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Boston, MA — With President’s Day fast approaching and car dealerships advertising their holiday sales, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation offers tips and advice to consumers looking to purchase a new or used vehicle.
Many buyers of new and used cars from dealerships want the same thing: to pay a fair price for a vehicle that meets their needs. There is no way to definitively ensure a problem-free experience, but there are some factors you can consider to give yourself the best chance of being a satisfied customer.
It is important to note that it is illegal for a Massachusetts auto dealer to sell a vehicle AS IS, WITH ALL FAULTS, or with a 50/50 WARRANTY.
Once you have determined which vehicle is best for you, read vehicle reviews and see how much other people have paid for that vehicle in your area. Make sure to compare the same make and model vehicles so you have an apples-to-apples evaluation of the price. It may help you to bring printed materials that highlight this information to use as a negotiating tactic.
Used cars from a New/Used car dealership:
A used car often costs significantly less than its brand-new counterpart, but it is still a large purchase. Remember that used cars can vary greatly in condition, even across identical makes and models. If you have found a vehicle that you are seriously interested in buying, consider paying for an independent, thorough inspection of the vehicle. During the inspection, ask when you will likely need to replace parts such as the tires and brakes. Remember that scheduled maintenance can be as expensive as unexpected repairs, so it is important to determine if the used vehicle is nearing maintenance mileage intervals. You can also ask the dealer for service records to determine what work has already been done and to possibly determine if the vehicle has been in an accident.
Used cars from independent dealerships:
Independent dealerships are not associated with a particular manufacturer and may have any number of makes and models of vehicles available. You may wish to start your search at a dealership that you know has a good reputation. Note that independent dealers are likely to have procured their vehicles at auction. If the dealer claims the vehicle was bought from an individual, ask to see service records and if you can contact the previous owner. Independent dealerships may not have repair facilities onsite, which may make it more difficult to complete any warranty repairs. Consider paying for an independent, thorough inspection of the vehicle before agreeing to sign any purchase documents. If the dealer refuses to let you have the car thoroughly inspected before purchase, consider it a red flag.
It is extremely important to have all the necessary information before agreeing to a purchase. Do not feel pressured by the seller, and take the time to ask questions. Once you have selected and discussed the sale of your vehicle, be sure to read all the paperwork before signing anything. Make sure you understand the contract, its warranty, and any payments for which you are responsible. It may be better to walk away from a potential sale rather than end up with a vehicle you don’t really want and/or can’t afford.