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Know what to look for when buying, selling a car

Image: Buying a vehicle

JUNE 24, 2010

Secretary of State Web site has helpful tips

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today encouraged vehicle buyers and sellers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and to remember key tips when making a deal.

"Because there is no 'buyer's remorse' period when purchasing a vehicle, you should know what to look for and what state law requires before making a final decision," said Land. "I urge you to visit the Secretary of State Web site for helpful information before completing your transaction."

The Secretary of State's Office licenses and regulates auto dealers and repair shops. It also informs consumers of their rights and investigates related complaints. Its Web site at www.Michigan.gov/sos has several brochures that offer tips for buying or leasing vehicles, as well as doing business with an established dealer or a private individual.

Before buying a used vehicle Land recommends:

  • Test driving it and having it inspected by an independent licensed mechanic.
  • Making sure that it has a title. A vehicle cannot be registered without one. Don't agree to the sale if the seller cannot produce a title or there are discrepancies. Also be certain that the owner named on the front of the title is the same person signing it as seller. All owners listed on the front of the title must sign off as the sellers to transfer the title.
  • Matching the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the title with the number on the dashboard.
  • Checking the odometer's mileage accuracy. Under state and federal law, the mileage for most vehicles must be provided with the title assignment when ownership transfers. Vehicles that are 10 or more years old are exempt.

When doing business with an auto dealer, it's wise to ask questions and read all documents before signing. It's also important to note that there is no "cooling off" or "buyer's remorse" period. Some consumers mistakenly believe they can return a vehicle within a certain number of days after a contract is signed and the vehicle has been delivered.

Remember that a vehicle being sold "as is" means just that. In fact, most used vehicles are not under warranty for any period of time. There also is no such thing as a spoken agreement for a warranty. Get any guarantees in writing, including promises of repairs to be made before the vehicle's sale. Keep in mind that Michigan's "Lemon Law" for defective vehicles only pertains to new vehicles. Used vehicles are not covered.

If consumers do have a complaint, they should first try working it out with the dealership owner or manager. If the problem isn't resolved, contact the Secretary of State's Regulatory Monitoring Division at (1-888) SOS-MICH (767-6424). An automotive complaint form also is available online. The bureau only investigates issues within its authority and does not regulate vehicle sales between individuals.

Related Links
> Vehicles FAQ
Titling and Registering a vehicle
> Buying a Vehicle from a Dealership PDF icon
> Automotive Complaint Form PDF icon


 




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