Make sure your bargain does not turn into a bad buy: Take a good look when buying a used car

(djd). You can save a lot of money when buying a used instead of a new car. Sometimes, however, an attractive bargain can turn into a bad buy when defects were concealed or important aspects neglected in the contract.  

Dealer or private owner?

When buying a used car from a dealer you should pay close attention to his behavior. “If he pushes you to make a quick decision, or if he can tell you little about the vehicle for sale, you should be careful,” says Christian Teppe, an attorney-at-law at Teppe Law Assoc. in Hamburg. Certain proofs of quality can provide safety and reliability. “Buying from a dealer has several advantages, to include getting up to two years of warranty, often additional warranty adjustments or affordable finance offers.”

Buying a used car from a private owner, might get a cheaper price. In turn, you pass up warranty and defects liability. Most private sellers add the clause “bought as seen” to the contract,” precluding warranty for obvious defects. “These include scratches and dents but do not include concealed defects and, therefore, do not exclude defects liability or contestation of the contract due to malicious deceit.”

There is no legal difference between buying a used car online or from a dealer or private person. “You have the same legal rights,” says Teppe. It is best to print out the online offer so you have proof of the car’s promised condition once the online offer has been removed. There are insurance companies that offer protection against legal disputes resulting from online car sales.

From test driving to signing the sales contract

When buying a used car, you should take a good look at it and take it for a test drive. It is best to have a witness or witnesses with you. If you decide to buy, read the sales contract carefully and close the deal in writing. Despite legal obligations, some dealers attempt to exclude warranty or liability in the contract. “Such clauses have no legal validity,” says Teppe. Additionally, make sure the contract is complete and includes sold accessories, supplementary equipment and known deficiencies for the purpose of subsequent proof. Also, make sure to get all necessary documents, most importantly part I and part II of the motor vehicle registration certificate.

Photo Credit: djd/roland rechtsschutz-Versicherungs-AG/Getty

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