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Federation offers tips for buying used cars

The Suncoast Better Business Federation wants you to "Know Your Rights" when you buy a used car.

Few consumer protection issues cause as much confusion or generate as many consumer calls as those that involve the purchase of a used vehicle.

Most people feel cheated when they learn that their recently purchased vehicle has some serious problems. They feel the dealer should refund their money or pay for the repair. The dealer most often says there is nothing that can be done.

The Federal Trade Commission has some very specific rules about used vehicle sales.

If you are considering buying a used vehicle, the FTC used car rule might help. Dealers must post the "Buyers Guide" on all used vehicles. Motorcycles are excluded.

The Buyers Guide will state whether the vehicle comes with a warranty and if so, what specific warranty protection the dealer will provide. The guide states whether the vehicle has no warranty. Most used vehicles are sold "as is."

Some later-model used vehicles are available with the balance of the original factory warranty. In that case, the dealer must add the paragraph below the warranty disclosure, "Manufacturer's warranty still applies."

The dealership might offer service contracts, sometimes known as extended warranties. Service contracts are not warranties. They are insurance policies. Warranties are included in the price of the vehicle. Service contracts are purchased at an additional cost. Be sure you understand the benefits and limitations offered in these contracts before you make a purchase.

Florida law makes it illegal to tamper with, adjust, alter, set back, disconnect or fail to connect the odometer of a vehicle.

Unless you are a trained auto mechanic, the Suncoast Better Business Federation suggests that you always have a qualified mechanic inspect the vehicle before you buy it. Expect to pay about $50 for this inspection. It may save hundreds or thousands of dollars.

For information, call the Suncoast Better Business Federation in Marion County, at (352) 307-9222.

_ Suncoast Better Business Federation

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