A Used Car
"I cant wait to get my own car."
Sound familiar? Before you start shopping for a used car
with a teenager you know, do some homework. It may save you serious money. Consider
driving habits, what the car will be used for, and your budget. Research models, options,
costs, repair records, safety tests, and mileage through libraries, book stores, and web
Cash or Credit?
Once youve settled on a particular car, you have two payment options: paying
in full or financing over time. Financing increases the total cost of the car because
youre also paying for the cost of credit, including interest and other loan costs.
You also must consider how much money you can put down, the monthly payment, the loan
term, and the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Rates usually are higher and loan periods
shorter on used cars than on new ones. Dealers and lenders offer a variety of loan terms.
Shop around and help your teenager negotiate the best possible deal. Be cautious about
financing offers for first-time buyers. They can require a big down payment and a high
APR. To get a lower rate, you may decide to cosign the loan for your teen. If money is
tight, you might consider paying cash for a less expensive car than you first had in mind.
Dealer or Private Sale?
The Federal Trade Commissions Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers
Guide in every used car they offer for sale. The Buyers Guide gives a great deal of
- whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty;
- what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty;
- the fact that spoken promises are difficult to enforce; and
- the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major
problems you should look out for.
The Buyers Guide also tells you to:
- get all promises in writing;
- keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale; and
- ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before the purchase.
Buying a car from a private individual is different from buying from a dealer.
Thats because private sales generally arent covered by the Used Car Rule, or
by "implied warranties" of state law. A private sale probably will be "as
is"youll have to pay for anything that goes wrong after the sale.
Before You Buy...
Whether you buy a used car from a dealer or an individual:
Other Costs to Consider
- examine the car using an inspection checklist. You can find checklists in magazines and
books and on Internet sites that deal with used cars;
drive the car under varied road conditions—on hills, highways, and in
- ask for the cars maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop; and
- hire a mechanic to inspect the car.
Theres more to buying a car than just paying for it. Other items to budget
for include insurance, gas, maintenance and repairs. Here are some tips to help you save
For More Information
- Compare coverage and premiums with several insurance companies. Buy from a low-price,
licensed insurer, or add your teen to your policy. Some companies offer discounts to
students with good grades. Remind your teenager that it pays to drive safely and observe
speed limits. Traffic violations can cost money in tickets and higher insurance premiums.
- Pump your own gas and use the octane level your owners manual specifies.
- Keep your car in safe driving condition. Following the vehicles maintenance
schedule can help forestall costly repairs.
- Look for a mechanic who is certified, well established, and communicates well about
realistic repair options and costs. Find one who has done good work for someone you know.
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER