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For Immediate Release
October 29, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

BUYING A USED CAR? TIPS FOR GETTING A GOOD ONE

Consumers considering buying a used car can find helpful tips in Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.’s latest Consumer’s Edge newsletter.

Curran 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.

"No used car is going to be perfect," Curran said. "But you want to avoid buying one that has serious, lurking mechanical problems."

The 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 reliability–fewer 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 rolled-back odometers.

• Ask to see the car’s title. In a private party sale, the name on the title should be the seller’s name.

• Have the car evaluated by a mechanic.

• Check the car’s history through the Motor Vehicle Administration and through vehicle history services on the Internet such as www.carfax.com You can find out the car’s 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."

Curran 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.

Also, Curran said some consumers have been hurt by buying used cars through Internet auctions. "If the car’s several states away and you can’t test-drive it or have a mechanic look at it, you’re taking a big risk," he said.

Curran’s Consumer’s 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

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