My Car Broke Down and the Dealer Won't Fix It
If you buy a car privately, the general law is “buyer beware,” meaning that you are stuck with the car and its problems unless the seller misrepresented the car (told you something about it that isn't true). If this happens, you may have to sue the seller in court.
The law gives you more protection if you buy a car from a dealer, which is a person or business that sells cars to try to earn income. Whether you're buying new car or a used one, there are legal standards for durability and quality under the provincial Sale of Goods Act. These are called your statutory rights. These rights mean that when you buy a car from a dealer, the car must meet certain conditions. It has to be fit for the purpose you bought it for, of "merchantable" quality (usable), and durable for a reasonable period of time. As well, dealers aren't allowed to use unfair practices to convince you to buy a car, such as misleading or pressuring you into buying it.
- Start by contacting the seller and explaining the problem. The seller may offer to fix or replace your car.
- If you bought the car from a dealer, file a complaint with the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC. They license and regulate car dealers in BC.
- Report the circumstances to a consumer agency such as the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Protection BC.
- If the seller claims that any of your statutory rights don’t apply, speak with a lawyer.
What happens next
If the above steps don’t work, you may have to sue the seller in Small Claims Court for claims up to $25,000, or Supreme Court for larger claims. See the section of this Guide under the heading "I need to take someone to court" for information on how to sue.
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Vehicle Sales Authority of BC.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The publication Consumer Law and Credit/Debt Law.
- The Law Students' Legal Advice Program Manual chapter "Consumer Protection," for useful information on "Contracts for the Sale of Goods."
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Drew Jackson, March 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."
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