Before you buy a used vehicle from an individual, dealer or a certified pre-owned. Be sure you know and understand each of the "top 10" myths and mistakes other buyers have made. Any one of the following items can cause a financial nightmare when purchasing a used vehicle.
Any Automotive Technician or shop can say they perform pre-purchase inspections (PPI). However, there are no PPI standards, and most Automotive Technicians are not qualified to perform a complete PPI. Learn more about getting a PPI here.
#2 Verbal statements about the used vehicle
are NOT enforceable.
Many consumers have been talked out of a pre-purchase inspection and into buying a bad car by the seller/salesperson only to discover what was told about the vehicle was not true.
Here are a few examples:
1) It has clean Carfax and it’s never been in an accident.
2) Don’t waste your money. We had our mechanics do a XXX-point inspection and everything is fine.
3) You don’t need an inspection; the vehicle has a warranty.
4) Hey, the car is in great shape, save yourself the $150 and take your spouse out to a nice dinner.
Not all salespeople/sellers are bad. But the less the buyer knows about the vehicle, the more money they can make.
Any verbal representation of the vehicle’s condition by the seller/salesperson is not enforceable in court. It is the buyers’ responsibly to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase. You cannot negotiate your best deal until you know the current condition of every component and system.
#3 Vehicle History Reports
Carfax & AutoCheck admit that most vehicle accidents will never show up on their reports. A vehicle history report cannot tell the buyer of any existing or potential mechanical or electrical problems, or the quality of any previous repairs, including any accident repairs. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can discover needed repairs, abuse, and previous accident damages. A clean “History Report” does not mean it is a good used car.
#4 Certified Vehicles
There is no quality standard or inspection standard for "Certified" or “Certified Pre-Owned" (CPO) vehicles. Be aware that certifications standards, inspection standards, and warranties can vary greatly from dealer to dealer. As with any warranty, used car buyers must know what systems are covered and not covered and for what length of time. A professional pre-purchase inspection is still required to determine existing problems that are not covered under the limited warranty.
#5 Used Car Values
There are many web sites and publications that give used car values. These pricing guides and web sites calculate used car prices based upon current sales in your region plus additions for optional equipment and deductions for excessive miles. These web sites and publications cannot give deductions for any existing mechanical problems or previous accident damages. The true value of a used vehicle is the book value minus any needed repairs, abuse, or previous accident damage. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can discover needed repairs, abuse, and previous accident damages.
#6 Frame Damaged and Flooded Vehicles
It is estimated that 1 in 14 vehicles on the road today are rebuilt from salvage and that 40% of all frame repairs are substandard. Many frame damage and flooded vehicles have clean titles and were never reported to the DMV, Carfax or AutoCheck. Only a physical professional inspection can determine if the vehicle has previous accident or flood damage.
#7 Odometer Fraud
It is estimated that 1 in 4 used vehicles have odometer discrepancies. Vehicles with altered miles or excessive wear and tear will be worth much less than book value. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can determine if the wear and tear on the vehicle is consistent with the odometer reading.
#8 The "AS-IS" Document
When purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer, all buyers are required to sign the “AS-IS” document. The “AS IS” document has two check boxes, “Warranty” and “AS-IS No Warranty”. If the “AS IS” box is checked, used car buyers are responsible for all problems after the purchase. If the “Warranty” box is checked, the dealer will offer some sort of warranty for a specific time. Only the items written on the “AS-IS” document are under warranty. As with any warranty, buyers must understand what components and/or systems are not covered. It is the buyers’ responsibility to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase. It is the buyers’ responsibly to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase.
#9 Automatic Warranty
There is no automatic warranty when purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer. Dealers may offer some sort of limited warranty. Be sure you understand which components and/or systems are covered, and not covered, and for what length of time. Most warranties are very limited and do not cover many of the mechanical and electrical systems. It is the buyers’ responsibility to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase.
#10 Take Back Period and the Lemon Law
In Texas, there is no Lemon Law for used vehicles in Texas or an automatic 3-day take back period. Once you sign the sales documents, any existing problems with the vehicle are now your problems. It is the buyers’ responsibility to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase.
Regardless of what make or model of used vehicle you buy, or if you buy it from a dealer, individual, or if it’s a certified pre-owned, the #1 reason buyers purchased used vehicles with existing problems is the buyers’ failure to determine the TRUE condition of the vehicle.
A professional pre-purchase inspection is the most important part of the used car buying process. Make sure your PPI is performed by an ASE Master Technician and Frame Specialist.