Used cars are sold through a variety of outlets: franchise and independent dealers, rental-car companies, leasing companies and used car superstores . You can even buy a used car on the Internet. Ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. You may want to call your local consumer protection agency, state attorney general and the Better Business Bureau to find out if any unresolved complaints are on file about a particular dealer.
Some dealers are attracting customers with "no-haggle prices," "factory-certified" used cars and better warranties. Consider the dealer's reputation when you evaluate these ads.
Dealers are not required by law to give used car buyers a three-day right to cancel. The right to return the car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers. Dealers may describe the right to cancel as a "cooling-off" period, a money-back guarantee or a "no questions asked" return policy. Before you purchase from a dealer, ask about the dealer's return policy, get it in writing and read it carefully.
The Federal Trade Commission's Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyer’s Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators and program cars. Demonstrators are new cars that have not been owned, leased or used as rentals, but have been driven by dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals. Buyer’s Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells less than six cars a year doesn't have to post a Buyer’s Guide.
The Buyer’s Guide must tell you:
- Whether the vehicle is being sold "as-is" or with a warranty;
- What percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty;
- That spoken promises are difficult to enforce;
- To get all promises in writing;
- To keep the Buyer’s Guide for reference after the sale;
- The major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for; and
- To ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.
When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyer’s Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Guide must reflect any negotiated changes in warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyer’s Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold "as-is," the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide. Buying a Used Car: Before You BuyBuying a Used Car: Private SalesBuying a Used Car: Payment OptionsBuying a Used Car: Warranties and Service ContractsBuying a Used Car: If You Have Problems