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.