The Lemon law - Do Some Homework Before Buying Used Car
First, know what it's worth. Just because the price looks good doesn't mean the vehicle may not need some repair work. The Kelley Blue Book and N.A.D.A. Appraisal Guides have been the standard for determining car values for years, and now you can check prices online at www.kbb.com or nadaguides.com. Secondly, know the vehicle's history. If you have the vehicle identification number, you can use a service such as Carfax to purchase a history report on that vehicle. However, the report will only show what has been reported to insurance companies or government agencies. If the vehicle was in a flood, for example, and this was not reported, that information won't show up. Go to www.carfax.com or AAA.com.
Next, check the mileage and gauge it against what you see. If the odometer shows 5,000 miles, for example, but the pedal pads are worn out, that's a clue. Also, look for doorjamb stickers or papers in the glove compartment that may contradict the mileage.
Check tire wheels or rims for marks from wheel weights. The more marks, the more often the tires have been balanced, indicating age. Has the vehicle just been completely repainted? If the mileage is low, this may mean it has been in a wreck. On the other hand, if the vehicle is older, a new paint job may have been called for.
Turn the key on with the engine off and compare the warning lights you see with what the owner's manual says you should be seeing.
If any warning light doesn't work, a different warning light should go on — the one in your head. Someone may have tampered with the vehicle to hide a problem.
Finally, have the car thoroughly examined by an auto technician you trust. If the car's owner or salesperson won't let you have the vehicle checked, pass on it — they're hiding something.
Most dealers provide at least some level of warranty on their used cars. Read the fine print carefully. And consider an aftermarket warranty to further protect yourself. If you're buying from an individual, you're totally on your own from the moment you take possession.
Article by Chuck Mai