Money Wise--Avoiding the Used Car Blues - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/08/03

Money Wise--Avoiding the Used Car Blues

You've probably heard the horror stories. Someone bought a used car and it turned out to be a lemon. There are some ways you can avoid all the hassles and headaches. All you have to do to avoid buying a car that's a clunker is just take the time to do some research. There are no laws requiring a dealer to tell you some things, so, you'll never know unless you ask.

Most customers want a used car that's in pretty good condition, but too often, they don't know exactly what or how to research. We tracked down Coastal Chevrolet's general manager Troy Alford so he could explain how buyers can almost guarantee a good deal.

"In buying a used car, there's numerous things a customer should look for," Alford said.

First look for a certified vehicle.

"Why do we certify them? Cause it makes it easier to sell them," Alford told us.

Certified vehicles are backed by the manufacturer and have a warranty, something many used cars don't have. But even that's not foolproof, so you'll want to look into the background of the vehicle, typically by using the website carfax.com. By entering the car's VIN, you can learn the vehicle's history. There is a small charge if you do it on your own, but if you're looking to buy, most dealerships will pick up the cost. But you have to ask.

Here's another tip from Alford: "A lot of out customers that come in, they've had previous mechanics that they rely on, that they depend on. We have no problem doing what we call a loan agreement, giving to the customer an opportunity to take our car and go to their mechanic, whether it be on the outskirts of town or another town or another city, and let their personal mechanic look and it and come back with the results."

Alford says if the dealership won't let your mechanic look at the car, that's a red flag. And also, ask around. Dealerships all over the area have developed some sort of reputation, so hearing from someone who's already dealt directly with the company could prove very beneficial.

Something else to keep in mind is a warranty. Many used cars don't have them at all, others have them for just three months. But Troy Alford told us although an extended warranty costs extra, if it's spread out with the car payments, that's the best $20 to $25 a month anyone could spend.

If you have money questions you'd like answered in Money Wise, email moneywise@wtoc.com.

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark, bdenmark@wtoc.com

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