In this economy, buying a used car is a solid economic choice.  But if you do not know how to buy a good used car, you could be putting you and your family at risk.  While it is by no means a perfect solution, check out our car accident lawyers’ recommended used car buying checklist.

Automobile accidents can be worse with an older car as older cars tend to breakdown and possess worn parts.

Here is our car accident lawyers’ used car buyer’s checklist.

1.  There is a big difference in buying from a dealer versus buying from a seller. Dealers are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whose Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car.  The Buyers Guide will let you know if the used car comes with a warranty, advises you on safe buying practices and also lists any known mechanical and electrical problems at the time of sale.

Private sellers, meanwhile, are not regulated by the FTC and usually are not covered by the “implied warranties” of state law.  This means a private sale will probably be on an “as is” basis, unless your agreement with the seller specifically states otherwise.  Private sellers are also not required to make sure a vehicle passes inspection — or carry a minimum warranty — in many states.

2.  Does the used car come with a warranty? The Buyers Guide should display what kind of warranty is on the car if the car is comes with one, and there are three types of warranties for used cars:

  • As Is/No Warranty
  • Implied Warranty
  • Full Warranty

3.  Consider a service contract. Like a warranty, a service contract provides repair and/or maintenance for a certain period.  Warranties are included in a car’s price, but a service contract costs extra and is sold separately.

When determining whether or not to buy a service contract, consider a few things:

  • Does the service contract duplicate the warranty or does it begin after the warranty runs out?
  • Is the vehicle likely to need repairs?
  • Does the service contract cover all parts and systems of the car?
  • Is the dealer offering the service contract reputable?

4.  Avoid spoken promises. The FTC recommends that you always avoid spoken promises.  Spoken promises are hard to enforce and are not easily proven in court.

If a dealer makes a promise, have it written on your Buyers Guide.

5.  Have your own mechanic inspect the car. You should always have a used car inspected by an independent mechanic before you make a used car purchase.  Even though you may be sending your mechanic a certified used car, certified used cars are only inspected to see if a car is safe to drive.  Your mechanic can look deeper and give you a good indication of a used car’s value under the hood.

Finding a pre-purchase inspection facility is easy.  For about $100, you can get a general idea of the condition of the car.

6.  Find a mobile inspection service if necessary. If the dealer will not let you take the car off the lot, you may be able to find a mobile inspection service that will go to the dealer.  Either way, ask your mechanic for a written report on the following:

  • Cost estimate for necessary repairs.
  • Used car’s make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN).

Of course, be sure to use that repair estimate to negotiate the price of the car.

7.  Take all necessary precautions when buying a used car. No matter where you buy a used car, you should always take every precaution necessary before making your used car purchase.  If you think that your used car caused an accident, then contact our bilingual San Diego law firm at 1-858-551-2090 for a FREE consultation with a car accident attorney.  You may also click here to submit your case for a FREE online review.

You owe nothing until we win your case.

Source: Federal Trade Commission’s Facts for Consumers on Buying a Used Car