We have been receiving a number of e-mails and phone calls lately regarding older cars. Buying a used car is a tremendous gamble and it you’re not careful, your dream car may have previously been someone else’s nightmare. Here are a few tips to make sure you are not taken for a ride when buying your next used car:
1) You want a warranty–and not just any warranty. It must be a manufacturers warranty. Yes, we realize that it may cost a bit more, but that is the only way the car company will stand behind your vehicle. If you have a manufacturers warranty, your problems will be addressed by mechanics who are trained by the company and have access to information and tools that outside mechanics may not have. Furthermore, if you have continuous problems with the car, we can successfully go after the manufacturer for remedy under Federal law. We cannot hold the manufacturer responsible if you are no longer under the manufacturers warranty. That’s like asking the doctor to treat you after your insurance lapses.
2) When it comes to accidents, it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If you do not specifically ask if a car has been in an accident, the dealer does not need to disclose the fact. And, unfortunately, asking for a carfax is not enough. There are times where accidents do not appear on the carfax report and the dealer cannot be held responsible for this. However, if you ask if a car has been in an accident and the dealer says “no,” they can be held responsible if you find out they are not telling the truth. On the flip side, dealers MUST disclose if the car has a salvage or reconstructed title, any flood history, or if it was a manufacturers buyback (aka “a lemon”).
3) If you are buying an “as-is” car (which we never endorse), make sure you have an outside mechanic inspect the car BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. We understand this could cost a few bucks, but $100 now could save $1,000 or more down the road.
Lastly, take our lemon dodger worksheet with you when purchasing your car. It provides you with all the questions you need to ask when buying a pre-owned car. Remember, an educated consumer is an effective consumer. Happy buying!