Buying A Used Car Without Being Taken For A Ride

May 26, 2010
By: Robert Silverman

There is no doubt that we are all looking for ways to save money and that should extend to car buying. You can save considerably when purchasing a used car versus a new car. That being said, you need to prepare yourself to make sure that the dream car you purchased was not someone else’s nightmare.

First, when buying a used car, you MUST ask questions. Do not be shy. Did you know that a dealer does not have to disclose that a car has been in an accident unless they are asked? They don’t have to disclose the car is a previous rental, repo or fleet car either. You need to inquire about anything and everything. You also need to run a vehicle history report to ensure the car does not have a salvage or lemon history.

We like Experian’s Autocheck, which offers unlimited monthly reports for $44.99. And you should consider hiring an outside mechanic to inspect the vehicle prior to signing on the dotted line. This is a simple $100 investment which could save you thousands down the road.

Make sure you inquire about the warranty. Ideally, you want to make sure you have a manufacturers warranty. Dealer and third party warranties often cover very little and have a great deal of fine print. Understand the terms of your warranty and its coverage. Furthermore, if you have a car under a manufacturers warranty, and you are back three or more times for the same problem, you could be entitled to monetary compensation under the Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act we are always talking about.

Lastly, we recommend that you print out a copy of our Lemon Dodger worksheet, which lays out all the information you need to know before taking the car off the lot. We know it may seem excessive, but it will help you tremendously.

Remember, an educated consumer is an effective consumer and you certainly don’t want to be steered toward a lemon.

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3 Responses to “Buying A Used Car Without Being Taken For A Ride”

  1. #1 Allegra Mclaughlin says:

    I’m a first time car buyer and I wish I had known this informaion before I bought my vehicle.

    • #2 Ray says:

      How accurate is carfax report? Bought a BMW last year. Now it’s nothing headaches. Some said the car was in an accident. Carfax states no accident and one owner.


      • State: Ny
    • #3 LemonLaw says:

      @Ray: carfax sometimes receives information much later on. It can be a tool in the car buying tool box but never solely rely on that document.

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