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Why Buying a Car ‘As Is’ Isn’t Always Smart

Purchasing a vehicle used can be a sound financial decision; you can find plenty of well-maintained and reliable pre-owned cars that will cost less to buy and insure than a brand new car fresh off the factory floor. However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for as well. Most of us have friends, relatives, or coworkers with horror stories to share about buying used cars. Shady salespeople, financial traps, and lemons are some of the hazards to watch out for when trying to find a reliable used car.

Used car dealers can choose to offer a variety of warranty conditions, but many states also allow dealers to sell used cars “as-is.” This means that the dealer is not responsible for any repairs on the vehicle, and that the buyer is accepting any mechanical problems that the car might have as their own responsibility to fix. Sometimes it’s not necessarily a bad idea to buy a car “as-is,” if the repairs it requires aren’t too extensive. Often “as-is” vehicles will be sold at a lower price than cars with warranties attached, to offset the price of the needed repairs. If you don’t mind taking on a “fixer-upper,” or know someone who works on cars, buying a car that needs some work done can still be the better choice for your budget, especially if the repairs can be spaced out over time.

It’s important to know what you’re getting into with an “as-is” sale, though. When a dealer sells a car “as-is,” he is legally free of any responsibility to offer any repairs if something goes wrong, even if a verbal promise or agreement regarding repairs is extended at the time of purchase. If any such offer of repairs is extended, always get it in writing. The court system cannot verify a verbal contract, so if you find yourself needing to pursue a case against the dealer, his promises only count if they’re on paper.

Before buying a car “as-is,” have it inspected by an independent certified mechanic, and get an assessment of any problems with the vehicle that will require repairs, and an estimate of how much those repairs will cost. You’ll have to pay for this inspection, but it’s more than worth the mechanic’s fee to know what you’re getting into. You may also be able to use this figure to negotiate the purchase price of the vehicle with the dealer. Get a CARFAX report on the vehicle’s accident history, and test-drive the car at highway speeds before buying.

There are plenty of reliable used cars out there, but you should stay informed and prepared, to avoid expensive regrets down the road. Remember: forewarned is fore-armed.


Mercedes Potter is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow her @CedesPotter to get more information on used cars in Weslaco, TX.

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Integrated Family Community Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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