KGNS On Your Side: What to know before buying a used car

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:46 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Buying season is right around the corner as consumers start seeing tax returns pop up in their bank accounts.

Typically, big-ticket items are what consumers are itching to purchase with those big checks such as cars, but with the supply shortages on new vehicles, people are having to go used.

In January 2023, used car prices dropped 11.6% when compared to the same time last year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Industry experts say prices are poised to rise again, so many consumers are starting to buy now.

But before you purchase, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to ensure you are getting what you paid for. Jason Meza, senior regional director for the BBB, said whether you’re buying in-person or online if the deal sounds too good to be true, pump the breaks. “You always want to do your own homework on the vehicle you want. There’s more than likely an SUV or car or truck that you’re considering based on your needs, based on your budget,” said Meza.

The BBB encouraged consumers to look at how much the vehicle is averaged for, to look if there are any recalls, and to look at the vehicle identification number (VIN). If you’re purchasing online, Meza said it’s best to visit a legit car-buying agency rather than platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

Additionally, Meza cautioned consumers to never accept a seller’s vehicle history because there are instances of information being removed. ”Make sure to get everything signed. Don’t forget about the title transfer. It needs to happen within 30 days of your vehicle purchase. Any taxes or extra payments have to be worked out. If it does carry a warranty or not, get that report and the history report as well. Make sure all VIN numbers match up because it can lead to a lot of headaches,” said Meza.

Meza said that in states like Texas, which receive severe flooding, people should be on the lookout for shady sellers who try to mask water damage.

Additionally, Meza said to beware of sellers who work without a contract and to make sure people get a bill of sale.

If anyone is aware of a scam targeting consumers, Meza encouraged people to call the police and notify the BBB.

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