Selling a vehicle "as is". Can there be legal issues later?

I recently bought a car from a buddy of mine, but I’d like to sell it. There are some minor issues, but I’m no mechanic so I couldn’t be sure if there were other, more serious, issues.

Now, should I sell this car (let’s say though Craigslist), can the buyer come back at me later on with legal action should he come across any unmentioned flaws?

I would explain to this person to the best of my knowledge what shape this car is in. I’m assuming it would be this person’s responsibility, before signing, to make sure they were satisfied. I just want to be sure so I don’t have to worry.

I’m in the state of Hawaii if that should be of any importance.


Selling something “as is” will negate all implied warranties. If the seller hasn’t made any express warranties (oral or written warranties) that means the buyer takes without any expectation of future support by the seller. The only way a buyer who takes “as is” could take action in contract against the seller is if the car in question costs more than $500 and the contract wasn’t in writing or signed. Under UCC section 202, all contracts for personal property equal to or greater than $500 must be in writing to satisfy the Statute of Frauds.

If the car was defective in some way and the defect was the cause of injury to the buyer he would likely pursue an action in tort under a products liability theory against just about everyone who had title or possession of the car before it came into his hands, including the aforementioned seller. However, for the buyer to successfully sue the seller for products liability he must show breach of warranty. If there were no express or implied warranties the action will fail for lack of privity.

I don’t know about the specific circumstances of you or your deal, and I’m not offering any specific advise whatsoever. The preceding is just a general outline of some relevant contracts and torts law. Seek an attorney or speak to the people at craigslist for an answer that directly addresses your question.

The selling price of the vehicle would be greater than $500. Now, I sold a car previously, in late 2006 and relocated. When selling this car it was a simple ordeal, I took the money, signed it over, mailed in the top portion, and went on with my life. There were no follow-ups or future discrepancies.

The car in question has no major flaws that could later inflict harm to the driver or occupants. It just needs a quick a/c fix, a replacement window motor (which is not even bad), and there is a “ticking” sound under the dash which occurs of and on, which I’m sure is related to the a/c issue. That’s about it.

Last time I sold a car, maybe I got lucky and no problems grew later on. Though, this time I want to be sure the transaction is done correctly and the buyer understands what his rights are after buying.

There will be NO warranty attached to this vehicle. But from what I understand I will need a contract.

I hate to ask, but are you familiar with a site in which I can find the input for the type of contract necessary for this sale?


Selling a vehicle “as is” means there is no warranty on the vehicle. So generally the buyer can not come back and sue you successfully.

However, “as is” does not protect the seller if there is fraud or misrepresentation. So if you know of something wrong with the vehicle, and you take steps to conceal that, you are not protected. If you even just fail to mention it, you might not be protected.

So the best thing to do is to have a written document listing every single thing, even minor ones, that you know to be wrong with the vehicle. Then at the bottom say something like “To the best of my knowledge, these are all the problems with this vehicle. I have been driving this car on a daily basis, and it works for me. I am willing to allow purchaser to have his mechanic inspect the vehicle before purchase.” Offering to let the potential buyer take the car to his mechanic for an inspection helps protect you – it shows that you were not trying to conceal any flaw.

I have zero intentions of screwing anyone over, I’m just worried about someone else screwing ME over. I haven’t had the best of luck lately so I’m always watching my back. I just want to handle this in a manor whereas I do not have to worry once it is done.


Consider that the bill of sale will be a perfectly suitable contract, i.e., you have no reason to draw up a multi-page, mortgage-like document.

IANAL, but this seems like overkill to me. I would also be very wary of putting all of this in writing. What if you inadvertently missed something that you should have known? (For example, what if you simply forgot that electrical problem that was fixed under warranty several years back, and the problem recurs?) Better to simply verbally tell the seller every relevant issue regarding the car, IMHO.

To me, it goes without saying that a potential buyer has the opportunity to have it inspected by a mechanic, but it’s not a bad idea to state this in a bill of sale.

There is a free sample bill-of-sale online at I’ve used it as a template on numerous occasions, and it includes a great disclaimer:

This vehicle is sold “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, regarding the condition of the Vehicle. There are no warranties that extend beyond the description on the face hereof. Buyer has the right to inspect the Vehicle at any reasonable place and time and in a reasonable manner before the payment for or acceptance of the Vehicle. Seller assumes no responsibility for any repairs regardless of any oral statements made about the Vehicle.

Here is a link:

I once sold an MG Midget (I loved that car) as is. There was a cracked manifold that had muffler tape or something similar as a patch. An interested party looked the car over and we swapped keys so he could take it to his buddy (a mechanic) to check it out. He came back and paid me the full price. I held my breath for a few months, but never heard back from him. Who knows, maybe he sued his buddy!