Legal Issues Involved with Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car can save you money, but there are a lot more things to consider with the purchase of an older car. Whether you’re buying from a dealership or from a private seller, some work may be required to ensure you’re getting a good car at a fair price. An attorney can help you along every step of this process, reviewing contracts, vehicle history reports and ensuring all the necessary paperwork is completed and valid.

Here are a just few of things you need to do when buying a used car.

Buying from a Dealership:

  • Get the vehicle’s car history report to see if it’s been in any accidents and what maintenance has been done on the car
  • Read the entire contract before signing anything. The U.S. Truth in Lending Act requires that the seller disclose the total sales price, the interest rate, the finance charge and the payment plan. You should understand what happens if you miss a payment, as some contracts say that the dealer can repossess for a missed payment.
  • Review the “buyer’s guide,” which the dealer is required to post. This should tell you whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty and whether there are any major mechanical or electrical systems issues with the car. It will also tell you to make sure to get everything in writing and get an independent inspection done on the car.

Buying From a Private Seller:

With Craiglist and other online sites becoming a more popular source for used car sales, it can often be a better deal to buy a car direct from a seller. But it can also be more risky. Here are some things you need to do before buying from a private seller:

  • Complete all the necessary paperwork, including a bill of sale, which is your proof of purchase.
  • Make sure the seller provides you with the title. In the case of a lost title, you may also need a signed affidavit from the seller to ensure the title will be transferred to you within 15 days.
  • Examine the car using an inspection checklist.

It’s especially important to do your due diligence when buying a car from a private seller, since you have less protection buying from an individual. In most states the only obligation a private seller has is to answer all your questions honestly and disclose anything you should know about the car.

If you are a victim of fraud when purchasing a used vehicle, a lawyer can assist you with your case for small claims court. To find out your options or how to use the court process, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer.

This article is intended to provide you with general information. This article is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult with your own attorney.

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