Most used cars are sold "as-is" and their problems become your problems when you drive them off the lot.
TRUE or FALSE:
Every used car has to be problem-free for 30 days after you drive it off the lot.
FALSE. There's no requirement like that in North Carolina.
TRUE or FALSE: Every used car comes with a warranty.
FALSE. Used cars are sold as-is, unless the seller specifically states it comes with a warranty and tells you the terms.
TRUE or FALSE: If you take it for a test drive and it seem fine, buy it.
FALSE. Many of the problems with used cars can't be detected unless you raise the hood.
Unfortunately there's very little about our assumptions and used cars that are true. So with a used car that you buy "as-is," its problems are your problems as soon as you drive it off the lot.
So Two Wants to Know found the best way for you to protect yourself: have an independent mechanic check it out your used car before you buy it. Allen Roy of Roy's Automotive talks us through one of their inspections.
"First we put it up in the air. We come under here, shake the front and make sure there's no worn steering parts, suspension parts, etc. We go through looking for any oil leaks or transmission leaks. We walk-through looking at the body to make sure we don't see any rust."
Then Roy lowers the car and pops the hood. "We're looking for any conditions like frayed belts or worn hoses. We'll check brake fluid, filters, battery condition. Check the alternator. Make sure it's working right. The starter. We pretty much go through everything under the hood and make sure we don't see any problems."
A thorough inspection will cost you between $50 and $100. If you're looking for cars out of town, call around ahead of time and find a garage.
Now, what if the seller won't let you take and have it inspected? You're going to love Roy's answer. "Don't buy it. He's trying to hide something. Now, maybe he won't let you drive - maybe his insurance won't let him do that - but maybe he can accompany you with the car."
Roy says there are other cars out there – so just walk away.
Getting a CARFAX report can give you insight into the car's history too – like the number of owners and it's been in a wreck that does not total the car.
A car seller is required to tell you if the car is salvaged, a flood car or had the odometer rolled back. But that's it. Roy says it is possible they don't know what's wrong with the car because they go to an auction, buy it, clean up the inside, slap some paint on it and put it on their lot.