This is the worst, absolutely THE worst advice I could give you. You hear this all the time, and it seems like GOOD advice. So, why do I say it is the WORST advice? Because it pains me to look into my crystal ball and know that you will NOT take it. It’s also the worst advice because if I give you this advice after you buy a piece of junk, then I sound like an “I told you so” nag. Of course, I'm going to give it to you anyway, but you're putting me in a real bind by not taking it. How do I know you won't take my (and every other lemon law attorney's) advice? Because you’ll be in my office (or theirs) asking for help to get you out of the sale. Maybe we can help, and maybe we can’t.
That's it - that's my very best and worst advice. It bears repeating:
Get your used car inspected before you buy it!
Now, rather than leaving my blog on such a negative Nelly note, I thought it might be helpful to talk about the psychology of why people feel so uncomfortable asking the seller if they can take the car to their own mechanic for inspection. (This is arm-chair psychology since I’m not an actual psychologist but attorney's are also known as “counselor” so I'll take my leave.)
First, people do not like conflict and setting a boundary with the seller is uncomfortable. You’ll likely get a lot of push back: “I already inspected the car and it runs fine.” “Don’t you trust me?” “Just sign the papers first and you can take it to a mechanic. If there is a problem, I’ll take it back.” “You can’t take the car because it isn’t insured.” “I’ve shown you the Carfax already and it says there aren’t any problems.” And on and on.
What a normal car buyer might think is, “Lordy, just get me out of here.” “I’ll just sign so he shuts up.” “Well, he sounds honest.” “He said he would take it back.” “I’ve already taken his time, so I have to buy it now.” All of this push-back is really just to bully you, distract you, and make you uncomfortable. Sellers WANT you uncomfortable.
There is one ADULT requirement that you should know about. If you buy from a private seller, YOU are required to report the sale to DMV within 10 days of the purchase date. The seller signs over the title (pink slip) to you and you notify DMV of the sale. If you buy from a used car dealer, the dealer is supposed to report the sale to the DMV.
Being better informed, empowered, and a bit more self-reflective, we can close this counseling session and I will hang up my psychologists hat ...
You bought a brand new car with that new car smell and can't wait to drive around town and show it off a bit (or a lot!)
Somewhere along that drive a friend says, "Hey, did you notice THIS?"
"WHAT?!" you say.
And there IT is - a funny patch of paint, a dull spot, a dimple. And your brand new car bubble deflates. How can this be? This is supposed to be a brand new car!
A new car may be damaged during transport or on the dealer’s lot prior to sale. If the damage is minor, a dealer is not required to inform you. But a car dealer is required to disclose pre-existing damage prior to selling the car in the following circumstances.
(1) Damage to the frame or drive train.
(2) Damage to the suspension requiring repairs other than wheel balancing or alignment.
(3) Damage that occurs in connection with a theft of the vehicle.
(4) Damage requiring repairs, including parts and labor, that exceeds the greater of 3% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price or $500.
For example, $1,500 is 3% of a vehicle with an MSRP of $50,000. Thus, if the repair cost exceeds $1,500 the dealer is required to disclose the damage to you prior to signing the purchase contract.
Well, don't you think the dealer is going to fix it himself and under charge for that repair to keep it under the 3%? Hmmmm......
Sorry folks. The calculation is based on the dealer's reported cost to repair. If it is obviously a much greater repair, then you may need to have the car inspected to determine what is a realistic repair cost and take the dealer to task. If the dealer refuses to buy it back, you might want to contact an auto sales fraud attorney. (Hmmm.... now where would you find one of those?)