Consumers for
Auto
Reliability and
Safety

How to Buy a Used Car

 
TOP TWELVE TIPS FOR BUYING A USED CAR
Save thousands of dollars
Get a better, safer car
Avoid common auto dealer scams
 
NHTSA Crash Testing
1. Either save your money and pay cash
 
or
 
Join a local credit union and establish credit with them. It usually costs only about $25 to join. Ask them to help you improve your credit score, so you can get the best possible deal. Most credit unions offer courses in financial counseling and are happy to help members improve their credit scores. Sometimes a simple step, such as transferring a balance, can boost your score and save you a bundle.

2. Find the best cars in your price range, at Consumer Reports. Here's a list of vehicles recommended by Consumer Reports, from less than $4,000 to over $20,000:
Read the list of best used vehicles for under $20,000

3. Decide what make, model and year of car is the best deal for you. If you decide to get a loan, get it from your credit union or a bank -- NEVER from a dealer. Pre-qualify for a loan, before you shop for a car.

4. Check online sites or local newspapers for "by owner" ads for the make / model and model year you have selected.

NHTSA Crash Testing
5. Choose a car offered for sale by the owner. Beware of "curbstoners" -- shady dealers who pose as the owner, but are actually dealers. Avoid auto dealers. Buy locally. Avoid cars sold sight unseen or in a different state. Insist that the owner show you his or her identification and the title to the car. Make sure the names and addresses match. Insist on seeing past service records, and review how well the vehicle has been maintained. Contact the former repair shop and ask them if they know of any major repairs that need to be done.

6. Check out the vehicle history. Get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and enter it at www.vehiclehistory.gov. If you don't have access to a computer, ask a friend or reliable mechanic to check for you, and reimburse them the $4 to $7. If you want more details, you can also check private databases, but keep in mind they cost more. Remember: all databases have holes in them. A history search is only part of the story, and is NOT a substitute for an expert inspection.

7. Inspect the car closely yourself. Look for telltale signs of prior damage, such as:
  • Paint overspray
  • Stickers on the driver door jamb that show higher mileage than on the odometer
  • Work orders for repairs that show higher mileage than on the odometer
  • Ill-fitting parts, such as gaps between the doors and body, or a hood or trunk that doesn't close right
  • Shimmy in the steering wheel when you drive at freeway speeds
  • Tires that are worn unevenly
  • NHTSA Crash Testing
  • Car is out of alignment
  • Title brands noted on the title, such as "salvage," "junk," "flood," or "rebuilt" -- these vehicles tend to be very unsafe, and are worth far less than vehicles with "clean" titles. Keep in mind that a "clean" title does not mean the car wasn't damaged. Many states have very lax laws that allow junkers to evade title brands. Some crooks also alter or erase titles, to raise their profits from selling junkers.
  • Signs of flood damage:
  • Silt or rust in odd places, such as in crevices, the trunk, under carpeting
  • Electrical glitches (may be caused by corrosion from flooding)
  • Musty smell, mold or mildew

8. Have the car inspected by a reliable, trustworthy mechanic BEFORE you agree to buy or give the seller any money. To find a good mechanic, check out Car Talk's Mechanics Files -- with reviews written by other consumers -- at: www.cartalk.com/content/mechanics-files. Tell the seller where you want them to take the car, for the inspection. If you can get the time, go to the shop for the inspection.

9. Check for safety recalls. Make sure the mechanic checks to ensure that all the safety recall work has been performed. Many manufacturers also post recall information on their websites. If there are any recall repairs that have not been performed, tell the seller to take care of that before you buy, then ask for a copy of the work order from the dealer as proof of the repair. If in doubt, have the vehicle re-inspected to make sure the work was done properly.

10. AFTER the car checks out OK and the mechanic confirms that it's safe to drive, test-drive the car. Arrange to meet the owner at a safe, public place for the test drive, preferably during daylight. If you have family members or other passengers who will be riding with you, ask them to go with you for the test drive. If they're going to object to the car, better to know before you buy. If you plan to drive with children secured in the back seat, make sure their child safety seats fit properly. Consumer Reports provides more tips for how to make the most from a test drive, at: www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/car-buying-advice/guide-to-new-car-buying/at-the-dealership/the-test-drive/0702driv0.htm.

NHTSA Crash Testing
11. Negotiate a fair deal. IF the car checks out OK, ask the mechanic how much he thinks it's worth. Also check pricing services such as Kelly Blue Book or True Car. If the car needs more repairs, either have the seller pay to have it fixed, or offer them less. This is a major advantage to getting an expert inspection -- you are in a better position to negotiate a good deal.

12. Complete the sale. Contact your insurance company and make sure they're ready to cover you from the moment you put your key in the ignition -- or press the "start" button. Either pay with a cashier's check or get a check from your credit union for the price of the car, made out to the seller. Arrange with the seller to meet you at your local motor vehicle department or the AAA to do the paperwork. Be prepared to pay the applicable sales tax and licensing fees. Make sure that you get a receipt from the seller, and properly transfer the title.

Enjoy your newly purchased car

Drive Safely and Happily for a Long Time!!


 

 
4 rules for getting a car loan
 
Time / Moneyland
June 18, 2012
by Martha White
 
"If your credit is good, you still should not assume that you’ll qualify for the 0% financing offers many dealers dangle in their TV and radio ads, says Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. She says roughly nine out of 10 buyers never qualify for that and wind up paying a higher rate.

Shop Around

“Our number-one piece of advice for consumers is never, ever get your loan from the dealer,” Shahan says. It’s advice other consumer advocates echo.

“Get preapproved for financing before you set foot in the dealership,” says Chris Kukla, senior counsel for government affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending."

Read more: http://moneyland.time.com/2012/06/18/4-rules-for-getting-a-car-loan/#ixzz1yPWYunTd
 
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Stop California car dealers from selling
unsafe, unrepaired recalled used cars to consumers
Cars that ignite into flames, or with steering wheels that lock up, wheels that fall off, axles that break, or air bags that fail to inflate in a crash. All under a safety recall. None of them fixed. Just waiting for sale on a car lot near you.

Think this should be illegal?

Send a message to your state legislator:
Stop car dealers from selling unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers

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Buyer beware: NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done -- for FREE.

Plus -- dealers are actively opposing legislation in Washington, DC and in California that would prohibit them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed first.

CARS’ tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers playing “used car roulette” with customers’ lives — and opposing legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car? We want to hear your story. Contact CARS

 
Buyer Beware! Auto dealers' one-
sided contracts can ruin your life
Even if the dealer breaks the law, you might not be able to get justice. Forced arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print can keep you tied up for years. The dealer even gets to pick the arbitrator who hears your case. Here's what happened to a car buyer in San Diego:
Think this is outrageous? Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and urge them to vote for the Arbitration Fairness Act. More about the AFA, now pending before Congress:
http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org
 
Here's what we're doing to bring
more attention to Jon's plight:
UsedCarNightmare.org
 
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Jon Perz has started a new petition
on the Change.org website
 
You're invited to check it out and send a message letting Mossy Toyota know what you think.
used car nightmare petition


 
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