By Attorney Sarah Albert
Have you ever purchased a used vehicle (car or motorcycle) as-is and had regrets about the purchase because you discovered it had defects unaccounted for when you first test-drove it?
Thankfully, pursuant to the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, Section 2L, a lot of used vehicles sold without a warranty (or “as-is”) are still subject to an implied warranty of merchantability. If the following characteristics do not apply to your used car, you may have some options when it comes to correcting or returning the vehicle, over the protests of the seller:
- A vehicle with over 150,000 miles at the time of sale;
- A vehicle with a flood or rebuild title;
- A vehicle with a gross weight of 8,000 pounds or more; or
- A vehicle defined as an antique.
Within fifteen (15) days of the date of delivery of your used vehicle, or within 500 miles of the odometer reading – whichever is sooner – you can enforce the implied warranty of merchantability. That means that, once given reasonable notice of a problem with your vehicle and before those constraints, the seller must attempt to repair it. You will be responsible to pay for half the cost of the first two (2) repairs necessary to bring the vehicle into compliance with the warranty, with a maximum payment of $100 for each repair.
Reasonable notice pursuant to the statute means:
- Text message to the seller's cell phone;
- Phone call to the seller's business number or the number on the bill of sale;
- Letter to the seller's business address or the address on the bill of sale; or
- In person at the seller's address on the bill of sale.
What's more, any attempt to exclude, modify, or disclaim the implied warranty by a seller who does not want to honor your request renders the purchase agreement voidable at your discretion. So if you are told the implied warranty of merchantability doesn't apply as thoroughly as described by statute, i.e., if the seller does not want to honor the remedies you are legally entitled to, you can void the contract altogether.
Additionally, sellers must print the following on documents accompanying the contact, in boldface 10-point or larger type set off from the body of the agreement:
"Illinois law requires that this vehicle will be free of a defect in a power train component for 15 days or 500 miles after delivery, whichever is earlier, except with regard to particular defects disclosed on the first page of this agreement. "Power train component" means the engine block, head, all internal engine parts, oil pan and gaskets, water pump, intake manifold, transmission, and all internal transmission parts, torque converter, drive shaft, universal joints, rear axle and all rear axle internal parts, and rear wheel bearings. You (the consumer) will have to pay up to $100 for each of the first 2 repairs if the warranty is violated."
If the above isn't included anywhere in your documents, the contract is voidable by you at your discretion.
You could suffer actual damages for having paid for a vehicle that has defects previous undisclosed, undiscovered, or concealed. You do not have to be stuck with that vehicle just because it is sold as-is. In fact, any violation of the previously described provisions on the part of the seller entitle you to bring a lawsuit against the seller for actual economic damages, attorney's fees, and costs if the court deems it proper.
If you are having mechanical difficulties with a used vehicle that you bought as-is, you may be legally entitled to a resolution from the seller, either a repair or refund. If you are having issues with a used vehicle, please contact our office at 312-818-6700 immediately and our civil law attorneys will be able to advise you of your options.
Note: if your used car was sold with an express warranty that encompasses more than what has been previously described, the implied warranty of merchantability does not apply.
 See 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq.
 See Section 2L(b)(1)-(4).
 See Section 2L(f).
 See Section 2L(f)(1)-(4).
 See Section 2L(c).
 See Section 2L(h).
 See Section 10a(a).
 See Section 2L(b-5).