21

I recently sold my first car to someone. The sale went very fast, they test drove it, looked at it and signed over the car. This was about 3 weeks ago. All of a sudden I get a text message 'Can you please contact me about an engine issue with the car'.

My partner is out of town until Thursday so I don't want to engage in anything before that anyway, but honestly I don't want to engage in anything at all. According to my legal advisor I am not liable for the new damages.

How do I politely say I do not wish to be contacted about the matter?

I deleted parts of the question as debating wether or not you think a buyer is liable for the car damage is not the point here. I would like advice on how to politely hold her off, that is all.

  • 6
    Apart from what's fair you'd also need to know what's legally required, I guess. Where are you located? – AllTheKingsHorses Sep 19 '17 at 10:21
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    @Fildor no contract or anything, I'm in The Netherlands and all you have to do is get paid and sign over the car. – Summer Sep 19 '17 at 11:53
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    If you contact the buyer, make sure you to use the term "your car", not "my car" or "the car", because both of those are used to give the impression that this is a problem for both of you, and it isn't. – Erik Sep 19 '17 at 12:31
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    This appears to be more of a legal problem than an interpersonal one. – Philipp Sep 19 '17 at 18:08
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    @MichaelBay This made me laugh, I am being completely honest. I'm trying to give you information about my question and I chose to do so with narrative, would you have preferred dry bullet points? – Summer Sep 20 '17 at 7:30
25

Is it 'fair' to say it's not my responsibility?

As you are in Europe, I recommand that you check the European Vehicle Inspection, its autofore link, and related links on the right menu. Give great advice and help with the laws.

In Europe, all vehicles must have a technical inspection (new car: after 4 years, then, used cars, every 2 years). In case you sell a used car, as you did, the test must be done by a certified inspection center, and be less than 6 months old.

You can't sell a car without this inspection:

  1. If you did not have it done, you're in trouble.
  2. If you did it, you're fine. Everything that comes after is not your responsibility any more.

Can I say I don't wish to contact her about the car?

Now, you're left with the moral part of the deal. I sold some used cars over the years. Good ones, with the inspection test done. No worries. But I would just answer her, listen to what she says, and if she wants to blame you for anything that happened after the deal, politely decline.

If you don't answer her, she might want to get you into trouble, or go to the police/court, and it will only escalate. And cost a lot of money. I would definitely listen to her, so I know what she wants, then, it depends on what she says/asks...


EDIT: after you (OP) mentioned that according to my legal advisor I am not liable for the new damages, and that you would like advice on how to politely hold her off, I'd say a ferm and polite way would be to let her know that you won't go any further into arguing over this issue:

I am sorry to hear from you that you had some problems with the engine. We had the APK done, and it was OK. I gave you the proofs/bills for inspection and repair. We then agreed and had a legal deal and sale. Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about that anymore, and I am neither responsible nor liable for anything that could occur after the sale. And I can't be of any kind of help, as it is your car now, and I can't legally interfere.

I hope you find a solution on your own, and can get the engine fixed.

And nice closing greetings with your own words...

  • 2
    @JaneDoe1337 She has nothing to discuss with "them", she is not their customer, YOU are. If you suspect fraud you can and should complain but regarding the sale you - and only you - are responsible when dealing with the buyer, even if you did everything in "good faith". It's not the buyers fault you have been scammed before and were unaware of it at the time of the deal. The unwillingness to communicate with the other part right now also raises a red flag and can (and will) be quite detrimental to your case if it goes to court. – user6005 Sep 20 '17 at 0:41
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    @MichaelBay I have contacted a lawyer this morning and they said I am not liable for anything and that I can hold off any contact if I please to do so. Legally it is not my problem I have been scammed, it's not something I could have known and still don't know if it's true, I am not a car expert. – Summer Sep 20 '17 at 7:32
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    @OldPadawan: I live in Germany, and have bought and sold several cars in my live, all used, all from private persons and that is legal! It is also quite common! And if you want a special car like an old-timer etc. not unusual to buy it in bad shape without inspection and get it fixed and inspected yourself. – user6109 Sep 20 '17 at 10:50
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    @OldPadawan: What part of "as long as you don´t lie about the condition it is in" did you not understand? and What part of "You or the buyer would not be allowed to drive on a public road " was unclear? Yes, if you buy a car from me, knowing that it has no valid inspection (which is apparent by the inspection sticker on the number plates) and you choose to drive it on the road illegally and kill yourself, that is your responsibility! – user6109 Sep 20 '17 at 10:59
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    @OldPadawan No statements. You're simply no longer owner of the car and with signing it over the new owner takes full responsibility. At least, in practice. Suing people over faulty items after resale is not a thing in NW Europe. – Mast Sep 20 '17 at 11:16
11

I'd at least hear the person out. Someone I know sold her car and was contacted after. She sold it to a teenager. They found inside it several photos she did want as well as over $50. While it's possible they are trying to get you to cover some problem or something, you can't know what it's about without contact. If you prefer to wait until Thursday then I see no reason you can't do that.

Where I live there is nothing you could be responsible for unless you knew, meaning you lied about mileage (old cars you used to be able to manipulate mileage if you knew how). Anything you didn't know about (even if had been stolen and you sold it not knowing that) would be no problem for you. You don't appear to be a car dealer. I can't recall how many cars you have to sell in a year before the rule changes (and counts you as a "dealer), but at one time I know it was 4 or more made you under some other set of rules, 3 or less was just "as is".

  • She already mentioned it's engine problems, no personal belongings or anything. – Summer Sep 19 '17 at 10:50
  • Could she be looking for any information that might help, such as previous work that could be under warranty? Did you give her all the paperwork on any prior work? If you did, then I wouldn't even worry about it. You can reply by telling her that you have no additional information to offer and any issues with the car currently don't pertain to you (unless you happen to live some place that holds you responsible). The only person I have ever been willing to work with was family and I legitimately didn't know there was a massive problem (immediately) as I had no inspection. – threetimes Sep 19 '17 at 11:06
  • she has the full history and all the paperwork of my car. Including a very large extensive repair 2 months before she bought the car. If what she says is true, maybe the last garage are a bunch of cons but even then I can't help it at all, she should just contact them and not me. – Summer Sep 19 '17 at 11:21
  • Correct. If you gave her all the papers, if you are a private citizen selling a used vehicle, she has no legal standing to require you to interact with her at all - according to where I live. I am not sure if there are locations that hold a seller responsible, but none that I know of in the USA do and I can't imagine other places would as that doesn't seem feasible. – threetimes Sep 19 '17 at 11:23
  • "old cars you used to be able to manipulate mileage if you knew how" - the same is true of new cars; the "how" is very different but it's still possible if you know it! – psmears Sep 19 '17 at 15:36
8

In the states, when you sell a car to somebody, unless expressly stated, you sell it "as-is" with no warranty which means you are not responsible for issue with the car unless you hid them from the buyer. It sounds like you gave her all of the paperwork. So you are off the hook. Also, lots of people are bad people and she could be trying to scam you out of money and the car. So I wouldn't discuss anything with her.

I would respond to a text with "I'm sorry your car is having troubles. I gave you the complete history of your car's repairs and inspections and there were no known issues. Because of this, I do not wish to be contacted again. Thank you."

This way it is in writing, civil, and polite. In the US it isn't harassment until you tell them to stop contacting you. If you tell them to stop and they keep doing it you might have a shot a harassment filings. But unless it is crazy excessive I wouldn't file anything. I would keep that in my back pocket just in-case they try to sue for the engine (doubt it because personally I believe it is a scam) and then counter-sue.

Edit: I took the advice of a comment that said do not call it "the car" during communication. So I changed some "the car"s to "your car"s. Again, I want to reiterate, don't have excessive communication with them. I advocate for only a SINGLE text between the 2 of you.

4

In terms of the sale caveat emptor applies. This is pretty much universal for private sales of items. If you were a dealer then she might be able to come back to you under some fixed warranty period (3 months in the UK) but as it's private it's just bad luck. The car was sold "as is" with no warranty implied or otherwise.

You can express your dismay at the failure of the vehicle, but it's not your problem, assuming all the paperwork was in order at the time of sale.

4

What about something like this:

"Oh man, your car broke down? Thats really unfortunate. I just had x,y, and z fixed before you bought it by ____ Repair place. Perhaps they did some shoddy work, I'd suggest contacting them about it.

Good luck and I hope they can fix it!"

This communicates: 1. not my problem and that you have some sympathy for the unfortunate breakdown. 2. perhaps the repair place did a poor job and should "fix" it properly this time for free or at a discount.

If she continues to pester you about it, just keep directing her to the repair place. OR: if she keeps pestering you, just tell her the truth: "I sold you a perfectly functional car and you have all the repair records. This is unfortunate, but the car and its repairs are your responsibility now."

  • The problem is she didn't bought the car from the shop that did the hypothetical "shoddy work". The new owner isn't that shop's customer and cannot complain about it, only who contracted the service, the original owner, can ((and if sure it happened, that person should). The seller is ultimately responsible for each and all non-conformities. What happens in the US has no translation in Europe where much stronger consumer protections and rights are in place, even for private sales of used goods. – user6005 Sep 19 '17 at 23:49
  • In this case there's a "presumption of "good faith"" that will be shattered the moment the seller suggests it might have been "shoddy work" involved, i.e., fraud in one or more service/revision reports used as "assurance" for the business transactions. The seller is still responsible even if unaware of the fraud at the time of the deal, if informed in a reasonable amount of time (she was). If acting in "good faith" the seller can ask for compensation from the fraudsters but that process runs in parallel and independent of the compensation owned to the buyer. – user6005 Sep 20 '17 at 0:01
  • This is the best answer here. Been there, done that. She bought it as is, basta. – RedSonja Sep 20 '17 at 7:24
  • @MichaelBay the seller is not responsible in a private sale, I don't know where you got this information but it's untrue. The buyer is responsible for doing enough research actually, any problems that occur after the sale is the buyers problem, unless it turns out the seller scammed or whatever. – Summer Sep 20 '17 at 7:33
  • @MichaelBay In private sales of second-hand goods, as soon as you make the trade, any future problems belong to the buyer. As long as the seller is honest about the history of the item (e.g., accident and repair history) he has no further responsibility. – Oscar Bravo Sep 20 '17 at 8:57
2
  1. If you're uncomfortable with verbal communication, agree to written communication.
  2. When you contact her express your honest sympathies that her car broke down.
  3. Offer her any kind of assistance she needs and you are willing to provide. That means you should offer to send her copies of documentation.

The point is to contact her in good faith. Things to avoid:

  1. Don't assume anything about the cause of the failure. Make no guesses about the cause of the failure, don't in any way imply the repair shop or her driving style or a scam artist or anything else is to blame.
  2. Do not imply that she's asking for (or entitled to) money. The only thing she can sensibly ask from you is documentation and information, so at this point anything you write assumes that's the only thing she wants.

If she later asks for money, that's the time when you can say things like "I'll get back to you when my partner is back in town later this week, but don't get your hopes up".

2

How do I politely say I do not wish to be contacted about the matter?

Simply respond with something along the lines of

I'm sorry. I don't think I need to be involved with any issues with your car anymore. I would prefer not to be contacted further about it. Kind regards.

1

First of all, a used car is a used car. A practice from many countries (European perspective) is, that used think is a used thing and no guarantee is given, unless stated otherwise. Unless the defects are consciously hidden by seller, the seller is not responsible for them.

Many dealers of 2nd hand cars give their guarantee for limited time, but it's fully optional and it is a marketing strategy.

People don't invest in cars they want to sell. It's quite normal the first thing you need to do with a new car is to do a full service (oil, filters, tire checkout). Everyone should be aware of it.

So unless you haven't hidden any serious engine problems from buyer, you should be fine, but always check local laws that could state otherwise.

Don't assume that something is broken and they blame you for it. Maybe they want simply ask about some minor problems and how to deal with them? Or about your experience? You are not obliged to share that experience, but it should't take more than a few minutes.

If something has broken, say you're sorry for it, but everything was working fine when you have sold the car and there were no known to you indicators for any problems. But you're not a mechanical.

'According to my (limited) knowledge' etc. should be a reasonable answer. You were a driver, and that's all. And now it's a past.

Anyway, they should call you, not you them. I see no reason you should invest your money to help them solve their problem with their car.

-1

I am from Poland and also know Netherlands a lot (business here).

If the engine got broken after 3 weeks, most likely it was a hidden failure. Now, the guy who bought your car should go to the court and prove that the malfunction was already before.

I had similar situation many times and in 90% the car went back to the owner and in 50% from that without even going to the court.

I think you should change your legal advisor since he's quite wrong.

  • He explained there is a large difference between a private seller and someone who sells car on business. – Summer Sep 20 '17 at 10:42
  • Please remember to be nice. There's no need to comment on the other answers (particularly not in those terms) when composing your own. – Catija Sep 20 '17 at 15:51

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