Consumer complaints involving automobiles nabbed the top spot on a tally of the Top 10 gripes of 2013, according to a survey by the Consumer Federation of
America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI).
Among the other grievances: home improvement/construction (No. 2); Credit/debt (No. 3); retail sales (No. 4); and services (No. 9).
The problem is that all too often, our car purchases are emotional, not rational. The more emotional we are in car buying, the more likely we are to be taken advantage of.
When you’re looking at buying a car, be sure to do the following:
- Whether you’re buying new or used, arrange your financing in advance with a credit union, small local community bank, online bank, or even a traditional bank as a last resort.
- Research models you’re interested in by reading the annual auto issue of Consumer Reports. They give recommendations by price point each April.
- Use sites like NADA.com, KBB.com, and TrueCar.com to get a sense of a good price.
- If you’re buying used, have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic as a condition of purchase. Both used car dealers and individual sellers sell “as is” and can legally tell you anything about the car.
- If you’re buying used, be sure to run the VIN through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to check if it’s a flood car or has otherwise been totaled or salvaged. Unfortunately, sellers in most states are legally allowed to lie to you about the vehicle and anything involving it. You’ve got to protect yourself.
- When it comes to repairs, follow my steps I’ve laid out here.