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Avoid Auto Defects When Buying a Used Vehicle

avoid auto defects when buying used carBuying a used car can be a frustrating and confusing process. It doesn't help that used car dealers have a reputation of taking advantage of uninformed car buyers. If you are looking to get a car, it may be necessary to do your homework and understand the process. You do not want to be stuck with a lemon. But, more importantly, you do not want to drive a defective car that compromises your safety and the safety of your loved ones.

Do Your Homework

A 2012 study by Carfax reported that more than 2.7 million used vehicles for sale online in 2011 with safety recalls were never repaired. The Carfax study discovered that California, Florida and Texas lead the nation with the most used vehicles for sale with open recall each having well over 100,000 in 2011.

Be it online or in a used car lot, dealers tend to protect their bottom line by selling recalled cars without bothering to make the necessary repairs. You can check if the vehicle you are about to buy has been the subject of a safety recall by visiting the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) website at or Carfax Vehicle History Reports. You can also check for open recalls using the vehicle identification number at

Review the Vehicle's History

All used cars have a history and records that can be tracked. If your vehicle has not been involved in any recalls, you should continue with your research and review its history. Request the VIN number from the dealer and conduct an online search of the vehicle's history. If the vehicle has been involved in a major accident, the information will be available online. You can typically purchase a VIN report for as little as $1. It is certainly worth your time and money to verify this information.

If Your Used Car is Defective

If you have been injured as a result of a defective auto, you can seek compensation from the manufacturer of the defective vehicle for damages including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Hospitalization
  • Rehabilitative treatment
  • Permanent injuries and disabilities
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Contact an Experienced Auto Defect Lawyer

Brian Chase is a highly respected auto defect lawyer and has some tips for buyers purchasing used cars. Nationally renowned for his ability to hold manufacturers of defective vehicles accountable, Brian often conducts independent testing of vehicles in an effort to uncover potential hazards.

Have the Vehicle Inspected

The used car dealer will probably tell you the car is in great shape. But you should not necessarily believe him. He is after all trying to get the car off the lot. You should get a second opinion from an auto mechanic you trust. Look for rust spots, dents, scratches and the wear-and-tear on the engine. Your mechanic should be able to tell you which parts will need replacing. This information can help you when negotiating the price with the dealer. If you can clearly show that the vehicle needs new parts, you may be able to negotiate for a reduced rate or even get the dealer to make some of the repairs.

The Test Drive

Never purchase a car without testing it out for yourself. Make sure the car fits your needs and that you feel comfortable driving it. Check the steering and brakes as you go for a test drive. Request an opportunity to take it onto the highway to make sure it can handle faster speeds as well.

Here are a few things to look out for while taking the car for a spin:

  • Trepidation: Try to sense if the vehicle has slight trepidation, or trembling, at 45/55/65 or 75 miles per hour. This could be a sign that the mechanical parts have been worn down. You may need new parts that could cost thousands of dollars to replace.
  • Clunking noises while turning: When making a 90-degree turn at a low speed, listen for a clunking noise. This could be a sign of damaged joints.
  • Faulty brakes: You should be able to tell if the brakes are loud or unresponsive.

The Responsibility of Auto Dealers

You must use caution when buying a used car. If you buy the vehicle "as is," that means you get the car in whatever condition it is in. You will be responsible for any and all repairs needed once you drive the car off the lot. In other words, if you buy the car as is, anything that is wrong with the vehicle that is later discovered is your responsibility.

A bill to prohibit car dealers from selling used cars that are under the federal safety recall until they have been repaired is in the works. Although federal law required car dealers to repair recalled vehicles before selling them, that requirement does not apply to used cars. Wisconsin is currently the only state that requires new car dealers to fix some used recalled vehicles. There is no question that a new California law, which requires dealers to repair recalled used cars, will enhance consumer safety.

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