Sale to family member of used vehicle


#1

My husband recently sold his 2001 Acura CL S Coupe to his brother at a pretty reasonable price ($2000 less than blue book). We have had NO problems with this vehicle. We live in CA; he lives in Colorado. The vehicle was driven to Colorado by a friend. Apparently today, a month after the transaction, the car started steaming; my brother-in-law thinks it’s the radiator. Any thoughts on what you think are our financial responsibilities at this point (not legally, of course, just ethically)? The last major service was perfectly clear. Also, could the transition from warm weather to cold weather have anything to do with this new issue? I would imagine that it’s just a faulty hose or something of the like…


#2

Stuff happens. Morally your obligation is to take him and his family out for a big beef roundup to say “apologies” (sorry…here in New England we do lobsterfests, but I don’t know what people do in Colorado…I’m guessing).


#3

I would find out what the problem is first, it might be something cheap like a hose or radiator cap. I would probably offer to share the cost if it turns out to be more significant, just to avoid any hard feelings. Even if it is a radiator, it’s probably only a few $100 anyway. Hopefully, you will offer and he will decline your help, that will keep the peace.


#4

Rocky mountain oysters?


#5

…and this is why I will never sell a vehicle to a family member again.

You sold it to him for $2000 less than blue book value, it was driven from CA to Colorado, and it’s been a month since the transaction was completed, and you STILL feel somewhat responsible. And we all would. Really, he shouldn’t be (and maybe doesn’t?) holding you to any sort of financial responsibility, it wasn’t a pre-existing problem. If this had been a private sale to a stranger, you would’ve made more money on the deal and definitely wouldn’t be reponsible for anything here.

BUT…with family you’ll always feel slightly responsible and the new owner may or may not resent you for selling him a “hunk of junk” if he ends up having lots of problems with it.

I sold a 2002 Cavalier to my sister for well under the average selling price at the time, and every time they had a little problem with it, I’d wonder from their comments if they somehow resented me for it…Maybe they did, maybe I was reading into it too much, I’ll never really know. Of course, after they put 90k on it without any major issues, I found it easier to stop feeling partially responsible for any problems, but still…I won’t sell another car to family or friends after that.

I’d say in your case, you don’t owe him anything, ethically speaking, since it wasn’t an issue that you knew about that was present prior to selling him the vehicle. But, as always with family, better to help out if it’ll keep everyone happy.


#6

Your financial responsibilities? None, absolutely none. Most important, your brother-in-law should know this. The ethical responsibilities fall on his shoulders to accept the situation as all his. If he makes any noise at all then he is the one making waves.

How you and your husband handle this family matter is another matter, it’s up to you. All I can do is note that you have no further financial obligation to this car.


#7

Ethically, no financial responsibility.


#8

Your BIL can take the repairs out of the $2000 he saved by buying it from you.


#9

It’s 8 years old and it’s his baby the moment he made the deal.
The unknowns is that one does not know how this “friend” treated the car on the drive up there, what is causing the steaming, or what problems have been caused by the steaming; depending on how long the car was operated like this.

Since it sounds like overheating is involved, low coolant, stuck thermostat, leaking radiator, hose, or water pump, inoperable cooling fans, etc. could be the cause of this.
If they’ve been operating the vehicle while overheating then you start getting into that blown head gasket, coolant diluted engine oil, cooked piston rings territory, etc. and this is all an expensive, major headache.

You’re not at fault here but sometimes relatives don’t see things that way; which is a good reason not to sell the car to a relative in the first place.