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When buying a car exploring all of your purchasing options to find the best deal is a smart move. Sometimes you may find the best deal online from a private seller. Thankfully, the Massachusetts Lemon Law also covers private party sales. This blog explores buyers and sellers rights and responsibilities when individuals and businesses use the internet to sell cars they own.

Individuals in Massachusetts who list their cars on sites such as craigslist or Facebook Marketplace must follow laws regarding private party sales.  The seller must inform the buyer of all known defects which impair the safety or substantially impair the use of the vehicle. If the buyer discovers such a defect and can prove that the seller knew about it but failed to disclose it, they may rescind the contract within 30 days of the date of sale.  Buyers are also recommended to have the vehicle inspected at a licensed Massachusetts Inspection Station as soon as possible. The buyer may be entitled to a refund if the car fails inspection within 7 days of the date of purchase and the estimated costs of repairs exceed 10% of the purchase price.  More information about private party sales can be found at here.

Some businesses that sell motor vehicles are primarily internet-based but may have a physical location in Massachusetts.  Such business must follow all applicable laws including the Lemon Laws, the Attorney General’s Motor Vehicle Regulations and the Consumer Protection Law.  Note: it is NOT legal for licensed dealers to pose as private sellers, or to pay someone to pose as the owner of the car.  This is known as “curbstoning”.  If you suspect illegal activity regarding the sale, you may report the activity to the licensing authority of the city or town where you purchased the vehicle.

Some businesses sell cars to Massachusetts residents but do not have a physical location in Massachusetts.  If you find that they have a location in another state, you may contact the authorities of that state to see what rights you may have under their Lemon Laws.  If the business is online-only and does not have any physical presence, you should report them to the Attorney General’s Office.

Buying a new car or truck can be both exciting and stressful, hopefully knowing your consumer rights makes this big purchase somewhat easier. As you now know, the Lemon Laws protect you if you buy a vehicle in Massachusetts that has serious defects. Additional resources are available on our Lemon Law pages and blog posts.


If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs, and the MA Do Not Call Registry.


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