March 7, 2005
PURCHASING MOTOR VEHICLES FROM PRIVATE PARTIES
By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst
You asked if there are any protections for consumers who buy an automobile from a private party who had made false statements about it in a newspaper advertisement.
The Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to give legal opinions and this report should not be considered as one.
A consumer may be able to find redress in court. One possible approach is suing for fraud. Under Connecticut case law (judge-made law), there are six basic elements to an action claiming fraud.
1. There must be a false representation.
2. It must be of an exiting fact.
3. It must be fraudulently made.
4. It must be made under circumstances that entitled the purchaser to rely on it.
5. The purchaser must have been induced to rely on it.
6. The purchaser must be damaged as a result of relying on the representation (Wright, FitzGerald & Ankerman, Conn. Law of Torts (3rd Ed.))
State statutes about the sale of used cars only concerns the sale of used cars by licensed motor vehicle dealers. Among its provisions, it prohibits licensed dealers from making false or misleading statements about the history or condition of the vehicle (CGS §§ 42-220 to 42-226).