How to Avoid Surprises When Buying a Car STAFF PICK

Lu Ann Trevino

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Identity Theft Lawyer

Contributor Level 18

Posted almost 5 years ago. 6 helpful votes

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1

Bait & Switch

You've seen an advertisement for a car at a price you like, but when you get to the dealership, it's been sold. The salesman tells you not to worry, there is another better car that you'll just love. Unfortunately, it's more expensive without features you want. Solution: Bring the print advertisement with you and demand that the offer be honored. If you really don't want the alternative vehicle, walk away.

2

Really Low Mileage

It's an older vehicle, but it looks great and the mileage is really low. Why, you ask. You might hear a story about a little old lady who only drove it to church, but the truth is more likely to be an odometer roll back by the dealer. Solution: Demand to see the title to the vehicle which should have an odometer statement with it or ask for a CarFax or similar report.

3

Really High Mileage

It's a newer vehicle, but it really has been driven a lot in a short time. This time the story is about the car belonging to a traveling salesman. The truth is more likely to be a serious accident, a certified "lemon," or water damage. You would never buy a damaged car, but you might by one with high mileage. Solution: Demand to see the title to the vehicle which should have an odometer statement with it or ask for a CarFax or similar report.

4

Really Low Price

You found the car you want, but the price is lower than the book values you have seen in your research. In this scam, the buyer is his or her own worst enemy. It's hard to avoid the thrill of the bargain, thinking you've gotten the best of an unsuspecting seller. In reality, the vehicle probably has any number of mechanical defects or title defects leaving you with a vehicle you can't afford to fix and can't sell. Solution: Take the vehicle to a mechanic you trust, demand to see the title to the vehicle which should have an odometer statement with it and ask for a CarFax or similar report.

5

"Unhorsing"

You found a car, the price is right, and you want to use your old car as a trade-in, but you need financing. No problem. Sign the papers, leave your car, and take the new one. Your loan application will be processed and the loan papers will be sent to you. After a few days or even a few weeks, you get a call from the dealership telling you that your loan was not approved, you need to bring the new car back or you need to agree to a new, higher purchase price, and, by the way, your trade-in has been sold. Solution: Check your credit report before you go shopping. Don't take the new car home or leave yours until you have actual confirmation of the loan approval. Be sure you actually read the contracts you are asked to sign BEFORE you sign them.

Additional Resources

You can use these resources to do your research before shopping: www.kbb.com, www.bbb.com, www.edmunds.com, www.transunion.com, and www.carfax.com,

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