6 Important Vehicle Purchase Tips

  1. Vehicle Repair History:

    Always, Always, Always ask for repair history documents of the vehicle you are considering to purchase. Ask even when the vehicle is new, it can be damaged during transport.  Though advertised as a Certified Pre-Owned, it may have been in an accident, and if you do not ask specifically you will not likely receive the repair and accident history. A manufacturer’s dealership should be able to look up the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and provide you with a record of the warranty or other repair work under that vehicle’s VIN at various dealerships. Be aware this type of record won’t include repairs by shops that aren’t affiliated with the manufacturer. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a helpful website that provides consumers with information about a vehicle’s condition and history. Prior to purchasing a vehicle, NMVTIS allows consumers to find information on the vehicle’s title, most recent odometer reading, brand history, and, in some cases, historical theft data. Always ask the seller, but prior to purchasing do your own research.

  2. Ask for a Copy of the Buyer’s Guide or Warranty Agreement:

    Federal law requires every used vehicle sale to include a Buyer’s Guide. Ask for the Buyer’s Guide when you first inquire about a vehicle. The Buyer’s Guide should be clearly posted on the vehicle, possibly on one of the rear windows. The Buyer’s Guide should provide details of the warranty. The Buyer’s Guide should let you know what’s covered under the warranty and how much the dealer will contribute for repair costs. Make sure you get verbal representations of the warranty in writing from the seller. Federal law also requires that all warranties be made available prior to purchase, ask for the written warranty and read it, don’t rely on verbal representations as to warranty coverage. If you don’t read the warranty coverage you won’t be able to shop and compare a similar vehicle that may have better warranty coverage, or decide whether or not to purchase a service contract.

  3. Ask for a Written Copy of the Return Policy:

    Ask, “What is your Return Policy?” Many consumers believe there is a cooling-off period, during which time you can return a vehicle if you change your mind. Find out what the return policy is, get it in writing, and READ IT before purchasing the vehicle to ensure it states exactly what you were told. Some states have consumer protection laws allowing a consumer to return a vehicle that has problems within a certain period after being purchased. If you end up in a dispute with the seller – it’s better to have the written return policy in hand.

  4. Ask to See the Vehicle’s Title Before You Purchase: 

    A vehicle dealer may not know, misrepresent, or conceal a vehicle’s history or condition. In many states, a vehicle’s title must reveal if the vehicle was a lemon buyback, a salvage, or a rebuilt vehicle. Keep in mind, though, that seeing a vehicle’s title isn’t a substitute for researching the Vehicle Identification Numbers on your own through vehicle history search at NMVTIS. Some dealers engage in title washing, whereby a lemon buyback or salvage vehicle from one state is transported to and sold in another state with less stringent titling requirements, or the vehicle came from a state with ambiguous titling requirements. Researching the VIN history is how to understand where the vehicle has been.

  5. Get All Before Sale Promises in Writing:

    Dealers and their sales personnel make promises, whether it relates to financing, warranties, or vehicle repairs they will provide. Unless you get it in writing, as part of the contract, you’ll have a hard time proving what was promised prior to the vehicle’s purchase.

  6. Get Copies of All Documents Signed Related to Vehicle Purchase:

    Vehicle purchasers will often sign documents at a dealership prior to the sale and when seeking to finance a vehicle.  When a dispute or question arises after the sale, the buyer realizes they may not have received a copy of all documents signed. It is imperative to ask and receive every single document signed, especially those related to the credit and financing of a vehicle.