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Don't buy a used car until you read this

7:29 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Zoran and Anita Bozic were looking for a used car when they found a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu.

"It was in excellent shape sold as new," said Zoran Bozic.

Expecting their first child, the Bozics wanted a vehicle that was safe and reliable.

"We did a visual inspection," Zoran said, "but we also purchased a Carfax to be sure."

The Bozics said they did their "due diligence" before buying the $16,000 Chevrolet.

"Everything was clear," Zoran said.

The Carfax report was clean.

The manufacturer's warranty was valid but now, a year later, their car has a safety issue.

"[The dealership] said that somebody was tampering with the module for the airbag," he said. 

The Bozics took the car in for a simple oil change and ended up with an $8,000 repair estimate that the warranty is refusing to cover.

"How do you go from oil change to this amount of money? Doesn't make sense," said Anita.

The dealership said the vehicle might have been in an accident before they bought it.

That was a surprise to the couple.

Ira Allen sold used cars for decades, now he sells motorcycles. 

Allen said when buying a used car, you have to do several things.

He recommends checking the condition of the fluids and hoses and asking if the vehicle was ever in an accident.

"Ask, 'Are the bolts that hold the fenders original?'" Allen said.

He also recommends looking at the core support and the bolts to make sure there have been no wrenches on them.

Allen said you must also inspect under the vehicle.

"There you're looking for rust, fluid leaks and the condition of the tires," he said.

Further Advice from Allen:

  • Walk around
  • Check for dents
  • Make sure the door handles work 
  • Make sure a spare tire is in the trunk
  • Test the windows
  • Inspect the interior
  • Drive the vehicle to see how it handles, listen and feel vibrations
  • Start the engine while it is cold and look for noise or smoke

"If there's an issue with the integrity of the engine, I will know about it when it is cold," he said.

Even after you have done your inspection, still take it to a mechanic you trust before you buy.

"There's so much that a consumer can do to become an informed purchaser," Allen said.

The burden is on the consumer as much as it is on the dealer when buying a used car.

Click here for more information on buying a used car

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