submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency
Q. I have a child who just graduated high school this past June. She will be heading off to college in the fall and I want to make sure she has a reliable car. However, I don’t have the money to buy her a new car. I know there isn’t a used car lemon law in Pennsylvania so I’m really worried about being taken advantage of. Can you give me some ideas on purchasing a used car? N.L., Levittown
A. Even a used car can be an expensive endeavor, but if you do some homework and shop around you can save yourself a lot of money and aggravation in the long run. The first thing to do is decide how much money you can afford and don’t allow yourself to be talked into spending more by some sales person. Go to several reputable dealerships to check out what they have to offer. When you have found a car that you may be interested in there are a few quick items that you can look at right off the bat.
Look for rust on the exterior, poor suspension, and functionality of seatbelts, locks and windows. Take the car for a test drive, paying close attention to the brakes, acceleration and alignment. Also, check to make sure the front seats move up and back, etc. Look at what kind of mileage the car has.
If all this looks good to you it would be in your best interest to take the car to an independent mechanic for a mechanical and safety inspection. If the dealer will not allow you to take the car to a mechanic you may want to bring the mechanic to the dealership. If the dealer won’t allow that either, you should be leery of what the dealer may be trying to hide and move to another dealership. Another thing to be leery of is the pressure tactics. Don’t be talked into buying a car without fully checking into the car.
Consumers can also look on www.carfax.com to get the history on a particular used car. Also, call Bucks County Consumer Protection at 1-800-942-2669 or 215-348-7442 to check on a particular dealership.