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What is the danger of buying a car “as is?”

It means the dealer doesn’t trust the car. You shouldn’t trust it either. Often, a car dealer will say, “We’ll take care of the car if it has a problem,” but then “as is” gets written on the contract. Do not expect them to keep their promise to repair the vehicle. Read what you sign no matter what has been said!

Won’t the Lemon Laws always protect me?

Not if you buy the car “as is.” The Lemon Law only applies to vehicles, even used vehicles, that come with a warranty.

When you buy a car with a warranty, the seller has a “reasonable number” of attempts to make a repair. If they are unable to do so, they must repurchase or replace the vehicle they sold you under the Lemon Law.

What’s a “reasonable number” of attempts to repair my vehicle?

Over four attempts for the same issue or 30 days out of service for multiple issues within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles is just a PRESUMPTION the car is a lemon. Most cars qualify under the Lemon Law because of repairs made AFTER the first year and AFTER the first 18,000 miles. It’s based on the circumstances, so keep records!

Beware of MVA. This stands for Market Value Adjustment

Insist upon getting a Repair Order that states what your complaint was as well as the date. When you pick up the car, get another Repair Order that tells you exactly what the dealership did to correct your complaint.

What else should I do before I buy a vehicle?

Use Kelly Blue Book to get a price estimate. In California, you can agree to pay SIGNIFICANTLY over the Kelly Blue Book value of a vehicle if you are not careful.

Ask questions! You cannot ask too many questions: “Has it been in an accident? Have you inspected the vehicle? Have you serviced the vehicle? Who was the previous owner? Where did you get the vehicle? Was it ever a rental car?” The dealer has a responsibility to tell you the truth, and they can be held liable under The Vehicle Code if they lie.

Inspect the vehicle. Carfax is great, but you should also have your own mechanic inspect a vehicle before you buy it. It is worth the roughly $45 to get a second set of eyes on your purchase.

Finally, bring the contract to Legal Assistance. They will to go over a contract with you before you sign it. Always know what you are signing.

Col. (CA) “D. J.”Thornley
Regional Support Command – South
Commander

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