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Should I Buy a Car Online

Should I Buy a Car Online

Common sense is your best friend when buying cars online.  Although there are some inherent risks, using a verified and trusted auto trade and selling website will substantially cut down on the risks of buying a car online.  Knowledge of yours state’s lemons laws will be useful before proceeding to search for a car and in addition, researching information about the specific car you intend to buy will also be important.  In addition to all of these issues, you will need to ensure that there are no liens against the car and that the title of the car is transferred to you.  It is not easy to buy a car online, but you will find the process is similar to buying a car at a local dealership or used car lot.  Thoroughness is necessary to ensure your transaction has diminished risks and proceeds smoothly.

Federal protections on used cars
The seller of the use car must note if the car has a warranty and ensure that the buyer’s guide is given to the person buying the car online.  Information reported on the car must be accurate and truthful.  The federal Truth in Mileage Act of 1986 bans the tampering of a car’s odometer in order to make the car appear to have less mileage.  This used to be a common fraudulent procedure to deceive buyer.  The seller must also disclose issues with the car, such as failure to pass inspection and parts that will need to be repaired in order for the car to function properly.  The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act offers broad federal regulations on warranties and guarantees and will be covered in depth later in this article.

Liens against cars
Any individual that is going through bankruptcy or any other financial distress may have a lien placed on their vehicle.  This will usually be because the car is used as collateral against an unsecured debt or the individual has not made the required payments.  A seller must disclose any liens against the car and from there you will have to determine how that lien will affect you.  The car may be seized to pay the debt and you cannot take possession.  In other cases, the seller may keep the “title” to the car while repaying the debt and provide the buyer with another lien against the car.  This helps the buyer as if the car must be seized, the buyer will be compensated.  In usual cases however, the ownership of the car cannot be transferred until the liens are resolved.  When buying a car online, you should research if there are liens against the car and if this may prevent your continued ownership of the automobile.

Registering the vehicle
To have proper ownership of the car you buy online, you must register the vehicle with state authorities.  Federal law creates a national directory of titles and registration to hamper those that may steal cars and also for law enforcement purposes.  You will need to check with your state’s Department of Motor vehicles or the equivalent licensing and registration division to have the vehicle inspected.  Failure to meet federal or state requirements for emissions may prevent the registration and legal operation of the car.

What are warranties?
A written warranty is a written promise that guarantees the workmanship and performance of the product in a stated time.  When you buy the car online, it may have a written manufacturer’s warranty.  Written warranties do not disclaim the below implied warranties.  A written warranty is merely additional promises made by the supplier to the consumer.
An implied Warranty is a standard set by the jurisdiction that imposes expectations on the sale of products between supplier and consumer.  The provisions were determined by the Uniform Commercial Code of 1952.  Implied warranties that are applicable to buying cars online also place certain expectations of performance on the product, including:
Fitness for a particular purpose – the product must perform for the function as advertised.
Merchantability – the product must have all defects noted by the merchant at the time of sale and will fulfill the purpose for which it was sold.
Warranty of title – the seller has not stolen the goods and has a legal right to sell to the consumer.
What is purchasing “as is?’
When buying a car online, you may see the “as is” distinction.  This tag will be applied to cars that are out of warranty and may need repair.  In spite of this tag, the seller is required to disclose any information about defects and issues related to the car.  Failure to do so will be a violation of lemon laws.  An implied warranty that guarantees certain aspects of the product is no longer in effect once this is claimed.

Lemon laws
Every state has unique lemon laws that protect consumers that buy cars online.  Generally, these laws will specify a number of days or repair attempts that will classify a car as non-functioning or as its commonly known, a “lemon.”  Some states may even require the party that sold the car to pay for the attorney fees of the buyer if the case goes to trial and the plaintiff wins.  This is aimed at prevented continued violations of the lemon law and unscrupulous business practices.  It is important to note that lemon laws generally cover instances when the vehicle is not under warranty and information about the state and condition of the car has been concealed from the consumer.  Note that if a car simply “breaks down” it is not a lemon.  Repeated failures will be what will constitute a possible lemon car.
What is the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act?
The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 (Public Law 93-675) is legislation that regulates consumer warranties when offered on products.  This legislation does not force suppliers to give warranties to consumers, but merely ensures that the warranties are fair and easy to understand.  
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also sets up standards for companies to respond and be accountable for their warranties and creates an alternative dispute resolution infrastructure to resolve low-level disputes without the need to burden the judicial system.  This covers written guarantees, so oral proclamations and promises are non-enforceable and that at the discretion of the consumer.  The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies to consumers only and is not meant to regulate relations between suppliers that resale products.