1. Buyers don’t get the facts on a specific used car before they buy.
Before you get serious about any one car, it’s important to get the facts concerning:
Reliability and Repair Record
Consumer Reports offers a section in their annual Buying Guide entitled "Frequency of Repair Records." You’ll get an excellent picture of the repair records of the vast majority of recent model used cars.
If the Car Has Been Subjected to a Recall
Consumer Guide – Auto Series, publishes a Used Car Rating Guide which offers a general assessment of individual used cars, technical data, price ranges and a detailed description of the recall history.
Owner Satisfaction with the Car
In addition to speaking directly with friends who have owned the car you’re considering, you might also want to turn again to Consumer Reports. It offers charts showing how their subscribers rated their satisfaction with recent model cars.
2. Buyers fall in love with the car in front of sellers.
Far too many consumers fall in love with a particular car and let their desire to own that car cloud their better judgment. Once a car seller – especially a professional – knows a person is hooked on a car, that person has all but abandoned the opportunity to negotiate a good deal.
3. Buyers fail to give the car a "full" inspection.
Most used car buyers don’t take the time or make the effort to thoroughly check out the car. This includes having it inspected by a third-party, independent mechanic. Neglecting this step often results in costly repair bills or worse, owning a car that is not worth fixing. As part of the inspection process, it pays to order a CARFAX report on the car you’re considering.
4. Buyers don’t take the time to understand their used car warranties.
If a franchise dealer offers a warranty and the warranty actually covers a substantial number of items, your risk is usually moderate to low. You will want to understand the warranty in terms of what’s covered and for how long. With few exceptions, you don’t want to trust the current condition of the car to the future protection of the sellers’ warranty unless the car is still under the original factory warranty.
5. Buyers sign the check before checking everything!
Before you sit down to complete the paperwork, take a walk around the car. Check to see if there are any new dents or dings on the vehicle. Open the hood and check to be sure that there are no oil leaks that might have developed. If repairs or maintenance were to be performed, ask for proof that it was done as agreed. Then take the car out for one last test drive
Before you Sign:
1. Read everything . . . twice!
2. Verify that anything you sign has all the blanks filled in.
3. Verify that the wording on any agreement, bill of sale and/or warranty is specific, clear and exact in its meaning.
4. An Odometer Mileage Statement must be provided stating that, to the best of the seller’s knowledge, the odometer has not been subjected to tampering with. The odometer statement can be made part of the bill of sale. [In some states, this is part of the title.]
5. Verify you fully understand and agree with the warranty if it has one.
6. Bill of sale should include the following items:
— Date of sale
— Year, make and model description
— Tag number and state of registration
— Vehicle Identification Number (Check it against the VIN # on the title.)
— Odometer reading
— Amount paid for car and type of payment
— Conditions of the sale, if any
— Sellers and buyer’s names, addresses and phone numbers
One more thing
Buyers make a big mistake when they’re not prepared to "walk away" from the deal. If it doesn’t feel right, if something seems amiss, if your "gut" seems to be telling you that your prospective purchase is a mistake . . . walk away. You can always find another car. Your money is harder to replace.
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