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Buying a used car can be exciting, stressful, and convenient for a consumer living on a budget and trying to save money. Many consumers are fearful about overpaying for a new used vehicle and buying an unreliable vehicle that will need repairs and extra maintenance. The lawyers at Doucet & Associate Co., L.P.A. have experience fighting car dealerships for selling misleading, defective used vehicles to consumers and violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA). Below are some tips and tricks for consumers shopping for used cars to follow to help better protect themselves from buying a malfunctioning used vehicle.
Do your research before buying!
Decide what vehicle features and characteristics are most important to you before you start shopping. There are so many different makes, models, and brands of cars that test driving every car would be time consuming. You should also research the dealership you plan to buy the used vehicle from. Read the dealerships reviews and see if other consumers have been happy with the used vehicles they purchased.
It is also important to check prices of used vehicles online. Websites like Kelley Blue Book, Nada, and Edmunds let you check and compare the prices of used vehicles for many different makes, models, and years. Using these websites can help you determine the types of vehicles that you may be able to afford before you start shopping. These websites can also help you pinpoint vehicles you should avoid because they are overpriced at the dealerships.
What does it mean if your vehicle is sold “as is”?
You should take precautions when buying used vehicles sold “as is”. Used vehicles are not protected by the Ohio Lemon Laws, but the car may be under warranty. When a vehicle is sold “as is”, it means the vehicle is being sold in its current condition. You, as the new owner, are accepting all responsibilities for known and unknown problems with the vehicle after the transaction has been made. Dealerships selling used cars “as is” must clearly state and tell consumers about the “as is” policy before they agree to buy the car. There is no 3 day right to cancel a car purchase in Ohio.
Test drive the car!
Driving the car before you buy it is important! Every car drives and feels a little different. A driver has different perspectives of the road depending on how large the car is and how high the seats are. When test driving a used vehicle, you should try to drive it on many different types of road ways. Drive the car on a highway, on a curvy country road, a wet surface, a bumpy road, and any other types of roads the dealership will let you drive the vehicle before buying.
It may also be a good idea to test drive the car to a mechanic for an inspection. If you are planning to spend a couple grand on a used vehicle, paying for an extra inspection could save you from having to fix an expensive problem in the future. If the dealership refuses to let you get the vehicle inspected at a mechanic of your choice, you may be better buying a car from a different dealership that will let get the car reviewed.
Does the car have a history?
Using the vehicle identification number (VIN), you can check the cars history on websites like CarFax and AutoCheck. A vehicle history report will include information about ownership changes, accident reports, repairs and mileage. Most dealerships are willing to provide this information for you.
You can also check the condition of the car for clues the car was involved in an accident or has a problem and needs fixed. By using a magnet, you can check for fillers in the metal parts of the car body. If the magnet does not stick to the metal, then it is likely a filler was used while repairing the car. You can look for excess paint that was accidently sprayed on doorjambs, in the trunk, and in the engine area. Over spraying paint can be a sign the car has been repaired and repainted. You should also look under the car for any suspicious leaks and puddles.
Review any contracts you sign!
It is beneficial to read and understand all warranty, loan, and service contracts when you are buying a used car from a dealership. A warranty is a guarantee given to the consumer by the seller or manufacturer promising to make repairs if necessary. There are many different types of warranties so it is important to understand what types of repairs are included. A vehicle service contract can usually be purchased by consumers when buying a car to help reduce the costs of repairs after a warranty expires.
A loan contract will include all information regarding interest rates and other fees. If the lender does not provide you with this information before you sign any contracts and agree to buy the car, then the lender is violating the Truth In Lending Act (TILA). The TILA was created to protect consumers signing contracts with creditors and lenders. The lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. are well educated about consumer rights under the TILA. You can read more information about the TILA regarding consumers and loans in 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.
Card skimming is the act of stealing valuable credit or debit card information by using an illegal card reader called a skimming device at ATM machines, gas pumps and other machines. If you swipe or insert a card into a skimming device, important information is stolen from the magnetic strip which allows thieves to illegally access your account and make unauthorized charges. Knowing how to recognize card skimming devices and understanding your liability for fraudulent charges under the Truth In Lending Act (TILA) and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) can help you avoid being responsible for illegal, fake charges.
What does a card skimmer look like?
Card skimming devices steal information from the magnetic strip and fit over the real card readers. They are often thinner than a deck of cards. Typically, if the insert arrows below the card reader are really close to where you insert your card, that is a sign there could be a card skimming device installed on top of the real card reader. It is important to check to see if any part of the card reader is detachable or loose. A real card reader does not have loose or detachable parts.
Watch out for hidden cameras
Thieves who use card skimmers are also known to steal pin numbers by placing hidden cameras near the keypad. A camera can be a sign that there is a skimming device also illegally placed over the card reader. You can help protect your pin number by checking the keypad area for a hidden camera. If you find a hidden camera you should immediately avoid using that specific machine and report it to the police. If there is a hidden camera and a card skimming device, then the thief has to return to the machine to collect the stolen data. Card skimming devices are not known to wirelessly transmit data back to the thief.
Limitation of Liability for Misuse and Fraudulent Charges
To reduce skimming the United States started to transition to EMV chip cards. But, during the transition period, debit and credit cards still have a magnetic strip on the back storing valuable information that can be stolen. The TILA protects credit cards and states that credit card holders could be liable for up to $50 max of a fraudulent charge if reported to the credit card company in a timely manner. The EFTA protects consumers whose debit card information is stolen and used for fake charges. Under the EFTA a consumer may be held liable for up to $500 max if the fraudulent charge is reported to the bank within a timely manner. As a consumer, you should have been informed about how to report fake charges to your bank or card company when you signed up for a credit or debit card.
If you are being denied your right to report a fraudulent charge, your TILA rights and EFTA rights may be violated. The lawyers at Doucet & Associates have experience handling lawsuits involving the TILA and the EFTA and may be able to help you. Contact us today at (614)944-5219 for legal assistance or send us a message online by clicking here. You can also click here to learn more about our free 1-hour presentations if you would like to have a guest speaker form our law firm visit you and present related information to a group of people for you.
The lawyers at Doucet & Associates help people going through some very tough times. Here, Tim tells us about a client only 3 days away from being forcibly removed from her home.
Troy has sold over 10,000 copies of this book since it was first published. The law is still good on almost every subject, and has expanded with regards to RESPA and TILA. This manual is still a must-have manual for anyone fighting foreclosure. Pick up your copy at
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. has revamped its website with a new design and new look. Check out the changes at https://www.doucet.law!
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