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Auto P. I. has been providing professional pre-purchase inspections for over 11 years. We see buyers fall victim to the same used car buying mistakes. We have put together the “Top 10” myths, mistakes and pitfalls many buyers will encounter when purchasing a used vehicle. Any one of the following 10 items can cause a financial nightmare. ALL of these items can be avoided if you understand them before you purchase.Be sure you know each of these before purchasing a used vehicle:

  • 1) Pre-Purchase Inspections

    Pre-purchase inspections (PPI) requires testing and evaluating of every mechanical, electrical, body and frame system of the used vehicle. However, there is no pre-purchase inspections standards and there are significant differences between Automotive Technicians performing PPI. Today’s vehicles are so complex that most Automotive Technicians become ASE Certified in just a couple of 8 general automotive testing areas. However, only an ASE Master Certified Technician is qualified to properly test and evaluate all 8 mechanical and electrical automotive areas. In addition, used car buyers will need an independent Body & Frame Specialist to uncover any previous accident and/or frame damage. The #1 reason bad cars are purchased is the buyers’ inability to determine the current condition of the entire vehicle before purchase.

  • 2) Vehicle History Reports

    A vehicle history report cannot inform the used car buyer of any existing or potential mechanical or electrical problems, or the quality of any previous repairs, including any accident repairs. Vehicle history reports do not report all accidents. Carfax & AutoCheck have admitted that there are thousands of accidents each day that never get reported to their database. Only a body & frame inspection performed by a Body & Frame Specialists can determine if the vehicle was in an accident, the extent of the damage, and the quality of any repairs. Click here for more limitations to history reports and how to determine the true condition before purchase.

  • 3) Certified Vehicles

    There is no quality standard or inspection standard for “Certified” or “Certified Pre-Owned” vehicles. Any certifications, inspection standards, and warranties vary greatly from dealer to dealer. As with any warranty, used car buyers must know what systems are covered and NOT COVERED before purchase. A professional pre-purchase inspection is still required to determine any existing problems that are not covered under the limited warranty and any problems missed by the dealer’s cursory inspection. Click here for more information about certified vehicles.

  • 4) Used Car Values

    There are many web sites and publications that calculate used car values. Normally these pricing guides and websites give used car prices with additions and deductions for items including optional equipment, excessive miles. However, these website and publications cannot give accurate deductions for the true mechanical condition of the vehicle. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can discover needed repairs, abuse, and previous accident damages. The true value of a used vehicle is the book value minus any needed repairs misuse, and previous accident damages. Click here for determining the value of a used vehicle.

  • 5) Frame Damaged and Flooded Vehicles

    It is estimated that 1 in 14 vehicles on the road today are rebuilt from salvage and that 40% of all frame repairs are substandard. Used car buyers will need a professional pre-purchase inspection by a Body & Frame Specialist to determine the extent of any accident damages, and the quality of any repairs. Many frame damage and flooded vehicles have clean titles and were never reported to the DMV, Carfax or AutoCheck.

  • 6) Odometer Fraud

    It is estimated that 1 in 4 used vehicles have odometer discrepancies. A professional inspection should determine if the wear and tear on the vehicle is consistent with the odometer reading. Vehicles with altered miles or abnormal wear and tear will be worth much less than the book value.

  • 7) 'AS-IS' Document

    When purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer, all buyers are required to sign the “AS-IS” document. The “AS IS” document has two check boxes, “Warranty” and “AS-IS No Warranty”. If the “AS IS” box is checked, used car buyers are responsible for all problems after the purchase. If the “Warranty” box is checked, the dealer offers some sort of warranty for a specific time. Used car buyers must understand what components and/or systems are covered, AND NOT COVERED, and for what length of time.

  • 8) Automatic Warranty

    Many used car buyers have a belief there is some sort of automatic warranty when purchasing from a used car dealer. However, dealers (and individuals) are not required to give any type of used car warranty. Any warranty must be in writing to be enforceable and most warranties are limited to certain parts or systems of the vehicle. Used car buyers must understand what components and/or systems are covered, AND NOT COVERED, and for what length of time. Most are very limited warranties covering just the drive train and not the majority of the mechanical and electrical systems. Warranties do not cover any problems caused by previous accident damage.
    Note: A used vehicle might have some remaining factory warranty. This is different from a warranty given by a used car dealer. Vehicles with remaining factory warranty should be inspected for previous accident damage and abuse by the former owner(s), which may void the remaining factory warranty

  • 9) Take Back Period

    Many used car buyers still believe there is an automatic 3-day take back period, or they can take it back if they have not made the first payment. There is no such law or protection.

  • 10) Used Car Lemon Law

    Many used car buyers assume that since there is a new car Lemon Law, there must be a used car Lemon Law. Most states, including Texas, do not have any type of a used car Lemon Law. It is the buyers’ responsibly to determine the true condition of the vehicle before purchase.