The Spring has sprung and more and more folks are aching to get behind the wheel of a new car, or at least a car that is “new to you.” In this troubled economical climate, drivers are turning toward used cars at record numbers and that is certainly understandable. What is NOT understandable is why consumers purchase these used cars without doing a sizable amount of homework and research. Here are some things you MUST DO to ensure your sweet used car does not turn out to be a sour lemon in disguise.
1) We have repeatedly spoken about hiring an outside mechanic to give your car a once-over prior to making your final decision. Yes, it will cost you a hundred or two, but that could save you thousands down the road. If the outside mechanic lifts a read flag, it’s time for you to throw in the flag and not commit. DO NOT SETTLE FOR IOU’s OR EMPTY PROMISES TO FIX SOMETHING LATER. You would be amazed how many folks drive off in a car with the check engine light on. You are heading down the highway of disaster.
2) Ask away. You want to be asking about accident history, where the car came from, how many owners, etc. Our Lemon Dodger worksheet provides a perfect checklist of questions to ensure that your pre-owned car is not riddled with pre-owned problems.
3) Head out on the highway. You want to be taking the car on a long test drive and making sure you understand how every feature works BEFORE signing on the dotted line.
4) Ask for a copy of every single piece of paper you sign. Contracts, odometer statements, lemon law sheets. Dealers do come back and try to change the terms from time to time. You want to have a copy of of your original contract stored away to protect you if they try to pull a fast one.
5) And what about the warranty? Of course, we always endorse making sure your car comes with either the remainder of/and or an extended manufacturers warranty. This means that you can bring the car to an authorized manufacturers dealership staffed by manufacturer trained mechanics. They have access to silent warranties, technical service bulletins and recalls. Plus, if you have a continued problem which cannot be addressed or is finally fixed after repeated repairs, you have the right to monetary compensation under the Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.
Regardless of whether the car is new or used, this is a significant investment. Keep your eyes open and be aware of what is happening at all times. Remember, an educated buyer is an effective buyer.