Greensboro, NC -- Car complaints make the top 10 list for the NC Attorney General's Office every year.
Jessica Heironimus, an expert in auto issues with the Consumer Protection Department of the AG's office joined 2WTK by Skype to talk about the top car complaints and how to avoid them.
CARS SOLD "AS IS"
A common misconception is there is a cooling off period and there is not so if someone buys an as is car, it means the dealer is not providing a warranty for that car and as soon as you sign the paperwork , the car and any mechanical problems it has becomes theirs.
Conditional delivery means that the dealer is arranging financing for you but they don't have it secured at the point at sale. T he consumer leaves the lot with the car and they could hear from the dealer days later or even weeks later. When the dealer says they have to bring the car back, it's often a shock.
The consumer may have had a trade in. The dealer may have sold the trade in and can't get it back, the dealer may say your down payment is no good because you have used of the vehicle, that's not true! They do have to get the trade-in back, they do have to give the down payment back.
The conditional delivery is actually legal. But the dealer is supposed to keep their own insurance, the trade and the down payment should be returned if the deal falls through.
What a good dealership will do is they will have a separate paper that clarifies what the conditional delivery entails for the consumer.
The only way to completely sidestep a conditional delivery is to have your own financing when you step on the dealership grounds.
BUYING A CAR WITH AN ACCIDENT HISTORY
If a car is 5 years old or newer the dealer is supposed to disclose if there was more than 25%damage to the car-if they know it. If they get the car from a trade-in or from an auction, they may not know the history. Yes, it seems as if they SHOULD, but they may not.
The AG's office recommends pulling the Carfax report. Carfax is a pretty good indicator, but it's not 100%. The report should detail if a police report or insurance report has been made on the car.
THE PRE-PURCHASE INSPECTION
The best thing you can do for yourself to avoid any mechanical problems or getting caught with a wrecked car is to take it for a pre-purchase inspection. That means you take it off the lot and a certified mechanic looks at it. Often time people take it to a certified dealership, it costs about $85.
"If the consumer hasn't signed any sales paperwork and if they haven't given the dealer any money, they can take that car back to the dealership and say I don't want this car, I'm out .
WALK AWAY FROM THE CAR
If there are any indicator light are on the car they should walk away. I'm always surprised when people say the check engine light was on but I bought it anyway. If there are any indicator lights on, regardless of what the dealership tells you, it's a serious problem and you should walk away.
ALWAYS GET AN ESTIMATE FOR REPAIRS
"They should always get a written estimate on repairs. It may start as a nice conversation with the mechanic, but it there is a dispute you have no paperwork you only have he said-he said to support your case. Always get it in writing