Here is a typical email that I receive almost daily:
I purchased a used car “as is” last month from a Buy Here Pay Here dealership. The dealer assured me that the car only needed a tune up. Yesterday, the car started smoking, so I took it to a mechanic. He said it needs a whole new engine. I called the dealership and told them, but the owner said it’s not his problem. I can’t afford to replace the engine, which will cost over $1,500.00. What can I do?
I don’t like it, but I usually have to tell people that the costs to repair a car they purchased “as is,” even expensive repairs like replacing the engine or transmission, are their responsibility. People are always surprised to hear that they will be responsible for repairs even if the problem started the day after they purchased the car. The general rule is that when you purchase a used car “as is” you are buying it with all of the problems. Georgia law goes something like this: if your used car breaks down on the way home from the dealership, then, congratulations—you bought a broken car. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule. Did you respond to an advertisement for the car that contained some statements about the condition of the car? Did the dealership salespeople answer your questions about the car’s condition or operation? Did the dealership fail to do something they are required to do by law, like register the car within 45 days? Or, did the dealership charge you for the emissions? Any of those practices by the dealership may help you get your money back or get the car repaired.
You shouldn’t wait until a problem with the car comes up before you find out whether you are entitled to your money back or help with repair costs. Truthfully, most of us need our cars to get back and forth to work and to run the kids around to school and activities. You don’t have time to play detective while your broken car sits in a repair shop. Add to that the fact that most lawyers who handle automobile fraud cases charge a hefty fee to take a case. Initial payments to an automobile law firm in Georgia can run from $500 to $1,800—if you can even find a law firm to take your case!
If you don’t want to end up in this terrible situation, avoid these 3 mistakes that almost everyone makes when buying a used car:
Research the dealership before you go there to buy a car.
The relationship between the buyer and a car dealership is based in trust: the dealership trusts you to supply accurate information about your place of employment and income, and you trust the dealership to tell you the truth about the car and to handle the tag process quickly and efficiently. Despite this, consumers complain constantly about dealerships that make it a practice to sell broken cars to unsuspecting buyers. They also complain that certain dealerships take money and then register cars late or not at all. You can’t drive a car that’s not registered. Don’t end up paying a monthly payment for a car that you can’t drive because it is broken or isn’t registered!
Take the time to look up the dealership’s online reviews. Call the dealership and ask questions about the cars and the car-buying process. If you don’t get good customer service when you are asking questions, imagine what it will be like when you have a problem that you need them to fix. Ask a friend who is good with negotiations to help you look for and buy a car.
Blindly trusting a car dealership can lead to thousands of dollars wasted and numerous hours wasted begging for rides from friends.
Have a mechanic you trust look at the car BEFORE you buy it.
It does you no good to discover major issues with your used car one day after you purchase it. You need to do some “due diligence” before you sign on the dotted line. You may need to pay a small deposit before the dealership will let you take the car to a mechanic, and the mechanic will probably charge you an inspection fee. These fees are small compared to the cost of paying $1,500 to replace an engine or the cost of making car payments for a vehicle that’s sitting in your driveway.
If the mechanic discovers issues with the car, you can try to negotiate a lower purchase price with the dealership that will compensate you for the cost of repairs, or you can look at buying a different car that doesn’t require costly, up-front repairs. If you decide to purchase the car, at least then you won’t be surprised when it has issues.
Have some money saved to pay for repairs or to pay extended warranty deductible.
Used cars break down. Even if you buy a used car from a reputable dealership only after having a mechanic look at it, your car may still have an issue. It is best to have money set aside to handle these inevitable issues. If you purchased a service contract or extended warranty, read it so that you know what problems are covered and which ones are excluded from coverage. Also be sure that you have enough money set aside to cover the extended warranty deductible.
There is nothing wrong with buying a used car. Millions of used cars drive down our roads daily and cause no issues to their owners. If you want to be a happy used car owner, follow the steps listed above.
Do you think that the car dealership where you purchased your used car engaged in some practices that were against the law? Call 770-580-9013 to schedule a consultation. We are here to help!