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Tips for Buying a Used Car “As Is”

There are many different ways to save money on a used vehicle, and one of the most significant sources of savings is to buy a vehicle that’s for sale “as is.” While it may help you to save money, however, it also forces you to take on a bit of risk. A vehicle that’s being sold as is almost surely has some kind of maintenance issue with it, one that the seller is not going to fix on your behalf. Whether it’s actually worth it to take on this risk is a debatable point; you may save money on the car itself, but then end up spending a lot more money on ongoing repair work.

In some instances, though, the prospect of a nice, affordable, as-is car may be too much to pass by—so we’ve got a few tips for consumers, tips that will help you to know what you’re getting into and protect yourself as best you can.

Some Tips for Buying As Is Vehicles

Here are the tips:

  • First, just make sure that you understand what the term actually means. “As is” is a legal term, one that denotes that the dealer is selling you a vehicle that doesn’t have any kind of a warranty—meaning that if you have a problem with the car, the dealer’s not going to be there to help you with it, at least not without you paying for it. Does this guarantee that the vehicle has problems? Not at all—but it’s certainly not a good omen.
  • Dealers are only allowed to sell as is vehicles under certain conditions. Those conditions may vary state by state, but generally the vehicle has to be at least seven years old and/or have 100,000 miles or more. In other words, you’re not going to find a new or a slightly-used car being sold as is.
  • ALWAYS make sure to test drive the car before you buy it, and pay attention to how it runs, how it feels, how it sounds, how it smells… any rattle or shake, or smell of fumes, may be cause for you to simply walk away.
  • Ask to have an independent mechanic come inspect the vehicle and tell you what’s under the hood. This is really the best way to be totally informed about the car you’re about to buy.
  • You should also consult with AutoCheck or CarFax to obtain a full vehicle history, which will give you a good sense of what the vehicle has been through.
  • Remember that if you buy a car that’s clearly labeled as is, the dealership has done its due diligence in apprising you of the car’s condition—and if something goes wrong, there’s no sense in complaining about it on Yelp or on social media.

Hopefully you’ll find these tips to be helpful as you consider a potential purchase of an “as is” vehicle. Get more tips by exploring the Get My Auto blog!