Advice Before Buying a Used Car
What will be the cost of owning the used car?
Although a used car may be cheaper to buy than a new car, the overall cost of ownership may actually be higher. Used cars tend to require more maintenance than a new car, the used car may not have a manufacturer’s warranty, and the used car may be inefficient in gas mileage. Make sure you review the total cost of ownership for the used car.
If buying from a dealer, review the Buyers Guide
Every dealer selling used cars must post a Buyers Guide on the window. The Buyers Guide details whether or not a warranty is included, whether an independent mechanic has inspected the vehicle, and whether the vehicle is being sold “As Is”. In other words, the dealer is making no representations about the mechanical fitness of the vehicle. The Buyers Guide becomes part of the sales contract that you sign with the dealer.
What kind of dealer is selling the used car?
There are two types of used car dealers - - franchised and independent. A franchised used car dealer is owned by a franchised new car dealer and has a franchise contract with an automobile manufacturer. An independent auto dealer does not have a franchise agreement with a manufacturer. There are thousands of independent used car dealers selling used cars from attractive dealerships to “dirt lots”. Many finance companies will not finance a used car from an independent dealer so you need to be careful in selecting a dealer.
What is the difference between an implied warranty and a dealer warranty?
Some states recognize implied warranties whether or not the dealer is selling the used car “As Is”. One implied warranty is the fact that the dealer implies that the car will function and run. States that do not permit “As Is” will generally have an Implied Warranty on the Buyers Guide.
Dealers will often offer their own warranties and if they do, these warranties must be included in the warranty section of the Buyers Guide. The dealer may provide full or partial warranties, a warranty for a certain time period, the ability to transfer the warranty, and the parts that will be covered under warranty. What ever the dealer tells you, get it in writing and make sure it is included in the Buyer’s Guide.
Inspect the vehicle before you buy it.
For less than $100 you can have the vehicle inspected by a licensed auto mechanic. Unless the vehicle is relatively new, you should have it inspected to ensure that it will run and be safe. If the mechanic finds problems, the dealer will often repair the vehicle at his own expense.
Is the Odometer on the vehicle correct or has the vehicle been a salvage vehicle?
Up until 5 to 7 years ago, many odometers on used cars had been “rolled back”. For example, the vehicle may have had 124,000 miles but the odometer was rolled back to 24,000. Rolling back an odometer is a criminal offense but it still happens. In addition, many used cars were totaled in a wreck or damaged by flood. These cars are referred to as salvage cars. Ask the dealer to run a Carfax report on your vehicle to ensure neither of these problems exists. You can also get the information from Carfax site.