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Certified Used Car Still a Risk to Buy

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Certified Used Car Still a Risk to Buy

Charles Essmeier
February 24, 2006

With the price of a new car getting higher and higher each year, many buyers choose to buy used cars instead. The price of a new car can easily equal a year's pay for many people, so buying a used car makes sense. But there are risks associated with buying a pre-owned vehicle. What if is defective? What if it is a lemon law buyback? Once should always be a bit suspicious of a used vehicle. After all, if it is a great buy, then why did the original owner choose to part with it?

To resolve some of these issues, as well as to compete with volume dealers of used cars such as Carmax, the major auto manufacturers have introduced the concept of a "certified used car." These cars are inspected for problems, repaired if necessary, and offered for sale with a warranty that is better than the one typically offered with sales of used cars. In exchange for this added peace of mind, the buyer pays a higher price than he or she otherwise might.

This program is good for dealers, who find the cars easier to sell, and for the manufacturers, who get a fee from the dealers in exchange for certifying the vehicles. The problem for the consumer is that there are cars being sold as certified used cars that may not really be certified. Worse, some of these cars have problems that are so severe that they possibly shouldn't be sold at all.

Some states have rigid laws that prevent cars with certain types of damage, such as from fire, flood, or a severe accident, from being sold within that state under any circumstances. And yet there are reports of such vehicles having been transported to neighboring states, where their titles can be "laundered." Some of these cars have then been sold as certified used cars.

There are several lawsuits pending in California over the sale of such cars, and the problem will continue to exist as long as there is no national standard regarding the sale of used cars. Does this mean that buyers should steer clear of certified used cars? Of course not. What it does mean is that buyers should exercise caution when they shop for a used vehicle, whether it is certified or not. And that is just plain common sense.

┬ęCopyright 2006 by Retro Marketing. Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including LemonLawHelp.net, a site devoted to information regarding lemon laws for automobiles.

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