I recently purchased a vehicle via an online dealer that offers a 7 day test-drive period.
While on a test drive, I heard a familiar "Knocking" noise coming from the driver's side front wheel. I happened to know what it was, as I had experienced this once before.
The wheel was not attached properly, and the nuts were loose. Another 10 minutes of driving, it would've popped off and rolled down the road. (Again, this has happened to me before and narrowly missed going into someone's windshield - Thankfully that incident resulted only in damage to my wheel and lower arm joint.)
I pulled over, tightened the nuts, and drove it the last mile home. I contacted the dealer and told them I would be exercising the 7-day guarantee - I would not be purchasing the vehicle.
When it was picked up, I told them on no uncertain terms that the vehicle was not fit to drive until the wheels were inspected by a professional.
In addition to this, the company that sold me the car has a "150 point checklist" that specifically claims to have addressed these exact deficient items on the car.
My question is, had the wheel come off and caused horrible damage to life and property, who would have been held responsible? The car was not yet registered in my name as it was in a "Test drive period", I did have insurance, and the problem would not have been my fault (as far as I am concerned, at least. . But what does the law think?)
Even though this is a hypothetical, it came very close to happening. If it's relevant, this would've taken place in Texas, United States.