Resources for Car Buyers
Look up Safety Recalls
Be sure to ALWAYS check the safety recall status of any car before you buy. If it has a safety recall pending, it could KILL you and your passengers. It's basically a ticking time bomb. Don't buy it until AFTER the recall repairs have been performed. People have been killed or seriously injured within hours or days of buying a car with safety defects that led to a recall. According to Carfax, there are 36 million vehicles on the road today that have unrepaired safety recalls. Typical problems that trigger safety recalls:
- brakes that fail
- axles that fall apart
- vehicles that burst into flames without warning
- air bags that explode when there's no crash
- steering loss
- cars that die in traffic
- seat belts that don't work
Also visit this site to find out whether the car you own now has a recall that was never fixed. All it takes is the Vehicle Identification Number. That's on the dashboard, and also on a sticker on the driver's door jamb. Or if you already own the car, it's on your registration and also on your car insurance documents.
TOP TWELVE TIPS FOR BUYING A USED CAR
Save thousands of dollars
Get a better, safer car
Avoid common auto dealer scams
To make sure that your hard earned money buys you a car that is safe and that you can feel assured is a good value for the money you spent, follow these guidelines so that you can be prepared before you sign that bill of sale.
How to buy a new or used car without getting ripped off:
Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety photo.
Get auto safety information:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Find out
about vehicle safety recalls. Get advice about safer cars for teenagers. Check crash tests results. Learn
about how to properly secure child safety seats. Get technical service bulletins from auto manufacturers
that document common problems. File a safety complaint.
Search vehicle history:
Don't get stuck with an unsafe rebuilt wreck. Check here before you
buy. The U.S. Department of Justice established this database to provide lifesaving information about
cars so severely damaged they were "totaled" by insurance companies. This is the most important
used car database, and it's also the least expensive. No other database has the same information.
Note: Even if a car has a "clean" vehicle history report, get it inspected by a trusted technician and
body shop before you agree to buy it, and take it for a test drive. An online check is only the first step.
Find a consumer attorney:
The National Association of Consumer Attorneys lists pro-consumer
attorneys by state and area of expertise. Many are willing to talk with consumers for free and give you
some idea what your rights are. Be sure to ask them if they will represent you on a contingency basis,
which makes getting legal help more affordable and less risky for you. Many consumer protection laws
provide for you to get your attorneys fees paid by the business that harmed you, if/when you win.
C.A.R.S. archive photo.
Find a reliable mechanic:
National Public Radio's Car Talk's Mechanics Files is a great place to find a skilled auto technician who gets rave reviews. Look here before you go car shopping, to find auto experts who will give cars a thorough inspection before you buy. You're going to need a reliable
mechanic anyway. Shop for the mechanic before you shop for the car, and save yourself a lot of money
Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety photo.
Get more auto safety information:
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performs more
crash tests and makes recommendations for safer cars. Find ratings of child booster seats. Find which
cars offer better protection from whiplash or other devastating injuries from rear-end collisions. Learn
which cars have energy-absorbing bumpers that can save you thousands in repair costs.
Avoid cancer hazard related to auto repairs:
Consumers, auto repair technicians, car enthusiasts, and anyone who does their own auto repairs -- especially brake repairs -- are at risk of contracting Mesothelioma cancer -- as a result of asbestos exposure. For important information about how to protect yourself and your family, please visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, at:
For California Consumers ONLY
California offers a low-cost auto insurance program that makes driving legally in California more affordable for lower income car owners.
To find out whether your state offers a similar deal, visit the website for the Department of Insurance in your state.