CBS47 On Your Side: Tips on buying a used vehicle


FRESNO, California (KGPE) — Over the past few weeks, CBS47 On Your Side has received a number of complaints from viewers who purchased a used vehicle and claim they got a lemon.

So here are some tips to protect yourself, your family and your hard-earned money.

One of the big differences between buying a new car and buying a used car is there are many more options for where to buy your used car.

If you buy a used car from a private owner, ask for the car’s maintenance and repair records. If the seller is the first owner, you should also ask for records of the original purchase. Check the title to make sure the person selling the car is the legal owner.

You also need to be extra careful when dealing with a personal seller as it may be easier for an individual to be running a con. Fraudulent dealers may disguise themselves as individual sellers and offer cars that are stolen or damaged or have had their odometers rolled back to hide mileage.

Do Your Homework

There are many online resources to check average retail prices of different makes and models of used cars depending on the year they came out and the number of miles they were driven. Keep these prices in mind as you shop and negotiate. Online resources and publications can also give you information on the reliability records of various models.

Inspections and Test Drives

When a car is sold “as-is,” there is no warranty and once you sign papers and drive away the seller has no more responsibility. This makes it especially important to know as much as you can about the condition of the car before you buy it.

Check the exterior of the vehicle for past accidents, like cracks, heat-discolored areas, and loose bumpers.

Welded seams are also a good indication that something was repaired.

Check the doors, windows and the vehicle’s trunk to make sure everything fits evenly.

If you suspect a car’s structural condition, have it checked by a local tire alignment dealer. A car with a bent frame can be dangerous.

During the test drive, the car should start easily and travel without excessive noise.

But listen for engine noises as you drive.

Also, make sure you drive on a variety of terrains. This should include highways, back roads, and traffic.

Also check the odometer, which tracks the miles the car has been driven. Make sure it matches the vehicle history report.

Do the math. The average vehicle accumulates about 12,000 miles per year. If the mileage seems excessively high or low in comparison, find out why.

If you need to file a complaint, call the California Department of Motor Vehicle Investigation Division at (559) 488-4024. You can fill out a form here.

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