October 29, 2002
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
A USED CAR? TIPS FOR GETTING A GOOD ONE
considering buying a used car can find helpful tips in Attorney
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.s latest Consumers Edge
says that a used car can be a good deal, but consumers need to do
their homework to avoid buying a problem vehicle. His Consumer Protection
Division often receives complaints about cars that stop working
on the drive home, cars that need extensive repair work, and cars
that turn out to have hidden accident or flood damage.
used car is going to be perfect," Curran said. "But you
want to avoid buying one that has serious, lurking mechanical problems."
most important things a consumer can do to get a good used car,
he says, are to:
Choose a model that has a good record for reliabilityfewer
repairs, low maintenance costs and a good safety record. Look for
information in consumer magazines and on the Internet.
Avoid buying from "curbstoners"people who sell cars
from the roadside or shopping center lots and pretend they are their
own vehicles. Curbstoners often sell rebuilt wrecks and cars with
Ask to see the cars title. In a private party sale, the name
on the title should be the sellers name.
Have the car evaluated by a mechanic.
Check the cars history through the Motor Vehicle Administration
and through vehicle history services on the Internet such as www.carfax.com
You can find out the cars odometer readings when it previously
changed hands, whether it has ever been totaled in an accident,
flood-damaged, sold at auction, or bought back by a manufacturer
as a "lemon."
says if a consumer should be wary if vehicle history report shows
a car has been sold at auction across state lines. Many unscrupulous
auto brokers sell rebuilt wrecks or cars with rolled-back odometers
through auctions. "Definitely have a mechanic check out that
car," he said.
Curran said some consumers have been hurt by buying used cars through
Internet auctions. "If the cars several states away and
you cant test-drive it or have a mechanic look at it, youre
taking a big risk," he said.
Consumers Edge newsletter has more tips for used car buyers,
including what they should know about buying "as is,"
warranties, and service contracts. Consumers can request a copy
by calling (410) 576-6500 or read it online at www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/edge108.htm