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We said it first here

There is an article about how to protect yourself when buying a car in USA Today. It reads like the advice that everyone has been passing on for years here. Anyone care to grade the author on completeness?

All very sound information, though. I was disappointed that the nmvtis.gov database referenced in the article is only available through the usual list of suspects, and we can’t do it ourselves. Still, at $4.95 the price is not high. It’s interesting to note that the author states that dealers are fooled with respect to prior damage. We’ve had a few posters ask about that recently. What do you think?

I think she wrote a decent article for the space allotted. I’ll bet it was much better before it was edited for space. I also think she did a nice job of suggesting that carfax is a farce without subjecting her publication to legal ramifications. Why she recommended getting a carfax at the end of the article puzzles me. Perhaps her editor added it?

It’s still not a bad idea to get a carfax. A clean carfax is no guarantee that the car doesn’t have problems in its past, but a carfax that flags problems is a guarantee that, at the very least, you should be negotiating a lower price for the car.

I agree that it contains good advice. I would recommend all she said. The CarFax is also a good idea, and don’t expect it to be infallible. That’s why the prepurchase inspection is such a good idea.

It’s not a bad article but some of the cases mentioned are a bit off-base; at least in my opinion.
The first one about the Mustang Cobra and the dealer convincing the buyer that the car was fine because of a clean Carfax is one that should not be blamed on the dealer. The buyer claims the dealer “knew” it had been wrecked. Maybe, maybe not.

That car was 8 years old and likely purchased at auction. Once back at the lot it goes to detail and then on the line for sale. Odds are the dealer knew knew it was wrecked or even inspected it for damage; something a buyer should do before purchasing a vehicle. The buyer had time to check it the day AFTER the purchase so maybe he should have made time before signing on the dotted lines.