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August 06, 2014 | auto

10 Used Car Buying Myths & Mistakes

Here are 10 factors that can cause a financial nightmare when purchasing a used vehicle, whether from an individual, a car dealership, or even a certified pre-owned car dealer.

#10: Used Car Lemon Law

There is no used car lemon law in the state of Texas. Many used car buyers assume that since there is a new car lemon law, there must be a used car lemon law. Any verbal representation of the vehicle's condition by the seller/ salesperson is not enforceable in court. It is the buyer's responsibility to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase.

#9: Take Back Period

In Texas, there is no law or automatic 3-day take back period. Once you sign the sales documents, any existing problems with the vehicle are now your problems.

#8: Automatic Warranty

There is no automatic warranty when purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer. Dealers may offer some sort of limited warranty. Be sure you understand which components and/ or systems are covered and not covered, as well as the length of time they are covered. Most warranties are very limited and do not cover the majority of the mechanical and electrical systems.

#7: "AS-IS" Document

When purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer, all buyers are required to sign the "AS-IS" document. The "AS-IS" document has two check boxes: "Warranty" and "AS-IS No Warranty." If the "AS-IS" box is checked, used car buyers are responsible for all problems after the purchase. If the "Warranty" box is checked, the dealer will offer some sort of limited warranty for a specific time. Only the items written on the "AS-IS" document are under warranty. As with any warranty, buyers must understand what components and/ or systems are not covered.

#6: Odometer Fraud

It is estimated that 1 in 4 used vehicles have odometer discrepancies. Vehicles with altered miles or excessive wear and tear will be much less than book value. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can determine if the wear and tear on the vehicle is consistent with the odometer reading.

#5: Frame-Damaged and Flooded Vehicles

It is estimated that 1 in 14 vehicles on the road today are rebuilt from salvage and that 40% of all frame repairs are substandard. Many frame-damaged and flooded vehicles will never be reported to the DMV, therefore Carfax and AutoCheck will only show a clean title. Only a physical professional inspection can determine if the vehicle has previous accident or flood damage.

#4: Used Car Values

There are many websites and publications that give used car values. These pricing guides and websites calculate used car prices based on current sales in your region, plus additions for optional equipment and deductions for excessive miles. The true value of a used vehicle is the book value minus any needed repairs, abuse, or previous accident damage.

#3: Certified Vehicles

There are no quality standards or inspection standards for "Certified" or "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicles. Be aware that the "Certified Vehicle" warranty can vary greatly from dealer to dealer. As with any warranty, used car buyers must know what systems are covered and not covered, as well as the length of time of the coverage. A professional pre-purchase inspection is still needed to determine existing problems and previous accident damages that are not covered under the limited warranty.

#2: Vehicle History Reports

Carfax & AutoCheck admit that most vehicle accidents will never show up on their reports. A vehicle history report cannot tell the buyer of any existing or potential mechanical or electrical repair problems, the quality of any previous repairs, or the quality of any accident repairs. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can discover needed repairs, abuse, and previous accident damages. A clean "history report" does not mean the car is in good condition.

#1: Not Getting a Pre-Purchase Inspection

The #1 reason used car buyers purchase vehicles with existing problems is that buyers fail to determine the TRUE condition of the vehicle. Pre-purchase inspections (PPIs) require the testing and evaluation of every mechanical, electrical, body, and frame system of the used vehicle. However, there are no pre-purchase inspection standards, and there are significant differences between today's automotive technicians performing PPIs.

A professional pre-purchase inspection by an ASE Master Technician and Frame Specialist is an important part of the used car buying process and can save you from a financial nightmare. You cannot negotiate your best price until you determine the TRUE condition of the vehicle.

Information courtesy of Auto P.I. Used Car Inspections, offering 600-Point Mechanical, Electrical, Body & Frame Inspections, ASE Master Certified Technicians, Body & Frame Specialists, Mobile Service. Serving the Austin, TX Metro area (512) 454-5999.