How to Sue a Car Dealership – A Step-by-Step Guide


Purchasing a car from a dealership can be a major investment for most people. It’s not just a matter of the money that goes into buying a car, but also the emotional investment that comes with it. Therefore, it’s only natural to expect that when you purchase a car, it will be in good working condition without any hidden issues. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes a car dealership may engage in fraudulent activities that can cause consumers to incur significant losses. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may ask yourself: ‘How do I sue a car dealership?’

Steps to Consider Before Suing A Car Dealership

Before making any legal moves when dealing with a problematic car dealership, there are a few steps you should consider first.

The first step is to try and resolve the issue with the dealership directly. If you are experiencing problems post-purchase, under most consumer laws, the dealership should rectify the problem without creating additional inconvenience or cost to you. Your first priority should be to communicate with the dealership and try to get the situation resolved.

If speaking with dealership management does not yield results, the next step is to research and understand consumer protection laws in your state. Research topics including breach of contract, fraud, and misrepresentation to discover if the car dealership violated any law or contract section.

Reasons To Sue A Car Dealership

You should not hesitate to take legal action against a car dealership if you feel that the dealership has violated any consumer protection laws in your state. Below are some reasons that might lead you to file a lawsuit:

  • Deceptive trade practices
  • Breach of contract
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation
  • Lemon law violation (selling a defective vehicle)

Any of these actions could lead to a lawsuit against a dealership, or they could be grounds for filing a complaint against the dealership with a consumer protection agency. If a car dealership breaches your contract or violates any consumer protection laws, it is your legal right to seek compensation for any damages suffered as a result.


In conclusion, purchasing a car from a dealership is a major investment. It’s essential to know that you have legal options if the dealership violates legal provisions or a sale agreement. If you feel wronged or feel that you have been defrauded, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance. Understanding your consumer protection rights is the first step towards making informed decisions when dealing with a problematic car dealership, and a legal professional can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit if necessary.

Understanding the Legal Rights as a Consumer

When purchasing a vehicle from a car dealership, consumers are entitled to certain legal protections. Understanding these protections can help a consumer protect their rights in the event of any issues with the purchase.

One of the most important legal protections that consumers have is the right to a vehicle that is safe and roadworthy. This means that the car dealership is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is in good condition and free from any defects that could contribute to accidents or other safety hazards. Consumers also have the right to accurate and truthful information about the vehicle, including its history and any past repairs or accidents.

In addition to these protections, consumers also have the right to be treated fairly and honestly by the car dealership. This includes the right to not be subjected to any deceptive or unethical sales practices, such as bait-and-switch tactics or false advertising. If a consumer feels as though their rights have been violated, they may have legal options for seeking compensation or holding the car dealership accountable.

Knowing Your State’s Lemon Law

Many states have laws in place to protect consumers who have purchased a car that turns out to be a “lemon.” Typically, a car is considered a lemon if it has a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety and cannot be repaired despite reasonable attempts by the manufacturer or dealership.

If your car meets the criteria for being a lemon, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle from the dealership. However, it’s important to note that the specific details of lemon laws can vary by state, so it’s important to research the laws in your particular state if you suspect that you may have purchased a lemon.

Some basic requirements for lemon law claims in certain states may include:

  • The vehicle was purchased new (not used)
  • The defect(s) must be within a certain time or mileage limit
  • The dealership must have made a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect
  • The defect must substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle

Understanding the Uniform Commercial Code

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a set of standardized laws that govern commercial transactions across all states in the United States. This includes transactions related to the sale of cars at dealerships.

Under the UCC, car dealerships are required to abide by certain standards of good faith and fair dealing when selling a vehicle. This means that they must act honestly and fairly towards the buyer and cannot use any deceptive or unfair tactics to sell the car.

Additionally, the UCC provides protections for consumers who may have unknowingly purchased a car with a lien or other encumbrance on it. If a dealership sells a car with a lien on it, the purchaser has the right to seek damages from the dealership or even rescind the sale altogether.

Gathering Evidence to Support Your Claim

If you are considering suing a car dealership, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. This will help you to build a strong case and increase your chances of success in court.

Documenting All Conversations and Interactions with the Dealership

One important piece of evidence is documentation of all conversations and interactions that you have had with the dealership. This includes any phone calls, emails, or in-person conversations that you have had with salespeople, managers, mechanics, or other employees of the dealership.

Be sure to take notes during these interactions, including the date, time, and a summary of what was said. If possible, also try to get any promises, agreements, or other important information in writing. This will provide you with a record of what was discussed, and can be used as evidence in court.

If you have any witnesses to your interactions with the dealership, be sure to also gather their contact information and ask them to provide a written statement about what they saw or heard.

Collecting Maintenance and Repair Records

Another important piece of evidence when suing a car dealership is maintenance and repair records. These records will show any work that was done on the car, including a description of the problem, what was done to fix it, and the cost of the repairs.

If you have had multiple repairs done on the car, these records can be compared to see if there is a pattern of recurring problems. This can help to support your claim that the dealership sold you a defective car.

Be sure to also keep any receipts or invoices for repairs or maintenance that you have paid for out of pocket. These may be used to show the financial impact of the dealership’s actions on you.

In summary, when suing a car dealership, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. This includes documenting all conversations and interactions with the dealership, as well as collecting maintenance and repair records.

Hiring a Lawyer and Filing a Lawsuit

When dealing with a car dealership dispute, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit in order to seek compensation for damages or losses incurred. This process can be complex and time-consuming, but with the right representation and knowledge of the legal system, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome. Here are some steps to consider when hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit.

Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your Case

The first step in hiring a lawyer is to find someone with expertise in the specific area of law that applies to your case. Look for attorneys who specialize in consumer law, contract disputes, or automotive fraud. It is also important to find a lawyer who has a track record of success in cases similar to yours, as well as someone who is communicative and can explain the legal process in clear terms.

When meeting with potential lawyers, ask about their experience and success rates, as well as their fees and billing practices. Make sure you understand what the lawyer will expect of you during the case, and what steps will be taken to pursue your claim. Additionally, ask for references or testimonials from past clients to ensure you are making the best choice for your case.

Preparing and Filing a Complaint with the Court

After hiring a lawyer, the next step is to prepare and file a complaint with the court. This document will outline your claims against the dealership and the compensation you are seeking. Your lawyer will work with you to draft this document, which will be filed with the appropriate court and served to the defendant.

After the complaint is filed, the dealership will have a certain amount of time to respond and may choose to contest the claims made. If this occurs, your lawyer will be responsible for responding and building a case to support your claims. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and prepping for trial.

Participating in the Discovery Process and Building Your Case

During the discovery process, both parties will have the opportunity to request and exchange information about the case. This may include documents, witness statements, and other evidence relevant to the dispute. Your lawyer will work with you to ensure all necessary information is obtained and to strengthen your case.

If the case goes to trial, your lawyer will present evidence, examine witnesses, and argue your case in front of a judge or jury. This process can be stressful and emotional, but with the right representation, you can feel confident that your case is being handled professionally and effectively.

Going to Court and Seeking Damages

If you have tried to resolve your dispute with a car dealership and have been unsuccessful, you may choose to take legal action and file a lawsuit against the dealership. This can be a complicated and lengthy process, but it may be necessary to receive the compensation you are seeking. Before proceeding with a lawsuit, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney who can advise you on the best course of action to take.

When filing a lawsuit against a car dealership, it is important to provide evidence that shows the dealership engaged in deceptive or unfair practices that resulted in damages. Documentation should include receipts, contracts, emails, and any other relevant information that can support your claim.

It is important to note that filing a lawsuit does not guarantee a favorable outcome. It may take months or even years to reach a verdict, and the cost of legal fees can be expensive. However, in cases where a dealership has engaged in illegal or deceptive practices, it may be worth pursuing legal action to hold them accountable.

Presenting Your Case to a Judge or Jury

To successfully present your case to a judge or jury, you must provide evidence that clearly shows the dealership engaged in deceptive or unfair practices. This evidence can include documentation, eye-witness testimony, expert testimony, and any other relevant information that supports your claim.

During the trial, you will have the opportunity to present your case to the court and argue for compensation for damages. Your attorney will work with you to prepare your testimony and cross-examine witnesses presented by the dealership’s legal team.

In some cases, the dealership may choose to settle the case out of court to avoid a costly and lengthy legal battle. If this occurs, your attorney will work with you to negotiate a settlement that provides fair compensation for damages and costs.

Seeking Compensation for Damages, Costs, and Legal Fees

If you are successful in your lawsuit against a car dealership, you may be entitled to compensation for damages, costs, and legal fees. Damages may include reimbursement for repairs or replacement of a defective vehicle, as well as compensation for emotional distress or lost income resulting from the dealership’s actions.

In addition to damages, you may also be entitled to reimbursement for costs associated with pursuing legal action, such as court fees and attorney fees. Your attorney will work with you to ensure that you receive fair compensation for all of your losses.

It is important to note that the amount of compensation awarded can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, pursuing legal action against a car dealership can provide a way to hold them accountable for their actions and may help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Appealing a Court Decision if Necessary

If your case against the car dealership did not end in your favor, and you believe the court made a mistake, you may have grounds for an appeal. However, appealing a court decision is a complex process that requires a thorough understanding of the law and the appeals process.

Determining if You Have Grounds for an Appeal

An appeal is not a retrial of your case but rather, a review of the legal processes leading up to the court’s decision. You must be able to prove that the court made an error in law that significantly affected the outcome of the case. Some common grounds for appeal include procedural mistakes or errors in the interpretation of the law.

Before filing an appeal, consult with an experienced attorney to determine if you have grounds for an appeal. Your attorney can review the legal documents and court transcripts to identify legal errors that may be used as grounds for an appeal.

Filing an Appeal and Preparing for the Appeals Process

If you decide to file an appeal, you must file a notice of appeal in the appropriate appellate court within the specified timeline. You must also include a written brief outlining the legal arguments for your appeal.

Preparing for the appeals process is a complex and time-consuming process that involves reviewing the original trial record, researching legal precedents, and drafting written briefs. You may also need to appear before the appellate court to argue your case.

Presenting Your Case to the Appeals Court

When presenting your case before the appellate court, you must be prepared to argue the legal merits of your case and demonstrate how the lower court made an error of law. You may also need to answer questions from the judges and provide additional evidence to support your arguments.

It is essential to present your case clearly and persuasively before the appellate court, as the outcome of your appeal will have long-lasting consequences for your legal rights. Hiring an experienced appellate attorney to represent you during the appeals process can help to ensure that your case is presented effectively and that your legal rights are protected.


What steps do I need to follow to sue a car dealership?

To sue a car dealership, follow these steps:
1. Collect all necessary evidence, including all receipts, repair orders, contracts, and emails exchanged with the dealership.
2. Contact the dealership and try to resolve the issue through negotiation or mediation. If this doesn’t work, send a demand letter with a detailed explanation of your complaint, evidence, and the requested compensation.
3. File a complaint with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
4. Hire a lawyer to represent you and file a lawsuit against the dealership.
5. Attend court hearings and present your case with supporting evidence.
6. Wait for the court’s decision and receive compensation if you win the case.
Keep in mind that the process can be lengthy and expensive, so it is essential to have a strong case and a reliable lawyer.

What type of issues can I sue a car dealership for?

You can sue a car dealership for various reasons, which include:
1. Breach of contract, such as selling you a defective car or misrepresenting the condition of the vehicle.
2. Fraudulent activities, such as forging documents, lying about the car’s history or specifications, or charging you for unauthorized fees.
3. Violations of consumer protection laws, such as deceiving you into purchasing a car you cannot afford or coercing you into buying add-ons or warranties.
4. Negligence, such as failing to repair a known issue or causing personal injury due to a faulty car.
If you have experienced any of these issues or any other wrongful actions by a car dealership, you may have a valid case for a lawsuit.

What are the possible outcomes of a car dealership lawsuit?

The possible outcomes of a car dealership lawsuit include:
1. A settlement agreement in which the dealership agrees to compensate you for your losses and damages.
2. A verdict in your favor, which requires the dealership to pay you a certain amount of compensation.
3. A dismissal of your case, which means that your argument was not successful or there isn’t enough evidence to support your case.
Keep in mind that the results of a lawsuit may vary depending on several factors, including the strength of your case, the evidence presented, and the judge’s decision.

How long does it take to sue a car dealership?

The length of a car dealership lawsuit can vary depending on several factors, such as:
1. The complexity of your case and the amount of evidence involved.
2. The availability of witnesses and expert testimony.
3. The efficiency and workload of the court system.
4. The willingness of the dealership to negotiate or settle.
On average, a car dealership lawsuit can take anywhere from several months to a few years. It is crucial to be patient and cooperate with your lawyer throughout the legal process to increase your chances of success.

How much does it cost to sue a car dealership?

The cost of suing a car dealership can vary depending on several factors, such as:
1. The complexity of your case and the amount of evidence involved.
2. The hourly rate of your lawyer and the estimated number of hours necessary to complete your case.
3. Court fees and miscellaneous expenses such as document filing, expert witness fees, and travel expenses.
On average, a car dealership lawsuit can cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. Some lawyers may work on a contingency basis, meaning that they will not charge you upfront but will receive a percentage of the compensation if you win. However, it is crucial to discuss payment options with your lawyer before proceeding with a lawsuit.