Doing Your Research Before Buying a Used Car

Auto Fraud Attorney

Buying a car is not always an easy task. In fact, sometimes, it is trickier than one would think. There are many items to consider. If you are purchasing a new car, most of your decisions will be limited to the make, model, color, features, and whether you are paying cash or financing via a bank or dealership. Buying a used car creates a myriad of more complex issues to consider because no two used cars were ever maintained in the same way. Read on for tips to help you navigate the process. And no matter where you purchase your used vehicle, due diligence must be performed.

It sounds like novel advice, but do not buy the first car you see. There are a multitude of resources at your disposal, so use these tools and make a smart decision.

  • Never sign an agreement to buy a car “as is”. This basically gives the seller carte blanche to sell you whatever they want and then lie and tell you they disclosed information or deny they had previous knowledge when an issue arises.
  • Do not rely on Lemon laws. Typically, Lemon laws only protect new car purchases, and a typical Lemon Law only applies to the first two years and the first 24,000 miles. Don’t assume you will be covered for a used car purchase. 
  • An unbiased product testing publication such as Consumer Reports will show you test results and comparisons for everything from reliability, ride comfort, accessibility, safety features, acceleration, MPG ratings, and more. www.consumerreports.org 
  • Car valuation services such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds can both help you gauge the true value of a used car with minimal input and can also tailor the results for your specific location. www.kbb.com and www.edmunds.com 
  • Using a vehicle history reporting service such as CarFax or AutoCheck to pull a vehicle’s crash history can help you make sure that the vehicle was not previously damaged, salvaged, or worse, totaled, and is unsafe to drive. Sadly, there are body shops out there that will rebuild or repair a car to make it look like it was never damaged, when, in fact, it may be undrivable.  www.carfax.com 
  • Services like VINCHECK from the National Insurance Crime Bureau allow you to check if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle. VINCHECK is a free service. https://www.nicb.org/vincheck 
  • The final, and most important, item on your used car checklist is to take the vehicle to a certified mechanic that you trust for a thorough check up. This will ensure you know exactly what you are getting and if there are any underlying issues.

If you have already purchased a used car and feel that you have been the victim of a fraudulent auto sale or are having issues you think the dealership knew about in advance, contact an auto fraud attorney today.