Sold car and clutch went out the next day... am I responsible.

We sold a used 03 BMW 330i on Saturday… and the buyer is saying today (Monday) that the clutch went out. We never had any clutch problems.

The car was sold “as is”, with high mileage, a crack in the windshield, needing a front bumper *and *with a check engine light on for less than the book value.

The buyer is now wanting a refund or for us to pay for the work… are we responsible for **anything **at all in this situation?

You sold is “as-is.” End of story.

Not a lawyer and I’m sure it varies by state, but from the FTC:


The full article has a little bit of state specific information.

That’s how I feel… but obviously the buyer feels differently.

How he feels won’t impact what your duties and responsibilities are under the law.

However, given there are lots of different jurisdictions (and you may be posting from outside the United States) it’s very difficult to say with certainty. If you’re in the United States the FTC tries to make its publications as applicable to the whole country as possible, and in the article I linked they do seem to list out states with specific variations to the general information they are giving.

The majority of states do not have “lemon laws” for used cars, although some do and some even have protection against a private sale like yours. You would need to check your local laws to be sure.

In most localities, the only situation in which you would be held liable is if the buyer was able to prove you purposely and maliciously concealed the fact that the clutch was bad.

As is - is - as is.
Tell the buyer you’re sorry, but that’s life.
(assuming the buyer drove the car, they should have known the clutch was fine.- even most new car warranties exclude clutches)

The buyer took the car on about a 10 minute test drive, then purchased the car.

I’m in Oklahoma, for what it’s worth.

Clutches give plenty of notice before failing and only die overnight when serious abused, if it was ok when sold then the problem is the new owners.

If I were you, I’d ask them whether the mechanical check they did on the car prior to purchase indicated any problem with the clutch, and if not, why should you be held responsible?

Maybe it is different on BMW’s or something but I thought clutches go bad gradually. It wears down and becomes less grabby but still marginally usable for some time.

Unless perhaps it was driven hard for a day…

If you honestly didn’t have any reason to suspect a problem with the clutch, you should be off the hook. If I was in your situation and didn’t think that they were pulling a scam, I’d off to split the cost with them because I’d feel guilty but you don’t have to do that.

Without any other information to go on, I’m willing to make a WAG that the new owner decided to take his new toy out for a real test drive (wink wink), only to ruin the clutch in the process (possibly due to some combination of poor driving technique and a clutch that maybe didn’t have much life left anyway).

You’re in the clear, in my book.

It’s his failure to get the car checked out by a mechanic before buying. He probably thought he stole the car from you. Lesson learned on his part.

Might be best to avoid any offers to them. I’ve been told that it can be used as an admission of guilt and could put you on the hook for the whole bill.

The clutch cable broke in our car some 30 year ago while I was driving it. I was only about 18, so I didn’t have a ton of driving experience, but there wasn’t any warning I noticed until there was suddenly a problem. I might have described it as “the clutch went out” before we found what the cause was.

I agree that the most likely scenario is that they bought a BMW and one or more drivers inexperienced with manual performance cars destroyed the clutch in short order having some fun with it. It is usually difficult to destroy a clutch that quickly but you don’t know what they were doing and it is a used car. Sucks to be them. BMW repair costs are really high but I am sure they researched all that before they bought it. If not, oh well.

You can learn the value of the most powerful word in the English language by saying “No” anytime they ask you for something and don’t discuss it further.

I don’t think the OP has any obligation to the buyer whatsoever, legally or morally.

If a person wants a warranty, then they need to either buy a new car from a dealer, or buy from a used car dealer who also offers warranties–but in the latter case, you’re going to pay more for that used car than you will to a private party.

I’ve sold three cars to private parties in my life, and have always made a point of using a bill of sale like this sample. It’s my understanding that a bill of sale is not actually required in most states, because signing over the title is usually sufficient. The reason why I always insist upon it, though, is this paragraph:

Even if it’s understood that the sale is “as is,” I think that this document would help solidify the seller’s position.

BTW, I think it is possible to ruin a clutch in short order. When I was a teenager, I took my car in for service and was told that my clutch was getting worn and would need to be replaced within six months or so. Then my stepfather let his sister borrow my car for the weekend. It turned out that she didn’t really know how to drive a stick shift as well as she professed to. :rolleyes: When I got the car back on Monday, the clutch was completely gone.

With the fact set you provide, there is no reliability on your part. The buyer had the chance to check what he was buying. A clutch can go at any time, but would be expected at high mileage. I could have tested it yesterday and it probably would have blown up on my test and you’d be pissed, but that’s another story. You owe this party nothing. You can feel sorry for him if you want. He thought he was beating you out of something. Anybody who buys a used vehicle dam well better be able to inspect it thoroughly or take the consequent risk.

You may feel bad for them, but if you sold the car as is then you owe them nothing. It is what it is.