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Buying Used Cars

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The secret to buying great used cars is to do your research before you buy.


Where to Buy Used Cars

You can buy used cars from dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, used car companies, private individuals and on Internet Web sites. Union families can also use the Union Plus Auto Buying Service and save an extra $250 with the Union Plus Hertz Rent2Buy program - plus associated rebates for buying union-made vehicles!

If you're interested in doing more research yourself, following are some tips:

Buying Used Cars from Dealers and Buyers Guide Rule

If you're considering buying from a dealer, you can find out if there are any unresolved complaints about a dealer on record by calling your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car a dealer offers for sale (including trucks). The Used Car Buyers Guide must tell you:

  • Whether the car is being sold "as is" or with a warranty
  • What percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the car warranty
  • That spoken promises are difficult to enforce (get everything in writing!)
  • To keep the Used Car Buyers Guide for reference after the sale
  • A list of the used car's major mechanical and electrical systems, including some major problems you should look out for; and
  • To ask you to have the used car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

Be sure to get the original Used Car Buyers Guide, or a copy, from the dealer. And make sure it reflects any changes you may negotiate in warranty coverage. The Used Car Buyers Guide becomes part of your sales contract.

Buying Used Cars from Individuals

Private sellers do not need to offer a Buyer's Guide for used cars. Used cars sold by individuals are normally sold "as is", but you can request that the car be inspected by your mechanic.

Used cars may be covered by a manufacturer's warranty or a separately purchased service contract. But these may not be transferable. Review the warranty or service contract before you buy any used cars.

Evaluating Used Cars

Before you buy used cars:

  • Use an inspection checklist to examine the used car (get from magazines, books, the Internet)
  • Test drive the car under varied road conditions - hills, highways, stop-and-go traffic.
  • Ask for the used car's maintenance record. If the owner doesn't have it, contact the dealer or service shop where work was done for copies.
  • Have used cars inspected by a mechanic you hire.


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