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Your car isn’t running right. It started up just fine and had no problems on your highway drive. But then, ‘sputter sputter sputter, clang clang BANG’ and it stalled. It starts but you just don’t trust it anymore. Obviously, you’re ticked. You decide that the time has come to put the ‘FOR SALE’ sign on the window and part ways with your car. But is it legal to sell a car with a bad engine?

Selling a car with problems is a gray area at best. As the seller, you have certain responsibilities – as well as rights – when it comes to selling your vehicle. Let’s take a look at the legalities of selling a car that does not run or needs repairs.

Can I Sell My Car With A Blown Engine?

car for cashThe short answer is ‘YES’. You can sell a car with a blown engine.

From a legal standpoint, your car has to be in the condition you describe it in. If your engine is blown and won’t start, it’s pretty clear to a buyer: they’re going to need to do some engine work. There’s no good way to pull the wool over a buyer’s eyes when the car just isn’t going to run.

Selling a car that does not run is not an easy task, though. With a blown engine, there aren’t many people who are willing to invest money in that type of vehicle. A few reasons:

  • They have no idea what the cost will be to fix the engine issues.
  • Once the engine is fixed, are there going to be other surprises hiding underneath?
  • Most car buyers just want to drive a car, not dump time and money into repairs right away.

How to Trade in A Car With Engine Problems - Sell A Car That Doesn't Start

It’s clear cut to sell a car that doesn’t start, but what if there are other mechanical issues instead? As a private seller, you have an obligation to accurately represent the vehicle you are selling to potential buyers, just like with an engine problem. But if the issues are mechanical, electrical, or an intermittent condition, they might not be as obvious.

If you’re considering selling a car without disclosing the issues you know about, be very careful. Is it illegal to trade in a car with problems? No, but the law gives car buyers a few rights that act as protection. If you haven’t fully disclosed the problems you know about, the buyer could sue you to recoup repair costs.

Your car must be in merchantable condition – that is, what someone could reasonably expect a car in used condition to look like. And once again, you have to represent the car properly to the buyer.


Our expert evaluators can help you get an accurate estimate for your car's value, FAST!

Can I Trade in A Car With A Bad Engine for Cash?

It’s the same as a lien against your car title. You can’t sell your car without disclosing a lien to the new buyer. And no, they’re probably not going to buy it if there’s a lien against it. Whether your car has a lien or has damage that means it’s not in merchantable condition, you have the responsibility to tell a buyer about it before the deal is done. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

What Do I Do With A Car With Engine Problems?

woman checking car's engineHere’s a scenario: what if your car has engine issues and you can’t afford to pay for the repairs or the downtime? Are you stuck with it?

No. You CAN sell a car with engine problems. It needs to be clearly detailed to the buyer. If you know how to sell a car that needs repairs, you can do it the same way:

  • List your car in the classifieds online – Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or a local site.
  • Write out all the positive things about your car along with attractive photos.
  • Add details about the car trouble you’re having. You don’t have to explain it all or give a cost estimate for repairs, just let the potential buyer know what they’re actually getting.
  • Wait for responses, especially low-ball offers.

Find The Value of My Car With A Bad Engine

The biggest thing you need to know about selling a car with a blown engine is how to accurately price it. Your listing won’t get any traction whatsoever if you overprice your car, but you don’t want to give it away either.

Like previously mentioned, buyers need to account for unexpected expenses along with the cost of the engine repair. They don’t know what else could be wrong if they can’t test drive it! If your engine isn’t running at all or it’s blown, prepare yourself for a low sale price.

The value of a car with a blown engine isn’t as easy to calculate as simply taking the cost of a new engine off the price. You’ll have to account for incidentals too. For example, if your car was worth $5,000 in running condition and a used replacement engine is $1,500, you might expect to list your car at $3,500. But you should probably set it at $2,500 because a buyer needs to assume there will be more wrong than just the cost of the engine.

How to Sell A Car With Engine Problems to

car for cashIt’s not fun dealing with car problems, nor is it enjoyable selling a car for less than it was once worth. But you can take the sting out of selling your car with a blown engine or mechanical issues when you choose CarBrain.

CarBrain offers you a fair price for your car in as-is condition, broken or otherwise. No need to fix it up for buyers or get a state inspection done. You’ll receive an offer for your car just like it is and in 90 seconds or less. Instead of wasting your time trying to sell it privately, CarBrain will take it off your hands fast. If you accept our offer, you’ll have money in hand within 24 to 48 hours in most cases, and we’ll tow it away at no charge to you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Illegal To Sell A Car Without Disclosing Problems?

Yes — if you want to sell your car with mechanical problems, you need to tell the potential buyer any issues your vehicle may have. If you fail to do so, you could face some legality and liability issues down the road.

If I Sell A Car And It Breaks Down, Am I Liable?

If you find yourself wondering "Can I sell my car with mechanical problems without mentioning it?" you might want to reconsider — if you knowingly sell a car and fail to mention its issues, you could face a lawsuit down the line. However, the situation is different if you genuinely are not aware that an issue exists. In that case, the onus is on whoever purchased the car to get it inspected after buying it.

Is It Illegal To Lie When Selling A Bad Car?

Yes! It's a bad idea to lie about your car's condition when selling a car. Instead of misleading your potential buyers, be honest and upfront about the condition your vehicle is in.

car with problems

Not having success finding someone interested in your ? CarBrain can help. We specialize in buying less-than-perfect cars with all kinds of problems, and we're happy to make an offer on yours as well!

We have more than a decade of experience in the industry, and we know what your vehicle is worth. It takes 90 seconds to get an offer, and free towing is always included. Accept your offer today and get paid fast for your car!

Can You Sell A Car With Issues?

Yes! It is absolutely a bad idea to lie about your car's condition when selling a car. Instead of misleading your potential buyers, be honest and upfront about the condition your vehicle is in. If you fail to do so, you could find yourself in some hot legal water!

For what it’s worth...

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