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Let The Buyer Beware: On Lemons And Limited Warranties

Buying a used car is, at least at first glance, a good way to save money over buying a new car. By purchasing a model that’s a few years old, you can save sometimes upwards of half off the original cost, and while its best years may be behind it, a decent, reliable used vehicle should still have at least a full decade of life left in it.

However, not all used cars are created equal. For as much effort and research as you need to put into buying the right new car, everything becomes twice as important once the car has a history.

Get A Background Check

This means researching both the history of the model of car you’re looking at and researching the history of the specific car. Does the model have a reputation for reliability, or does it seem to fall into the “planned obsolescence” category where important systems start to fail as the warranty runs out? Was the specific car in an accident? Was the last driver hard on the vehicle? Did it survive a natural disaster like a flood or a fire?

Another thing you should do is check the model’s recall history. Although a new car dealership will repair its vehicles when the manufacture issues a recall, used car dealerships and private sellers alike are under no obligation to perform recall repairs. On the upside, such repairs are free to car owners, so it shouldn’t impact your decision to buy, but it’s still something you should handle right away.

Get A Second Opinion

You are under no obligation to take a used car seller’s word on anything. You are allowed to take a used car to a third party mechanic who can give it a thorough checkup, and if the seller gives you any kind of excuse as to why this shouldn’t happen, no matter how reasonable it sounds, you should immediately be on your guard regarding any claims the seller makes about the vehicle.

Investigate Your Warranty Options

Licensed used car dealerships must provide a Buyer’s Guide sticker on all its cars which state whether any manufacturer’s warranties still apply along with whatever warranties the dealership adds. A dealership may also try to upsell you on an extended warranty, and depending on the model’s reliability and the extended warranty’s coverage, it may in fact be worth the added cost.

Of course, your warranty situation is somewhat different if you’re buying from a private seller. Some states have used car lemon laws, which give buyers a minimum warranty which every seller has to abide by or else exchange the car or refund the buyer’s money. However, in other states (including Florida), your only real protection is the merchant’s promise: a product has to do what it was designed to do, at least for a while, and it also has to do what the seller promises it can do. So if the seller promises that his Jeep can tow a trailer, then if the trailer hitch falls off the first time you use it, you’ve got a case for getting a refund.

However, if all you’ve received from the seller are oral promises, you’ll have a hard time proving anything in court, assuming that things get to that point. As such, you’re best off getting anything significant in writing so you can produce it as evidence later. As an added bonus, the federal lemon law applies in the case of an express written warranty.

If you find yourself debating with a car seller about the finer points of a warranty, you should consider getting professional advice from an experienced lawyer. Even if you don’t end up hiring one, a good lawyer can help clear away any misconceptions and explain to you what laws and which precedents apply to your situation.

If you live in or near Fort Meyers and Port Charlotte in southwest Florida, consider speaking with All Injuries Law Firm for some professional advice about civil cases. As the name implies, we cover everything from wrongful death to harassment to the car accidents which are unfortunately common in our small but heavily populated. Whatever you need us to do, we’ll do our best to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.