While there isn’t as much need to feel you have to go to battle when shopping for a used car as there used to be, you still need to be aware of some of the factors that can be part of the deal you sign that you need to make sure you look for during the sales process. While you might not be able to avoid some of these items, you do need to know your own rights and take your time in picking out the right vehicle for you to drive.
Watch for these items to show up in your paperwork:
Arbitration Clauses – Read the fine print of the contract presented to you. If you feel like the dealer defrauded you in the process of entering the agreement, you may want to sue the dealership but if an arbitration clause is present you might be stuck with an organization during arbitration that has been picked out by the dealership. This means you’ll be faced with an arbitrator that’s already on the side of the dealership and will not likely listen to your side or treat you fairly in their decision.
Statute of Limitations – As you read through your paperwork you need to be clear about the statute of limitations for the time you can exercise your right to take the dealership to court. In most states, this time is four years but dealerships are adding this clause to contracts which shortens the time to one year. This gives you an extremely limited window of time to hire an attorney and begin to file your complaint against the dealership if you feel they have ripped you off in any way during the process of buying the vehicle you want to drive.
Verbal Ignoring – Just because your salesperson said it, doesn’t make it so. Nearly everything a dealership salesperson says can be ignored unless you get it in writing. If you want something that’s said to be enforceable later you need to make sure it’s added to the contract and included as part of what you agree to, otherwise it doesn’t matter what was said. The job of the salesperson is to show you a vehicle in the most positive light possible to make sure you want to have this vehicle to drive on the roads in the future which means they might try and tell you anything to close the sale.
As-Is Limitations – If the car you’re considering is being sold “As-Is” you need to have a complete inspection completed by a mechanic you trust that doesn’t work for this dealership. Most states allow As-Is sales and when they do there is a long list of items that could be wrong with the vehicle that you can’t hold the dealership responsible for. These items can be engine block cracks, transmission housing cracks, frame cracks and more to give you a list that will scare you to death if you actually read it. If you’re going to buy an As-Is car you need to have a complete inspection done.
Unknown Add-Ons – Read the list of charges completely and question items that don’t make any sense to you. These could include items such as credit life and disability insurance, rust proofing, paint sealant, and fabric protection. You don’t need to pay for these items because you wouldn’t normally pay for them, but they won’t be removed as charges for the vehicle you’re buying unless you ask for them to be removed. Take a look at what the dealership is charging you for and make sure you know what every charge is and why its included.