Yesterday was the 2010 tax return deadline, and resulting refunds will starts arriving in the next few days, many consumers will take the opportunity to use this extra money to buy a used vehicle. However, BBB warns that used car dealers were one of the most complained about industries last year with over 400 complaints. While the majority of complaints were resolved, many disputes could have been prevented by consumers taking the time to ask detailed questions and research dealerships in advance.
To help prevent any issues when buying your next used vehicle, BBB suggests the following tips:
- View the dealer’s BBB Business Review. This will give you information about the length of time they have been in business, their history of complaints and complaint resolution, and any past advertising concerns we may have found.
- Shop for vehicles that still have a portion of the original manufacturer’s warranty. Most vehicles have at least a three-year or 36,000 mile basic warranty coverage, and often longer “power train” coverage on the engine and transmission. This means if you buy a car that is less than three years old, you may get at least a year or so of free maintenance. Just be sure to confirm the details of the warranty and whether it is fully transferable.
- Consider a certified, pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. These are vehicles that typically have been given multipoint inspections before being put on the lot. CPO programs are backed by many automakers and the vehicles may include an extended warranty on major parts such as the engine and transmission at no cost.
- Do a background check on the vehicle. For a small cost, you can use a service like CARFAX to find the vehicle service and history report. Write down the vehicle identification number (VIN) to check for accident reports, previous owners and why the vehicle has been taken to repair shops in the past. You can also check if certain items on the vehicle have ever been recalled.
- Test drive and inspect the vehicle. The dealer or individual seller should have nothing to hide. If they do not allow you to test drive the vehicle or allow a third-party mechanic to look it over, do not buy it.