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Buying an Used Car

ASKED BY:

JE Vizzusi

FSC MEMBER:

Yes

CATEGORY:

Other

TAGS:

used car,auto auction,car dealers,auto scams

Question

Dear Gil,

In the next few months I will be ready to buy a lower mileage used car. I’m in Central Florida and every Dealer I have checked so far the vehicle I have interest in was purchased from a Auto Auction with past multiple titles. I asked the dealer’s to disclose the Auction Invoice and condition reports at time of purchase and they all run away. Can you recommend a sure fire way to protect myself from buying a used lemon?

Best

JEV

Answer

Hello Mr. Vizzusi,

Sadly there is no sure fire way to protect yourself when buying any used car… as they say… Buyer beware! The fact is that CARFAX only has records for the work that has been reported.  If a shop does not report a repair, the buyer has no way to discover the repair.  In my opinion, a dealer will most likely avoid revealing to you their auction invoice.  More-so to side-step pricing information.

As to vehicle condition reports, there are very few auctions that actually have a mechanic to check the car for the buying dealer.  Most are performed to determine if the vehicle will function properly and are not in-depth.  The task of checking the car is usually left to the buying dealer.

There is an inherent risk when buying a used car, some of the things that you can do are the following:

  • Get a CARFAX report, even if it is incomplete it should give you some information and it is a good litmus test, if the dealer is unwilling to provide you with one by all means, spend the few extra bucks to protect yourself.
  • Have a reputable independent shop or the dealership, (if you are not buying from them), perform an inspection. If the seller is unwilling to permit an independent inspection performed, then consider walking away.
  • Drive the car. Determine how it feels to you. Is there a noise? A vibration? The best thing you can do is to ask for service records.
  • If you can discover the prior owner(s), attempt to contact them to learn as much about the vehicle as possible.

While there is inherent risk that comes with purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, there are some steps you can take to minimize some of that risk. In so doing there are pre-owned vehicles that have been afford the right care.

I hope this information helps you, good luck with your search.

Gil Neves

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dear Gil,

    I cannot thank you enough for your advise in which I consider gospel of the automotive repair industry.

    I’m speaking with my representative (Orange County, FL.) about establishing Legislation through DBPR so dealers must make public to customers that inquire any auto auction invoice the vehicle may carry.

    Wish me luck!

    Best

    JEV
    (Apopka)

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