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What Does it Mean to Purchase a Car “As-Is”?

O'Connor Law Group, P.C.

What Does it Mean to Purchase a Car “As-Is”?

The used car market is extremely competitive right now. Over the past two years, shortages have significantly reduced the number of new cars on the market, so many people are choosing to buy used instead. This has led to a massive rise in used vehicles being sold “as-is,” often for attractive prices.

However, an as-is car may not be the deal it looks like. Here’s what you need to know “as-is” vehicles.

How Do I Know if a Vehicle is Sold “As-Is” ?

In short, look at the Buyer’s Guide. A Buyer’s Guide should be displayed in the window of the vehicle prior to any commercial sale, and also provided to the buyer at purchase. It is is a one-page document which will list any warranties are guarantees made by the seller. If the vehicle does not have a Buyer’s Guide displayed, demand the selling dealer provide one to you. Then, review the Buyer’s Guide to determine if the vehicle still has applicable warranties from the manufacturer, or any additional warranties from the seller. Lastly, the Buyer’s Guide may list anyservice contracts purchased with the vehicle. Please note, such service contracts are not warranties and most likely will not give you legal rights under the California lemon law.

What Does “As-Is” Mean in the Car World?

The term “As-is” is used in many kinds of sales to indicate that the seller will not make any changes to or guarantees about a product. When marketing cars, sellers use the phrase to make it clear that the vehicle is not coming with a warranty. They are selling the vehicle as it is right now, without any promises for its future care or operation.

In most cases, cars are only sold as-is if they’re used. In California, all vehicle manufacturers and dealerships must offer warranties on brand new vehicles for the first few years after they’re sold.

Manufacturer warranties are transferred to the car’s current owner as long as the warranty hasn’t expired. However, it’s often harder to file a manufacturer warranty claim on used vehicles. Furthermore, once those warranties expire, a vehicle sold as-is will have no other protection. Finally, private sellers and used-car dealerships don’t have to offer warranties at all. Always ask if the used-car dealership offers a warranty. This warranty should be put in WRITING on the Buyer’s Guide.

Buying a car “as-is” may save you money. However, this also puts the buyer at risk.

Buying a Car “As-Is” Has Risks

Warranties are placed on cars for a reason. Even the best manufacturers occasionally produce a lemon of a vehicle. A warranty ensures that you won’t get stuck with dramatic bills if your new ride has hidden problems.

When you buy a car as-is, though, you don’t have that protection. If the vehicle is fine, there’s no problem. However, if it has any issues, you’ll have no help getting it fixed and running again.

Problems are more likely than you’d think, too. Plenty of unscrupulous sellers will sell a vehicle “as-is” for a great price but conceal major, known problems. Any car deal that seems too good to be true probably is. Buying these cars is a great way to wind up with a lemon and no easy way to get your money back. Before buying any “as-is” vehicle, at the very least you should get the CarFax report, run a VIN check and a get a signed disclosure from the seller regarding any known issues. You may also want to have an independent mechanic look at the vehicle to determine if there are any issues.

We recommend purchasing a vehicle with a warranty. However, if your only option is to purchase the vehicle “as-is” doing your due diligence prior to purchase may save you problems after purchase

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