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Seven Steps for Buying a Car and for Avoiding Headaches

A few months I sold a car to a young couple in their twenties. The husband, an immigrant, was very enthusiastic and not very streetwise. I rather liked that. Like many people, trust is important to me and I hate having to constantly have to question ethics. The wife seemed combative to the point where I became a bit scared of her. The young couple had answered an advertisement I placed. Surprisingly, the advertisement got me many responses. The price was good for the condition of the car, which could explain the number of responses that I received. The particular couple to whom that I actually sold the car, flooded me with email responses and I was forced to email them back promptly. I guess I wanted to sell my car to someone whom I thought wanted it. It was a bit difficult to part with the car. 

I clearly realized that he wanted the car so I made an appointment with him to come and see the car. The potential buyer came in with his wife and as to tale the car for a test drive. As non-car dealer, my insurance does not cover test drivers so I sort of restricted the area where he could take the car when I agreed to let him test drive the car. It was a sell. 

When it came to paying me, the wife became a bit belligerent. She did not trust me. Of course, she later confided that she and her husband tried to purchase a car from a private seller and got ripped off; a story from which many of us can learn. “You should have called the police and filed a complaint,” I told her after she told me how someone who tried to sell them a car swindled them out of their money. 

This poor woman, after hearing her story, I understood why she became defensive when I offered to keep the car until she and her husband could go to DMV to register it and get plates. There is no way in this universe that I was about to let them drive away with my plates still attached to the car. I may not be a genius, but even I know that it’s not rational to sell the car with my plates still attached to it. By then, I had signed over the title to them, so, literally, the car was theirs at that point. 

Somehow, I began to wish that I had met her a few weeks earlier. There is a lot that I could have learned from her experience. Had I had a chance to learn from her, I would have been able to prevent a very long and unpleasant episode with a car dealer that forced me to get a couple of government agencies involved, to make hundreds of phone calls, caused me to age premature, forcing me to go gray sooner that nature intended, spend money and time that I will never again see. 

To make a long and avoidable story short, when purchasing a car from a used car dealer, the following are the recipes to avoid headaches: 

1. Make that the car dealer has the title (it is a must that you see the title and that it is the seller’s name before you buy the car)

2. State sales tax (make sure you have a copy of the sales tax that the dealer collects from you serving as agent of your state department of revenue)

3. Make sure that you have a copy of the receipt of the fees you paid for registration, title and plates that the dealer collects as agent of your state DMV

4. Check your temporary or metal plate and make sure that they are from the states in which the dealer does business

5. Make sure that the odometer reads the exact mileage as the dealer writes in the receipt

6. Make sure that the VIN # in the car matches the one written in the title and whatever receipt that the car dealer gives you

7. Anything else that you can think of that will help you from being defrauded. 

Should you find someone a subject of this type of fraud, file a complaint with your state DMV(Department of Motor Vehicle), and the DMV Secretary of State Police (DMV SOS Police), File a complaint with the tax fraud division of your state’s Department of Revenue, file a complaint with Better Business Bureau (BBB) your state Attorney General’s office, your District Attorney’s office and don’t be shy about contacting your local representatives, your state senator and anyone who will help protect your rights. 

While no one should have to go through so much to protect their rights, but at times, it becomes necessary. There’s too much fraud and you don’t have to accept it. Fight for your rights and if anyone threatens to silence you, let the world know.