What advice do you have for people seeking to purchase a used vehicle?
I’ll start with my mantra: Make informed decisions. Do your research on both the vehicle and whoever you are considering completing a business transaction with. According to one consumer advocacy group, 67% of pre-owned vehicles have a problem. As I have covered in prior blogs, it is as important to research the dealer as it is the vehicle, especially when it comes to pre-owned vehicles. If there are any issues, you want to be certain you have done business with a reputable dealer.
There are many options for buying a pre-owned vehicle so think about what these options present in terms of pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
1. Massachusetts vs. New Hampshire: In Massachusetts, consumers have protection via the Massachusetts Lemon Law when purchasing pre-owned vehicles for over $700 that are sold by a Massachusetts dealer or private party. This also applies to pre-owned vehicles with fewer than 125,000 miles purchased from dealers. Under the Mass. Lemon Law, a consumer can cancel a contract if the vehicle fails to pass inspection within seven days of the purchase and if the estimated cost of repairs of emissions or safety-related defects exceeds 10% of the purchase price. This applies to all vehicles and motorcycles. (Note: New Hampshire does not have a Lemon Law so it is buyer beware.)
2. Private party or dealer reputation. It may be more difficult to evaluate the reputation of a private party unless they have been referred to you by someone you know and trust or you know them personally. There are many private parties selling used vehicles and again, buyer beware. For transactions via a dealer, I recommend you leverage the DealerRater.com website as an excellent source of information about dealers to help you evaluate reputation.
3. Certified pre-owned. There is stringent criteria required for a vehicle to be deemed “certified.” This certification is a good option for consumers to give you peace of mind in evaluating quality of the vehicle to consider as you do your homework.
4. Available vehicle history. This is an important part of the homework. Leverage a variety of available tools to give you the vehicle history you need and deserve to know before buying a pre-owned vehicle. Carfax is a familiar reference that can be leveraged, but note that Carfax is not without its flaws. Leverage the Kelly Blue Book or other such references to assist you in evaluating cost; again, realize there are many factors that can influence the price. At Jaffarian, only select pre-owned vehicles are offered at our dealership. In other words, not every trade-in ends up being reconditioned and offered for sale. At reputable dealerships like Jaffarian Volvo Toyota, ask to see the vehicle’s evidence manual, which I often refer to as the “pedigree papers” so you can review the vehicle’s history to make an informed decision.
For any vehicle purchase, define a budget and define a list of MUST HAVES and NICE TO HAVES to help you evaluate available options. Contact your insurance agent in advance to incorporate insurance costs into your budget. If you are not confident in assessing the vehicle, bring the vehicle in for a professional assessment of the vehicle prior to agreeing to purchase. Below is a short list of items to evaluate or have evaluated as you do your homework:
• What is the mileage? Is there a factory warranty that still applies? Many have a 100,000 mile power train warranty.
• How is it for gas mileage?
• When you turn it on, do all the dashboard lights come on, including the check engine and air bags lights?
• Does the transmission engage within two seconds of shifting?
• Is the engine oil clean or clear? If it is thick and creamy, it is indicative of a problem.
• Are the VIN (vehicle identification number) stickers still on it? Do they have matching numbers? If they are missing, different numbers, or painted over, it is indicative it was probably in an accident or has replacement parts.
• Check the tires for wear. If the tires are worn, they present a safety hazard
If you are considering purchasing a pre-owned vehicle from a private owner, feel free to schedule an appointment for our team in our Jaffarian Service Department for an objective opinion. Watch this brief You Tube Video for additional related information: “How do I make a wise decision before purchasing a used vehicle?”