saying, but unfortunately i've tried the civil method by asking for a refund due to the fact that he sold me a bad vehicle. Hopefully the judge will recognize that it was a scam right off the back due to the smog not passing, then the owner illegally having the car smogged so that he can be done with it. Only to have the same problem come back that same day.

as of now, the only option is to have it fixed and save all documentation and present my case to the judge.

Do you guys think the court will recognize this as a scam? due to the facts I posted here?
The defendant simply will say that their smog inspection was legitimate, it passed smog (here's the certificate to prove it) and that you should have just taken that certificate to the DMV and registered the car. There are SOOO many things that can make a check engine light go on and many of them are harmless.

If you want to counter that argument, you'll have to get your mechanic to get the error codes from the car, look up those error codes and if it shows a major issue that couldn't have occurred in a single day then you'll have something for your case.

me personally: a smog certificate is a smog certificate. As long as the car runs and I can register it, I'm fine.
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Escondido, CA
1,504 posts, read 3,409,949 times
Reputation: 807
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstnghu2 View Post
I was just about to say the same thing. The corrupt shop can be fined thousands of dollars and possibly face jail for performing an illegal smog check and the technician who actually performed the smog check would most likely lose his smog license.
It's a bit of a grey area. For many vehicles it is acceptable to bypass the functional test stage of the smog test. If it were a 1996 model, for example, resetting the OBD-II system as described above and then ignoring the incomplete status would have been 100% legal.

But it's worth a try.

It seems to me that nitpicking and trying to give the car back because one of the sensors sees some kind of problem with transmission, after making a conscious decision to buy a 15 year old car, is just silly and wrong. Even if nothing is wrong with the car today, something will break in a month or two.
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