back to articles | December 31, 2018 | Dale Peterson

Categories: Tips & Insights For Car Buying Buying & Selling Cars

Choosing a Used Car Dealer

Working With Used Car Dealers

Used cars are sold through a variety of dealers: franchise and independent dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, and used car superstores.

Used Car Dealers: Choosing a Dealer

When choosing a used car dealer ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. You may want to call your local consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out if any unresolved complaints are on file about a particular dealer or lender. Having the Better Business Bureau insignia is a sign that this is a customer friendly dealer or lender and that they can be trusted. There are stringent guidelines that they used car dealers adhere to in order to belong to the BBB.

Some used car dealers are attracting customers with "no-haggle prices," "factory certified used cars", and better warranties. Consider the dealer's reputation when you evaluate these ads.

Used Car Buyers Guide

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars. Demonstrators are new cars that have not been owned, leased, or used as rentals, but have been driven by dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals. Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells less than six cars a year doesn't have to post a Buyers Guide.

What does the Used Car Buyers Guide tell me?

  • Wether the auto is being sold "as is" or with a warranty;
  • What percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty;
  • That spoken promises are difficult to enforce;
  • To get all promises in writing;
  • To keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale;
  • The major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for; and
  • To ask to have the auto inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Used Car Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Used Car Buyers Guide must reflect any negotiated changes in warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyers Guide says the auto comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold "as is," the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.