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VIC Recourse Under Australian Consumer Law for Undisclosed Car Issues?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Lemonade, 23 May 2016.

  1. Lemonade

    Lemonade Member

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    Hi,

    I bought a secondhand car about 2 months ago. Since then, I ran into a number of issues.

    Firstly, the seller didn't disclose that he swapped the wheels on the car before doing a roadworthy, so I was driving on unroadworthy wheels/tyres until I took the car in to have them replaced. I spoke to the seller and he admitted doing this.

    I asked the seller multiple times if there was anything wrong with the car that he did not disclose. He said that the car had no problems and I will have none with it. I also noticed when looking at the car more carefully after buying it that someone had touched it up with paint in various places - but that I could deal with.

    I took the car to a couple of mechanics because I noticed it was having issues in first gear. The car has relatively low kilometers. Both the mechanics said that the clutch is most likely gone and needs to be replaced. I've confirmed this with a couple of other people. This will set me back $1,500 as an estimation. The car has under 80,000km so one would reasonably assume the clutch would last longer than that.

    I'm wondering if private sales have any recourse or if you are stuck with what you bought. The seller never disclosed the car had such issues (I'm afraid to know what else I'll discover).

    Should I take this as a lesson in life or pursue it under Australian Consumer Law because I worry there are many other things wrong with the car which the seller didn't disclose?
     
  2. Lemonade

    Lemonade Member

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    Please note since I can't figure out how to edit the post, I realise that Australian Consumer Law doesn't cover private sales - I meant if there's a point to pursuing this in court or not.
     
  3. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Private sales are still bound by contract law principals which prohibits sellers engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct in order to induce a sale. Therefore, if you can prove that the seller knowingly lied about the state of the vehicle which you relied on in purchasing the car, yes you do have grounds to sue him or her.
     
  4. Lemonade

    Lemonade Member

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    Great, thanks.

    Will it become a case of a 'his word against mine' situation? Given how deceitful the seller has been, including selling a vehicle with un-roadworthy tires that could lead to injury/death, I can only assume that they would try to claim that this was discussed in the sale or find another method around this.

    However this was never discussed as I would not have purchased the car if I had this prior knowledge. And I did ask a number of times if there were any issues with the car.

    This was also not mentioned anywhere including the advertisement for the vehicle.
     
  5. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Even if it did end up being your word against his, you would be surprised how good courts are at seeing who is telling the truth and who is not. However there are several sources you may be able to look at to obtain evidence. Do you have old service records for the car? if not do you know where it was serviced by the last owner? Obtain records and see if teh owner was made aware of any of those pre-existing conditions prior to selling the vehicle. Even having evidence that you called the seller about the tires - the evidence of a phone call itself supports your version of events. You can also provide a statement from the mechanic who replaced the tires subsequently saying that they were unroadworthy.

    You would likely be bringing any legal action in QCAT because it is a minor civil claim and parties cannot have a lawyer represent them so you will be on an equal footing with your opponent and will not incur the legal costs of a lawyer.

    Before commencing proceedings though I would always recommend sending a final letter of demand to the seller requesting what you want from him and threatening that if it is not paid by X date you will be commencing legal proceedings in QCAT. This often achieves your purpose without having to file a claim.
     
  6. Lemonade

    Lemonade Member

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    Thanks again Sophea.

    One last question - in Victoria does it change things at all if the previous owner had the car under their business name (so it wasn't privately owned per se) but was under a Pty. Ltd. ? Or do those consumer laws only apply to actual dealerships?

    Just wondering whether or not it wasn't under the seller's own name when he sold it, but rather their business makes a difference.

    Cheers.

    Also to add, I spoke to the seller today and he was not willing to assist at all. So coming to an amicable arrangement seems highly unlikely.
     
  7. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    No that doesn't make a difference. Consumer laws still don't apply.
     

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