“As Is” Clauses and Fraud
Consumers typically purchase used (a.k.a. “pre-owned”) vehicles because the cost of a new vehicle is simply too expensive. Often times, these purchases occur after a car dealership assures its customer the used vehicle is in good condition and has no serious problems. Unfortunately, many people discover these assurances are false shortly after their purchase when their vehicle begins exhibiting serious problems (e.g., the engine won’t start, the transmission begins slipping, discovery of frame damage, etc.).
People’s natural response is to return to the selling dealership to fix the problems. When they do, they often find the previously “friendly and helpful” salesperson no longer has time to listen to their concerns and instead quickly whips out a document with two words on it: “AS IS.” The consumer is then told that since he or she bought the used vehicle “as is”, the dealership is not responsible for any problems occurring after the sale and that the customer is essentially stuck with the vehicle and all of its problems. This is not necessarily true.
While an “as is” disclaimer may effectively waive certain warranties, it does not provide a seller with blanket immunity from liability for fraud. Simply put, a dealership is not allowed to fraudulently misrepresent the condition of a vehicle simply because it puts the words “AS IS” on a sales contract, Buyer’s Guide, or similar document. Likewise, the words “AS IS” do not excuse a dealership from failing to disclose known problems with a vehicle prior to a sale.
So if you suspect a dealership was dishonest about the true condition of your used car or chose to conceal a serious problem, don’t be discouraged by the words “AS IS.” You may still have remedies available to you under California law.