A consumer buys a used car. Soon after, the car malfunctions or fails to pass an inspection. Sound familiar? The BBB has received 26,000 complaints like it in the past three years.
Follow the six steps below stay in the driver’s seat during your next purchase.
- Do your research. While there are many reputable new and use auto dealers, always check out the dealer at bbb.org. Once you’ve found a car that you like, do a VIN search to be sure the vehicle has not been reported as stolen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers free VIN checks. Also, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see if the car you are considering has been recalled. Ask to see a copy of the title.
- Have it inspected. Ask a trusted mechanic to inspect the vehicle for defects or mechanical issues.
- Apply for separate financing. Get pre-approved for financing through your local bank or credit union. These will typically offer a better interest rate and payment terms.
- Sell your old car separately. Although it may seem more convenient to simply trade your old car in with the dealer, selling your car separately will give you the best return.
- Beware of extended “test drive” offers. If you choose to finance through the dealership, don’t agree to an offer to take a car for an overnight test drive. Once driven off the lot, a disreputable company may try to force you to buy the car under less than agreeable terms.
- Remember your personal safety. If you are purchasing from or selling your used car to an individual rather than a dealership, be sure to take someone with you and carry out all transactions in a secure place, such as a police station. Never wire money or place a deposit in an escrow account that you don’t know and trust. Sources: Mesa Independent & Arizona Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division
To learn more, go to Arizona Attorney General Shares 7 Auto Scams to Avoid And Resources to Protect Consumers and Auto Purchases.
Better Business Bureau serving North Alabama