TULSA, Okla. — Buying a used car is typically considered the fiscally responsible thing to do.
However, if you don’t do your homework, the purchase could end up costing you more than you bargained for.
That’s what happened to Jennifer Cirusco about a month ago.
“I test drove two other cars, and then I was like, well, I like the van but it was a little bit on the higher price range for me and my budget,” Jennifer Cirusco said. “But I was like, well, okay, that’s a little bit high, but I went ahead and test drove it.”
Cirusco needed a new vehicle and it seemed that the van she was eyeing fit the bill nicely.
The price was a little high but the sales associate reassured her she was getting a good deal.
“It says on there that you guys guarantee that the cars have been completely inspected, that they’re in good working order and they provide a Carfax, and he’s all ‘Yeah, we have the Carfax, and it hasn’t been any other accidents,’ but he still never provided me the Carfax,” Cirusco said.
Once she brought the van home and started driving it, the problems started to pile up.
At first, there were issues with the key fob, the automatic windows and the sliding doors, but then things got worse.
“There’s oil leaks, the rotors are going bad. I mean there’s minor things that I know, that I was comfortable with. That I knew that I would have to do myself, but I didn’t expect my whole electrical system and then I needed a whole transmission after a month and a half of owning owning this vehicle,” Cirusco said.
Cirusco said the cost for the repairs total more than the van is worth. She said her mistake was signing a contract agreeing to buy the car “as is,” and she thought the warranty she additionally purchased would cover any issues.
“I’m thinking, Oh, this is really good, a three year warranty and then they offered the oil change package, which was another $99,” Cirusco said.
The problem, the warranty doesn’t cover most of the issues with the van and technically the auto lot isn’t responsible.
So, what should you look out for when buying a used vehicle?
Aimee Mitchell with the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa said always do your homework before heading to check out the car in person.
“Do a Carfax report and see if you can come up with anything with the VIN number,” Mitchell said. “There’s also some government websites where you can go to check the VIN to see if it’s been flooded to see about previous owners, any car damage. So really, the first step is to step back and do all the research on the front end to see if this is even a vehicle you want to pursue in purchasing.”
If you think you’ve found the right car but the salesperson won’t let you get it inspected by your own independent mechanic, don’t take the deal.
“I would say that’s a red flag. To start off with, if they’re not willing to have that car inspected by someone of your own choosing, whether it be awful lot or on the lot, I would walk away from the deal,“ Mitchell said.
Cirusco said these were the red flags she missed.
If you think you made a bad purchase with an auto lot like Cirusco did, make a complaint with the BBB.