It’s been said that when buying something used, you have to adhere to the “buyer beware” concept.
But one Victoria woman felt that buying a used car that immediately fell apart on her warranted compensation and so she took a local teenager to the BC Civil Resolutions Tribunal.
The teen who sold the alleged lemon – without an adult present – cannot be named because he is a minor, but he responded in court filings that the car “did not have any mechanical issues when he sold it” to the woman in question.
The woman who filed the claim said the car broke down less than a week after it was purchased and needs about $4,500 in repairs to restore the vehicle to the condition she claims the teenager represented it to be in.
According to the CRT ruling, the major issue in the dispute was this: Did the teenager (listed as FL) breach an implied warranty of durability, misrepresent the car’s condition, or fail to disclose a latent defect in the car? It’s an important issue as more and more people buy vehicles online through such sources as Facebook Marketplace.
The woman bought the vehicle, a 2008 Mazda3, in 2022 for $4,800. Two days later, according to the woman, the car began overheating and she had to take it in for repairs. She texted FL asking him to help pay for the repairs, but received no response.
The woman claims in the CRT ruling that the car also had a cracked head gasket and other issues.
“It is well-established that in the sale of used vehicles, the general rule is ‘buyer beware,’” says the CRT ruling. “This means that a buyer is not entitled to damages, such as repair costs, just because the vehicle breaks down shortly after the sale. Rather, a buyer who fails to have the vehicle inspected, as (the applicant) failed to do, is subject to the risk that they did not get what they thought they were getting and made a bad bargain. To be entitled to compensation, the buyer must prove fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of warranty, or known latent defect.”
According to the ruling, no adults were present with the teenager when he sold the car.
“That provision (of the Infants Act) says that a contract made by an ‘infant,’ or minor, is not enforceable against them unless certain exceptions apply,” said the CRT ruling. “I find those exceptions do not apply here, and so I find that (the applicant) cannot enforce the sale contract against FL. By extension, I find (the applicant) cannot enforce any contractual terms, including an implied warranty or condition under the SGA, against FL.”
As for the claim of misrepresentation, the CRT disputed that.
“FL’s ad said the car was in ‘amazing condition and runs and drives great.’ It also said the car had ‘good brakes, good tires, healthy engine, and needs no work whatsoever.’ FL does not dispute that he made the same statements in person. However, I find (the applicant) has not proven that these statements were false at the time FL made them.”
The CRT ruling found that the overheating issue wasn’t enough to prove that it was a pre-existing problem in the car and the applicant couldn’t prove the teenager knew about it.
And so, the CRT dismissed the woman’s claims.