Buying a used car can be a smart financial decision, especially if your budget is limited. However, failing to do your homework before you buy can put you in a disastrous - or even dangerous - situation.
Nationally, Better Business Bureau has received more than 42,000 complaints about used car dealers in the last three years. Those included more than 3,400 complaints in Eastern and Southwest Missouri and Southern Illinois, where they were the seventh most complained-about industry in 2018. Consumers reported cars that broke down soon after purchase, problems with warranties, and customer service conflicts.
BBB offers the following advice for consumers shopping for a used car. For starters, set a budget and stick to it. And, if you find a car you like, go to online sources to determine whether the price is in line with values of similar models. Check reports on the reliability of the model you’re interested in and whether it’s been subject to any recalls. Ask for a vehicle history report to see whether the car has been in a wreck previously, then consider asking a mechanic you trust to inspect it before buying.
Research the dealer and the owners carefully before signing a contract or paying any money, and ask if there are any warranties offered by the dealer. Finally, before closing the deal, make sure the seller transfers the registration and title to your name. A dealer’s history of complaints - and how they were handled - can be checked with BBB Business Profiles through reviews by previous customers, contact information, and a rating from A+ to F.