Consumers for
Auto
Reliability and
Safety ®

Resources for Car Buyers

Look up Safety Recalls
Be sure to ALWAYS check the safety recall status of any car before you buy. If it has a safety recall pending, it could KILL you and your passengers. It's basically a ticking time bomb. Don't buy it until AFTER the recall repairs have been performed. People have been killed or seriously injured within hours or days of buying a car with safety defects that led to a recall. According to Carmax, there are 36 million vehicles on the road today that have unrepaired safety recalls. Typical problems that trigger safety recalls:
  • brakes that fail
  • axles that fall apart
  • vehicles that burst into flames without warning
  • air bags that explode when there's no crash
  • steering loss
  • cars that die in traffic
  • seat belts that don't work
Also visit this site to find out whether the car you own now has a recall that was never fixed. All it takes is the Vehicle Identification Number. That's on the dashboard, and also on a sticker on the driver's door jamb. Or if you already own the car, it's on your registration and also on your car insurance documents.
 

 
Expert tips for how to buy a used car
Save thousands of dollars
Get a better, safer car
Avoid common auto dealer scams
To make sure that your hard earned money buys you a car that is safe and that you can feel assured is a good value for the money you spent, follow these guidelines so that you can be prepared before you sign that bill of sale.
 
Dealers HATE it when you use these tips:
 

 
New list of safer cars for teenagers, starting around $4000
Teenagers are more likely to die in a car crash than any other way. How can you reduce the risks yout teenager faces behind the wheel of his or her first car? Start by getting a car that has vitally important safety features that reduce the risk of being in a crash, and that offer protection if they do crash.
 

 
How to buy a new or used car without getting ripped off:
 

 
NHTSA Crash Testing
Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety photo.
Get auto safety information:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Find out about vehicle safety recalls. Get advice about safer cars for teenagers. Check crash tests results. Learn about how to properly secure child safety seats. Get technical service bulletins from auto manufacturers that document common problems. File a safety complaint.
 

 
Search vehicle history:
Don't get stuck with an unsafe rebuilt wreck. Check here before you buy. The U.S. Department of Justice established this database to provide lifesaving information about cars so severely damaged they were "totaled" by insurance companies. This is the most important used car database, and it's also the least expensive. No other database has the same information. Note: Even if a car has a "clean" vehicle history report, get it inspected by a trusted technician and body shop before you agree to buy it, and take it for a test drive. An online check is only the first step.
 

 

Find a consumer attorney:
The National Association of Consumer Attorneys lists pro-consumer attorneys by state and area of expertise. Many are willing to talk with consumers for free and give you some idea what your rights are. Be sure to ask them if they will represent you on a contingency basis, which makes getting legal help more affordable and less risky for you. Many consumer protection laws provide for you to get your attorneys fees paid by the business that harmed you, if/when you win.
 

 
NHTSA Crash Testing
C.A.R.S. archive photo.
Find a reliable mechanic:
National Public Radio's Car Talk's Mechanics Files is a great place to find a skilled auto technician who gets rave reviews. Look here before you go car shopping, to find auto experts who will give cars a thorough inspection before you buy. You're going to need a reliable mechanic anyway. Shop for the mechanic before you shop for the car, and save yourself a lot of money and headaches.
 

 
NHTSA Crash Testing
Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety photo.
Get more auto safety information:
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performs more crash tests and makes recommendations for safer cars. Find ratings of child booster seats. Find which cars offer better protection from whiplash or other devastating injuries from rear-end collisions. Learn which cars have energy-absorbing bumpers that can save you thousands in repair costs.
 

 
Resources for U.S. Veterans:
Free resources specifically for military service members and veterans. Find out how to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. Get advice on how to spot scammers who use promises of money and fake checks to lure victims into sending them real money. Video and tips about how to protect yourself and your family from ID theft and fraud.

Veterans Financial Coalition is a diverse group of organizations with the shared goal of serving the financial education and consumer protection needs of veterans. The coalition’s mission is to assist and promote resources to a growing population of veterans, provide financial education for veterans and community organizations serving veterans, and raise awareness of the unique financial challenges our nation’s veterans face.
 

 
LawHelp.org
Find free or low-cost legal aid:
LawHelp helps people of low and moderate incomes find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers to questions about their legal rights and forms to help them with their legal problems.
 

 
 
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C.A.R.S. Mission
CARS is a national, award-winning,
non-profit auto safety and consumer
advocacy organization working to
save lives, prevent injuries, and
protect consumers from
auto-related fraud and abuse.

THANK YOU!
to everyone who has supported CARS' work, including the more than 573,500 people who have contributed financially to CARS, signed or shared CARS' petitions, and / or posted personal comments.

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CarMax sells cars with deadly
safety defects.
More than 630,000 viewers have
watched this ABC 20/20 excerpt
on CARS' YouTube channel,
catching CarMax on camera:

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Sign C.A.R.S.' petition: Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers
 

 
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
forced arbitration
to get away with cheating customers
Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
See the billboard CARS displayed
right next to Mossy Toyota's car lot,
and read more about how Jon finally won.

 
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