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  1. #1
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    Oct 2013
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    Default Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: WISC

    My buddy bought a car off of Craigslist, its honda with a swapped engine. My friends knows nothing about cars, he bought half a year ago, drove it for about a month and it kept having issues with the clutch, engine mounts, etc. so he told me to fix it. After I fixed it he was nice enough to let me use the car as he bought a brand new car. Anyways, I've been using it for a few months now and decides to sell it. I told my friend i was going to sell it so he signed the title, a premade bill of sale in advance. Link of the Bill of sale we used. http://www.samplewords.com/entrepren...sale-thumb.jpg


    I sold it to a guy in Wisconsin and apparently the DMV inspects the car before they let them register it, In IL you can simply walk in and with your title without the car so my friend never had an issue with registering it. when the guy went to register to it, they checked the motor and the VIN was etched off from the motor which probably means it was stolen.

    I'll make it CLEAR that my friend and I had no idea that the vin was etched off, he bought the car with that motor in it and to be honest, I would never think twice at looking at a motor VIN. I will for now on for future cars I buy. But anyways back to the story.

    The guy already signed the title and the Bill of sale, he demands for me to buy him a new engine or give him all his money back. Or he'll take me and my friend to court, Anything he can do? To be honest I feel bad about it and offered to pay $500 towards a new motor and he'll pay the rest but he demands I pay for everything or give him his money back. Help!

    Also, my friend didn't sell it himself because he travels a lot for work, doesnt have the time, and he already gave me the car to use.

    Basically, does this Bill of sale protect us from any allegations against us if we do go to court? link of the bill of sale posted above.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Mismatch Between Car and Engine

    If you sold him a car with a stolen engine, you need to fix the problem. You represented that you owned what you were selling to him, and you don't own the engine if it was a stolen engine.

    It sounds like you know a lot about cars, so it's unlikely you weren't aware of the significance of the serial number's having been etched off.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Mismatch Between Car and Engine

    I honestly did not know it was etched off, it was a clean job. Looked like a VIN was never there. I told my friend and he's been trying to call the previous owner that he bought it from but no answer. I already offered to pay some of the repairs because i do feel bad, but he wants me to pay a $2k invoice to put a 2nd hand motor he found in.. he's also had the car for a few days so I dont know if he swapped out another motor either. He said he was going to do a big turbo build with the car.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Mismatch Between Car and Engine

    Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Mismatch Between Car and Engine
    that is not the problem as there is not necessarily anything illegal with swapping engines. It is that there is NO ID number on the engine at all.

    does he realize that even if you purchased a new engine the ID numbers on it would not match the VIN on the car?

    I cannot find anything in Wisconsin laws that address this specifically enough to be able to give you much direction so...


    what I would do is call the Wisconsin DMV and ask them if that is a valid reason for them to deny they issue a title and how it might be remedied. Personally, I am not confident the guy has a leg to stand on here. If that was an issue, he should have verified it prior to purchase of the vehicle.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    If you sold him a car with a stolen engine, you need to fix the problem. You represented that you owned what you were selling to him, and you don't own the engine if it was a stolen engine.

    It sounds like you know a lot about cars, so it's unlikely you weren't aware of the significance of the serial number's having been etched off.
    but there is no proof it is a stolen engine. While that may suggest it is a stolen engine, inferring it is not proof of anything. Maybe the guy that installed it did what he did because the engine used caused the car to not be in compliance with emission laws. While that too would be unlawful, it is quite a different situation than claiming the engine is stolen.


    and to be honest with you Mr K, I know a lot about cars but have never even considered checking the engine ID numbers when purchasing a car. Maybe because in my state they are not checked as they are in Wisconsin.

    - - - Updated - - -

    just got to your link (apparently hotlinks are not allowed by them). Did you notice the part where it says seller will warrant and defend the right against the lawful claims and demands of all persons? That may be a problem for you. If you sold it "as is", you might have been able to refuse to assist to remedy the issue but when you provide an express warranty such as you have, you are now bound to it. I suggest you might seek a remedy acceptable to all parties involved.



  5. #5
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    Generally, when a vehicle is first registered in a new state, some require a VIN inspection to determine the title matches the VIN. Most states only check the dash VIN. The problem is you do not appear able to convey a clear title across state lines. I would take the car back and sell it within the state, where a missing vin will not matter. You need to disclose the defect. It is not defacto proof the engine is stolen.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    Quote Quoting jk
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    that is not the problem as there is not necessarily anything illegal with swapping engines. It is that there is NO ID number on the engine at all.
    It may be possible to raise the VIN, depending on how deep the etching goes, if somebody wants to go through the trouble. There does not appear to be a dispute that the engine had a VIN and that it was removed.
    Quote Quoting jk
    what I would do is call the Wisconsin DMV and ask them if that is a valid reason for them to deny they issue a title and how it might be remedied. Personally, I am not confident the guy has a leg to stand on here. If that was an issue, he should have verified it prior to purchase of the vehicle.
    I disagree. First, the guy can allege fraud. "chicagojdm sold me a car that he knew had a stolen engine." chicagojdm can turn around and say, "No, I had no idea that the engine was stolen", in which case the guy can say "Then I want to rescind the transaction based upon mutual mistake, as both of us believed at the time of sale that the engine was not stolen."
    Quote Quoting jk
    but there is no proof it is a stolen engine. While that may suggest it is a stolen engine, inferring it is not proof of anything.
    When you get a car part with the VIN etched off, that's a very obvious indication that it's a stolen part. If the seller wants to run with the "perhaps..." then the seller had best be bringing in documents and witnesses to establish clear ownership, because the judge was not born yesterday. "I bought a car, I learned after-the-fact that the VIN had been removed from the engine, the seller agrees that I could not reasonably have detected the problem prior to sale, and the seller cannot prove that he owns the engine that is installed in in the car." That's a problem for the seller.
    Quote Quoting jk
    Maybe the guy that installed it did what he did because the engine used caused the car to not be in compliance with emission laws. While that too would be unlawful, it is quite a different situation than claiming the engine is stolen.
    And if the seller can find "the guy" who did that, presents his testimony, and the judge believes it, he'll be in a much improved position.
    Quote Quoting jk
    and to be honest with you Mr K, I know a lot about cars but have never even considered checking the engine ID numbers when purchasing a car. Maybe because in my state they are not checked as they are in Wisconsin.
    I wouldn't expect you to check, unless you were buying a very special vehicle that would have a markedly different value if the VINs weren't all original.
    Quote Quoting jk
    Did you notice the part where it says seller will warrant and defend the right against the lawful claims and demands of all persons? That may be a problem for you.
    As is the representation of lawful ownership, if he cannot prove that he owns the engine.

    I wasn't thinking that chicagojdm was a scammer, just a guy who ended up with a car that had an issue unknown to him, and that contract reinforced my impression - I wold expect a scammer to use a better bill of sale, and one specifically for a car as opposed to the general sale of goods.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    It is potentially possible to use an acid etch and I believe it is fluoroscope technology to raise the serial number, however, if the block has been ground to the point it is not even noticeable that a VIN should have been there without knowledge, that is unlikely to be possible. This scenario and a wreck/rebuild scenario are the only two ways the vehicle would ever be red flagged to my knowledge. Then we can delve into a larger debate of whether the block was an aftermarket block not possessing a serial number or all the other engine parts are not stolen. On a used car, especially with high mileage, it appears to be a futile concern. The only laws I am aware of directly addressing missing serial numbers otherwise are on firearms.

    On a side note, Honda B18 series engines do not have a VIN engraved. They have a tag. JDM Honda engines apparently do not have block VINs also.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    The buyer and I made an agreement for me returning him $700 so it can go towards a new motor, Also in return we're making a brand new bill of sale stating that I am not liable for anything from here and out, car is sold as is and buyer cannot pursue any legal matter against my friend and I. Anything else should I add so this doesnt come back to haunt me?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    The lack of a VIN does not prove that an engine (or a car) was stolen. It can, however, prevent it from being titled and registered in a state. In your case, yes, I would want a signed release from the buyer releasing you from any further liability for any claims about this vehicle before I gave him money. That should not be on the bill of sale because you will want him to sign it, and a buyer does not sign a bill of sale.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Buyer Wants His Money Back Due to VIN Missing from Engine

    Actually what the op is discussing is a contract and it would be wholly proper for all parties to sign it but as to the bill of sale: not a thing wrong with both buyer and seller signing it.

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