When dealerships buy used vehicles to resell, they often get them through wholesale auctions or from trade-ins. While those that come from an auction normally have an inspection of some kind, the same is not always true of vehicles that were traded in. Even when there is some history of mechanical work or inspections, there is a risk that the person doing the inspection missed something or that the dealership won’t disclose problems discovered previously.
That’s where a buyer’s guide comes in. A buyer’s guide has all kinds of information about a vehicle listed on it. It will have the dealer’s information, warranty information, service contract details and more. At a minimum, it will list the following information about a vehicle:
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Model year
- Dealer stock number (if that applies)
On the back of the buyer’s guide, there should be a place that indicates where to contact the dealership with complaints.
Read the buyer’s guide to get as much information as you can
As a buyer, you need to read through the buyer’s guide to get information about the vehicle. You’ll be able to see things like any major problems with the vehicle that the dealership is disclosing or if the vehicle is being sold as-is.
As soon as you have the VIN, you should visit ftc.gov/usedcars to find out how to get a vehicle history report. While this won’t tell you everything, it can give you insight to find out if the dealership has, at the very least, honestly disclosed major issues with the vehicle.
Before you buy any vehicle, take it for a test drive. If you can get it to a mechanic for a quick once over, then that’s even better.
Be wary if no buyer’s guide is present
Sometimes, small lots try to sell cars without doing the work they need to do. They might put an excellent price on a vehicle but say they’re selling it as-is. Even if that’s the case, the buyer’s guide should be there. It’s required by law, and it is there to help protect you against buying a lemon from a dealership that isn’t being honest.