After a surge in consumer complaints, the Better Business Bureau serving Northeast California is warning consumers to research cars before purchasing from a used car dealership.
The BBB logged 303 complaints against used car dealerships since the beginning of 2011. That number is a 12 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2010. Used car dealers rank fourth in the most complained about industries nationally.
“Used car dealers are nothing new in the BBB complaint realm,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving Northeast California. “But with the economy the way it is and data received from state agencies, we expect the number of complaints to continue to increase.”
Almond said the Department of Motor Vehicles handled 4 million title transfers during the first six months of 2011, a figure that includes private-party transactions. The Board of Equalization noted a slight increase in sales taxes collected by used car dealerships in 2010.
“The majority of the complaints are centered on the quality of the purchased car,” said Almond. “Unfortunately, used car dealers typically sell their product as is and the lemon law does not apply to used vehicles.”
When purchasing a used car, the Better Business Bureau suggests:
• Research the dealership with the Better Business Bureau.
• Get everything agreed to in writing. Verbal agreements guarantee nothing.
• If the dealer is responsible for repairs, be sure to get them on a due bill.
• Have a mechanic independently contracted examine the vehicle prior to purchase.
• Test drive the car in varied conditions. Avoid buying a car you cannot test drive.
• Obtain a CarFax report and be wary of any refurbished vehicle.
• Realize there is no “cooling off” period for used cars unless the option is purchased along with the car.
For more tips on purchasing a used car, visit www.necal.bbb.org.