4 signs that an auto contract in Pennsylvania is a bad deal

Buying a car is exciting, but getting stuck with a bad contract in Pennsylvania is anything but.

According to Trading Economics, there were 17.87 million car sales across the country in November 2016 alone. People in Pennsylvania have their fair share of options when purchasing a vehicle, ranging from working with a dealership to going through a private seller.

When purchasing a car from a dealership or other business, it is probable that a buyer will be presented with some sort of contract, whether it details the sale, the financing or servicing. Here are some red flags that could signal that the agreement is unfair or unethical:

1. Look out for overlap

Salespeople often try to push service contracts, which are marketed as protecting a car buyer against repairs that are costly or unexpected. However, many vehicles - even used ones - come with a manufacturer's warranty that covers a number of related issues. As the Federal Trade Commission points out, these warranties usually last for the first 36,000 miles or three years, whichever comes first. Anyone buying a car should look for the potential overlap between the contract and the warranty before deciding to move forward.

2. Mandatory contracts

It is possible that a salesperson will suggest that signing a service contract is a necessary part of obtaining financing for a vehicle. In that situation, the buyer should contact the lender directly to determine the validity of such a claim. Generally, securing a car loan is not contingent on signing a service contract.

3. Questionable fees

Purchasing agreements vary depending on the circumstances, such as whether a buyer seeks a loan, chooses to lease the vehicle or purchases it outright with cash. In each case, however, there are certain concrete costs, including the price of the car, sales tax and registration fees.

Buyers should beware of fees that sound suspicious, such as a market adjustment or one that is simply listed as "other." Every fee should be explained and reasonable, or else the buyer may want to walk away.

4. Missing information

Buying a car is a significant purchase, whether the vehicle is new or used. The contract for sale should be comprehensive; in other words, it must list every item that the buyer and seller agree upon. For example, a man selling a used car offers to make initial repairs for the seller. However, upon reviewing the contract, the promised repairs are omitted. The buyer should ensure the term is included in order to prevent an unexpected cost down the road. Unfortunately, a verbal warranty typically is not enforceable.

Though eager to purchase a vehicle, buyers should beware of contracts that take advantage of the situation. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with an attorney in Pennsylvania.