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Couple out of luck after truck bought off Craigslist breaks down before they got it home

BC Civil Resolution Tribunal concluded there was no "persuasive evidence" seller knew truck had transmission problems.
Burnaby's Fred Ashley and Justine Mary Smoke applied to the CRT for an order forcing the business that sold them a used truck to pay $3,500 for transmission repairs.

A Burnaby couple who bought a used truck whose transmission blew before they managed to get it home couldn't get no satisfaction at the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal this month.

Fred Ashley and Justine Mary Smoke wanted the tribunal to order the North Vancouver business that sold them the vehicle to pay $3,500 in repairs, according to a tribunal ruling earlier this month.

Ashley and Smoke bought the 2001 GMC Sierra 2500HD, which had 200,000 kilometres on it, from Ray Contracting in February 2021 after finding it advertised on Craigslist.

Ashley had “cycled through the truck’s gears” while moving it back and forth in Ray Contracting’s small yard.

He said he had noticed a “whirring” sound but thought it was probably because it had a heavier duty transmission than he was used to driving.

“Mr. Burr told the applicants the truck had some ‘minor issues,’” the ruling states. “When Mr. Ashley asked specifically about the transmission, Mr. Burr said there were no problems.”

The couple bought the truck, and Ashley proceeded to drive it home while Smoke followed in another vehicle.

In Burnaby, Smoke saw the truck start “smoking excessively,” and Ashley also noticed the transmission was slipping and “not moving” the vehicle, according to the ruling.

They soon learned the transmission was shot and needed to be rebuilt at a cost of more than $3,500.

When they told Burr about the issue, he told them that he was “sorry for their luck,” the ruling said.

The couple argued to the CRT that Ray Contracting had misrepresented the truck’s condition because Burr must have known or suspected the transmission had a problem.

But Burr said Ray Contracting was unaware of any transmission issue and the truck had been sold “as is, where is.”

Tribunal member Eric Regehr said buyers of used vehicles aren’t generally entitled to damages just because a vehicle breaks down shortly after a sale.

To get compensation, they must prove the seller misrepresented the vehicle or breached an “implied warranty” under the Sale of Goods Act.

Regehr concluded there was no direct or “persuasive evidence” Ray Contracting knew the truck had a transmission problem at the time of the sale.

As for the “implied warranty” under the Sale of Goods Act, Regehr said it doesn’t guarantee much more than that an older used vehicle will be “roadworthy” at the time of sale “even if it breaks down shortly afterwards.”

“In short, the implied warranty that the applicants rely on is extremely limited in the context of a 20-year-old truck with over 200,000 kilometers on it,” he said.

Regehr concluded Ashley and Smoke had not proven the truck wasn’t roadworthy at the time they bought it.

He dismissed their case.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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