Buying a used car is never easy — and the process just got a little more hazardous. The Iowa Attorney General is warning consumers and car dealers to be on the lookout for vehicles that were flooded in recent hurricanes, cleaned up and shipped to Iowa for sale.
Bill Brauch, chief of the Attorney General’s consumer protection division, says potential buyers should follow a few basic steps to avoid driving home a lemon. Brauch says to always take the vehicle to a mechanic or repair shop who you trust and have it fully checked over. He says “Never, ever buy a used car from somebody who won’t allow you to do that before you agree to purchase.”
Brauch says before you even go that route, inspect the vehicle yourself — using your eyes and nose. Start with the car’s interior and then check the trunk and under the hood. Lift up the carpeting in the trunk, look under the carpeting and around the spare tire. Look for any signs of moisture, mold or mildew, or evidence of dirt, water or even grass. Do the same thing in the engine area.
Brauch says consumers can spend a little to save a lot by having the records of the used car pulled through an on-line database. Often, he says, it only takes the “VIN” or vehicle identification number. Companies like CarFax or AutoCheck allow you to find out a lot about the vehicle’s history. There’s a fee for the service but Brauch says it’s not very expensive. Under state law, pertinent information about the vehicle cannot be concealed from the potential buyer by the seller.