Consumers Beware: Never Buy a Car Sight Unseen
Buying a car is one of the largest purchases many consumers will make. Although the thought of getting behind the wheel of a new vehicle is often exciting, the process of selecting and buying the car is filled with potential pitfalls. The vehicle you drive home may not exactly be what you expected, especially if it has a defect that could pose a safety hazard.
There is always some risk when buying a car that it will have unexpected problems down the road. However, there are certain dos and don’ts that can help you reduce the risk. One thing you should definitely NOT do is buy a car without seeing it in person.
Why You Should Not Buy a Car Without Seeing it First
There are several reasons why it is a bad idea to buy a car sight unseen, as Road & Track recently pointed out.
- Sellers may not disclose problems with the car: If you do not notice an issue until after the vehicle has been shipped, you may have a tough time getting your money back or getting the seller to fix the problem. Seeing it in person allows you to get the vehicle identification number (VIN) and use the number to check for recalls.
- Sellers may take deceptive vehicle photos, hiding obvious damage: Getting your eyes on the car in-person eliminates the risk that you wind up purchasing a vehicle that is clearly damaged or defective.
- Sellers may actually send you a different car than the one you thought you bought: This kind of bait and switch is made easier to pull off when a buyer never sees the car he or she believes is the one being sold.
- You may end up with no car at all: Get the car and the keys in person and you will not have to worry about the seller running off with your cash and never shipping the vehicle.
Used Cars are Often Sold with Open Recalls
Some car owners and buyers know that auto manufacturers recall millions of vehicles each year because of a wide variety of defects, many of which increase the risk of an accident. What many are not aware of is that used car sellers are generally not required to disclose that a vehicle has been recalled before selling it, even if the defect has not been fixed.
At least 40% of used cars being offered for sale are covered by at least one open recall that has not been addressed, according to the Consumer Federation of America. The defects in these vehicles may include everything from malfunctioning steering, brakes and suspension to the faulty Takata airbags that have been linked to deaths across the country
Do not buy a car without first getting the vehicle’s VIN in-person and checking to see if it has been recalled. The VIN is 17 characters, listed on the left side of the car’s windshield and on the registration card. You can search the NHTSA website for recalls by VIN, as well as by the make, model and year.
How a California Lemon Law Attorney Can Help
If you have been stuck with a malfunctioning vehicle, an experienced California lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help. A lawyer at our firm will explain your rights and help you explore your options for making sure that the manufacturer is held fully accountable.