All Sales Are Final!

Are all Used Car Sales “Final” ?

As always, please read the Disclaimers Page!

The answer to that question is both a resounding YES, and at times, a well-qualified No.

A few reason why it would NOT be:

  1. Buyer was not of legal age or legal “capacity” to sign the Bill of Sale/Buyer’s Order.
  2. The finality of the sale is dependent on another action. (Getting lender approval.)
  3. The Buyer has a Right of Recission based on a warranty or other legal grounds.

To explain #3:

First, the Buyer’s Guide – As-Is, sets the expectation to the consumer that the vehicle they are buying is exactly that- As-Is.

That simply means “you pays your money and you takes your chances.”

A few states do not allow completely “As-Is” sales, they require that the Dealer put an Implied Warranty on the unit.

  • Implied means that it is understood without being written down.
  • Express warranties are specified in writing.

According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute:

An implied warranty of fitness arises under the Uniform Commercial Code §2-315 when a buyer requests something for a particular purpose, and the seller then supplies a product for that purpose.1

That means that the Dealer must warrant the unit to be what it is claimed: Normally, a functional mode of transportation. If the Consumer is buying the unit for a particular purpose, and expresses that purpose or functionality to the Dealer, the Implied Warranty extends beyond mere transportation functionality.

For example: A person comes to the Dealer, and says they have a trailer that when loaded, weighs 15,000 lbs. If the Dealer recommends a vehicle for that particular purpose, the vehicle sold must be able to fulfill that purpose.

  • Even in As-Is States, this Implied Warranty can be created if the Consumer clearly and unambiguously made the functionality requirement known, and made it a requirement of the purchase.
  • Real World Case: A Consumer told a dealer that he needed a truck capable of pulling a dual-axle boat trailer. The rep sold him an S-10 (Midsize/Compact) truck, and assured him it would tow the trailer without problems. When the transmission understandably went out, the court held that the statement of the Sales Rep created an Implied Warranty of Fitness For a Particular Purpose.
  • Another Case: Dealer’s Rep was told by a Consumer that she needed a “reliable car to make a 1000 mile trip.” Rep tells Consumer that the car she is interested in would make it “to California and back” (6000 Miles round trip) “with no problem.” The engine failed abt 500 miles into the trip. Even with a signed As-is, that court also found that the Rep’s statement created an Implied Warranty.

However, even an Implied Warranty sale can be “final.” If the recourse is simply that if the vehicle can be repaired to fulfill the Implied Warranty, that is all that is required. Alternatively, the Dealer can offer a different vehicle that can fulfill the Implied Warranty if the initial one cannot be repaired.

Other Right of Recission:

There is normally no “cooling off” period for Used Vehicle Sales, UNLESS a substantial portion of the sale occurred in the Consumer’s home.

  • “The Sale” refers to the entire process, including the initial contact, the agreement, and the final transfer and completion of the papers.
  • Some states do have a period of time for in-home solicitations that the Consumer can cancel the sale, and require that the Dealer return any money or values transferred.

Be Clear:

It definitely helps the Dealers’ case if they have:

  1. A conspicuous and understandable sign stating this policy.
  2. Representatives of the Dealer ensure that the person signing the papers is capable of understanding the agreement. See “Legal Capacity” below.
  3. The representatives of the Dealership are trained not to promise warranties or service after the sale, OR to make statements that try to minimize or obscure the intent of certain documents:

Real-World case: A consumer got a blown engine warrantied in spite of signing an “As-Is” form because the sales representative stated the Federal Buyer’s Guide was just “government red tape” and “didn’t mean anything.” The attorney for the plaintiff produced several witnesses who all said the rep repeatedly told consumers the same thing, along with a promise that the dealer would “take care of” the car if anything went wrong.

Finally, the Dealer should make sure that the forms that make this clear (The Federal Buyer’s Guide and your own As-Is Form) are signed and understood to their exact purpose.


Conspicuous means “easily seen or noticed; readily visible or observable by a reasonable person who is supposed to notice it.”

Understandable is intended to infer that the average person can read the wording, and without overt assistance, comprehends the meaning of the message.

Legal Capacity means that the person is of legal age of majority (in most cases) AND is competent to enter into the agreement.

  • Competent implies:
    • An adult who is able to understand the agreement.
    • People who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can not be considered competent.
    • A person who is of diminished mental capacity is not considered competent.
    • A person under extreme duress or force cannot be considered to have competently entered into the agreement.


  1. ↩︎

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *