Rusty Mazda sale reversal shows it's not always 'buyer beware' in B.C.

Not always 'buyer beware'

A small claims adjudicator has sided with the buyer of a rusty 2005 Mazda 3 in ordering the seller to repay the $3,000 purchase price.

B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal member Christopher Rivers noted the “well-established” rule in buying a used vehicle is “buyer beware” — the very rule Mazda 3 seller Nathan Schulz leaned on as defence to buyer MacLean Roman’s claim.

But Rivers turned to the B.C. Sale of Goods Act (SGA) and ultimately found Schulz liable for breach of warranty under the act in a March 28 decision.

According to Roman’s claim, Schulz had informed Roman the Mazda had a squeaky belt and acknowledged some rust, but was otherwise “fantastic.”

Roman agreed to pay Schulz $3,000 and subsequently took the car to a mechanic to repair the belt.

But, the mechanic told Roman that the upper rear shock mounts were completely rusted out and the surrounding body was so rusted it could be “pulled apart.” 

The mechanic concluded that they could not work on the car, as it could not be made safe to drive, and could not pass a private vehicle inspection, Rivers noted.

“For the SGA section 18(c) implied warranty to have any effect in a used car sale, I find roadworthiness cannot be strictly limited to being able to drive the car away from the place of sale. While that is a factor that weighs heavily in the seller’s favour, it is not absolute, and I still must consider the surrounding circumstances.

“Here, given the limited number of days and kilometres driven before the applicant discovered the extensive damage to the car, I find he has proven it was not roadworthy when purchased. While the applicant was able to drive it to the mechanic without the vehicle breaking down, the mechanic’s determination that the car was suitable only for scrap shows it was not reasonably durable and was unsafe at the time of sale.”

Rivers ordered Schulz to repay Roman the $3,000 Roman paid for the vehicle minus the $500 Roman recovered by scrapping it.

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