2006-07-14 / Community

Pheffer Offers Advice On Buying A Car

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer wants New Yorkers to be savvy when purchasing an automobile, a task that is often considered to be a daunting and difficult experience, especially considering that for many it will be one of the largest purchases they make in their lifetime.

"Before visiting any dealerships or private sellers, it is important to have researched the vehicles that you are considering.

A great deal of information exists to help consumers research this important purchase," said Pheffer. Consumer Reports' website, www. consumerreports.org , reviews vehicle performance, fuel economy, price, and safety while the Kelley Blue Book's website, www.kbb.com , offers advice on a vehicle's price and value. Also, the American Automobile Association's website, www. aaa.com , offers several related consumer guides.

Once you have an idea of which vehicles you are interested in, it is time to choose a dealership or private seller. Prior to shopping, it is a good idea to review auto advertisements to compare prices and promotional offers.

Once you have begun visiting dealerships and private sellers, be sure to test drive any vehicle you are interested in on various road surfaces and in various driving conditions. Also, be wary of high pressure tactics, and be sure all of your questions are answered to your satisfaction before entering any agreements.

Check to make sure all equipment is in working order. Make sure all dashboard gauges are functioning and accurate. Also, be sure to ask the seller or dealer if the vehicle owner's manual and previous repair and service records are available.

Closely examine the interior. Discolored, stained, or faded upholstery or carpeting, musty odors, or signs of mud, rust, or silt in the trunk or glove compartment may all indicate flood damage.

If areas inside the trunk, wheel wells, or under the hood appear to have been crumpled and straightened, the vehicle may have been in a collision. Ask the seller if they offer a detailed vehicle history report. If not, you may wish to consider purchasing a CARFAX history report. More information is available at www. carfax. com.

This site offers various reports, including title, flood, accident, and recall checks. Also, it is always a good idea to have a trusted mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection prior to entering any agreements or paying any money.

Learning about a vehicle's history prior to purchasing it can prevent the headaches and high costs in the long run. If you are financing your automobile purchase, it is just as important to shop for financing as it is to shop for the car itself. Unnecessarily high interest rates can equal money wasted.

When negotiating your finance agreement, it is important to know the total, final price of the car, not just the amount of the monthly payments. When purchasing a vehicle it is also important to consider the other costs of ownership aside from the monthly payments. Gas mileage can differ greatly by vehicle. Likewise, automobile insurance rates can vary greatly, and you may want to call your insurance agent before you purchase your vehicle.

"Even if you do everything right when purchasing your vehicle, you could still end up with a "lemon", which is why we enacted the Used Car Lemon Law," said Pheffer. The law provides a legal remedy for buyers or lessees of used cars that turn out to be lemons.

The law requires dealers to give you a written warranty. Under this warranty, a dealer must repair, free of charge, any defects in covered parts or, at the dealer's option, reimburse you for the reasonable costs of such repairs.

If the dealer is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts, you are entitled to a full refund of the purchase price. No used car covered by this law can be sold by a dealer "as is."

For more information visit the Office of the NYS Attorney General at http:// www.oag. state.ny.us .

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