Problems in buying second-hand vehicles
In this article we will proceed to address the problems that can be caused by buying and selling a second-hand car that at first seems like a good investment in Regarding the quality-price of the vehicle, but after a while it can start to give us problems.
There are different options from a legal point of view to defend ourselves against the seller, whether it is an individual, a workshop or a dealer.
The first two options, from the point of view of civil jurisdiction, will be the claim for “hidden defects” and the claim for “Aliud pro alio” or sale of something else
The third, through criminal proceedings, would imply investigating the commission of a crime for fraud.
We will now address the explanation of each of the three referred options.
The first one can be defined as those defects in the thing that cannot be detected at the time of its acquisition. Hidden defects are considered, for legal purposes, defects that do not lead to the impossibility of using the vehicle
The foundation of hidden defects is found regulated in article 1461 of the Civil Code (CC) in accordance with its provisions on the seller’s obligations: “the seller is obligated to deliver and clean up the object of the sale.” In relation to the provisions of article 1474 of the CC regarding the obligation to repair the damages that may have been caused to the purchaser of the thing
In order for us to consider that we are facing hidden defects in the purchase of a vehicle, a series of requirements must be met, such as:
- That the damage is prior to the sale. The seller must prove that the damage did not exist before the purchase.
- That the damage is serious. It is necessary that, if they had known about it, the buyer would not have closed the deal, or would have negotiated a lower price.
- The damage is hidden. In the event that the defect is easily detectable, the buyer will not have the right to claim for this concept.
An aspect of significant relevance that we must take into consideration is the deadline for claiming this series of defects, since this action expires after six months< /strong> from the date of delivery of the vehicle. As it is an expiration period, and not a prescription period, the period cannot be interrupted by prior claim.
Selling something different or Aliud pro Alio
The sale of something different or “Aliud pro Alio” contemplates the termination of the sales contract, so that the buyer may return the vehicle to the seller, and the latter will be obliged to return of the price paid.
In the words of the Supreme Court in its judgment dated November 16, 2000:
“there is a full breach of the sales contract due to the inability of the object sold to fulfill the purpose for which it was sold, and consequently there has been the dissatisfaction of the buyer, which in these cases allows resorting to the protection provided by articles 1,101 and 1,124 of the Civil Code EDL 1889/1.”
Unlike the action to claim hidden defects, the term for claiming the sale of something different will have a longer term which is five years.< /strong>
In the event that we find ourselves in this situation, we must promote an action to terminate the contract through the means provided in article 1124 of the CC, which states the following: p>
“The power to resolve the obligations is understood to be implicit in the reciprocal ones, in the event that one of the obligors does not comply with what is it is incumbent.”
In order for the aforementioned action to be brought, the Supreme Court has indicated, through its jurisprudence, a series of requirements that must be met:
a) that the contract contains reciprocal benefits;
b) that they are enforceable;
c) compliance by the person exercising the action of the obligations incumbent upon him;
d) an intentional breach by the defaulting party (Judgment of May 16, 1996, in addition to others such as those of March 21, 1986, November 27, 1992, February 17, and July 10, 2003), so that “gives the injured party reason to believe that it cannot rely on the future performance of the other party.”
Apart from the requirements mentioned in the previous paragraph, each situation must be individualized depending on the problem that the vehicle has, as indicated by the “aliud pro alio” doctrine related to the sale of used vehicles:
“Regarding second-hand vehicles, the aforementioned judgments understood that such non-compliance occurs when the odometer has been altered ( S.A.P. Navarra 14-Jan.-1999), when replacement of the engine and injection pump is required ( S.A.P. Murcia 18-Oct.-1995), when the engine is seized ( S.A.P. Teruel, 10-May.-1995) when the vehicle has worn parts as a result of having traveled more kilometers than those indicated by the odometer ( S.A.P. Soria, 17-Jun.-1997), when its condition does not guarantee safety, regardless of whether it has passed the ITV ( S.A.P. Alicante , 12-Apr.-2000) or, finally, when the vehicle has defects in the cylinders and pistons that cause a decrease in power and engine overheating ( S.A.P. León, 6-Jul.-1999)”. em>
Criminal Proceedings – Crime of fraud
Lastly, we will proceed to address the study of criminal liability derived from the sale of a second-hand vehicle in poor condition or under conditions other than those agreed with the buyer.
This conduct could be classified as a crime of fraud, which is typified in the Penal Code in articles 248 et seq. with prison sentences of six months to three years. Said penalty could be raised to 6 years if any of the requirements contained in article 250 of the Penal Code were met. By way of example, the aggravated rate is contemplated when the value of the fraud exceeds 50,000 euros, affects a large number of people, or there is special damage to the economic situation of the victim.
In order for the sale of a second-hand vehicle in poor condition, or with characteristics other than those promised, to be considered a crime of fraud, the Supreme Court has indicated in its ruling dated June 17, 2013 the following:
“it must appear as a deceptive means, used to produce the error of the other person who hires, which is then, and therefore, induced to carry out a certain patrimonial detachment from which, in a relation of cause and effect, the instigator of the operation benefits, who, from the beginning, pursued that lucrative purpose. That is to say, deceit, profit motive, damage and causal relationship, as configuring elements of the criminal type provided for in article 248.1 of the Penal Code EDL 1995/16398.”