Things to watch out for when buying a used car in Tennessee

By: The Nevin Law Firm

Caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware, is an important principle to take into consideration when you are purchasing a vehicle. Although the state of Tennessee enacted a Consumer Protection Act, it is still much less stressful and time consuming to do proper due diligence upfront, to avoid unnecessary hassles. There are some important steps that you should take before buying a used car to minimize your risk of buying an unsafe vehicle or even a lemon.

Modern technology has made it significantly easier to do research and see what a used car has been through with previous owners. Has the vehicle been in an accident? Is it a lemon? Does it have a clear title? Services like Carfax are inexpensive and allow consumers to view the vehicle history before making a purchase. Reputable Nashville auto dealerships often provide the Carfax report to you free of charge.

Another technological resource at your disposal is internet search engines. You should search the make and model of the vehicle you are considering to see what consumer reports say about the car. Past recalls or histories of issues offer insight about what to look for and what to avoid.

Because the internet and Carfax are not 100% accurate, bringing the car to a trusted mechanic is a wise investment before making an expensive vehicle purchase. A trained mechanic will look for evidence of past accidents, structural damage, engine problems and electrical issues. Your mechanic helps ensure the vehicle will be dependable and safe and measures up to the dealerships claims.

Before finalizing a sale and signing the title, it is a good idea to read it first. Dishonest used car dealers can be misleading about the extent of damage to a vehicle that has been involved in an accident. It is illegal to sell a car with a salvaged title to a consumer who plans on driving the car, without full disclosure. If the buyer is not planning to drive it, but plans on fixing it, the vehicle can be sold, as long as the salvage title was disclosed. If a dealership has not properly disclosed a salvaged title, a consumer can return the car for a full refund.

Dealers may be slow to apply for a rebuilt title, or disregard it overall, as it requires filing specific paperwork and paying a fee. They have to provide photos of the damaged vehicle, shown both before and after repairs, outline details of the damage and the repairs and provide receipts for all parts and labor to verify the repairs were made. In addition, the state sends an investigator out to inspect the vehicle prior to assigning the new, rebuilt title.

The Tennessee Consumer Protection Act is a good last resort for car buyers that have been taken advantage of by dishonest Nashville car dealerships. However, you want to be vigilant prior to purchase. Taking a few simple steps before buying a vehicle can protect you from making a big mistake.