Things to Keep In Mind When Buying A Car at a ‘Buy Here, Pay Here' Dealer

Limited protections and high-interest rates are among the reasons some experts caution against buying at a used car lot

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Depending on your location, a short drive down San Diego streets can turn up a long list of used car lots. Many of those used car lots have banners outside promising guaranteed approval and on-site financing. 

But experts told NBC 7 Responds that there are a few things consumers should know before they sign on the dotted line and drive off the lot. 

“Those ‘buy here, pay here’ lots are really the place of last resort, for those desperately in need of a vehicle, and these dealerships know it and they take advantage of it,” said Hal Rosner, an attorney who specializes in auto fraud and lemon law cases.

Rosner says that there are some protections for those who may have a lemon on their hands.

One of those consumer protections: dealerships that provide financing are required by law to include a 30-day warranty in case any mechanical issues arise. 

“The 30-day warranty lasts until the problem is actually fixed,” said Rosner. 

But that implies that there is only one problem with a used car, which is not often the case.

“The problem is that a car may have several different problems,” said Rosner. “So, even if they fix one of the issues as soon as your outside the 30-days any other problems aren’t covered.” 

He says he has had clients who showed that the dealerships try to stall addressing the issue until the warranty expires.

“The problem is that most of them don’t have repair facilities on the lot, they are not going to fix your car, they are going to tell you stories to get you passed the 30-days and then tell you that you’re not covered.” 

So what are some tips to avoid buying an unreliable used car?

  • First, look at the car’s history. Car dealerships that offer financing are required to provide a Carfax report for free.
  • Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle. 
  • Avoid buying any car that was from out-of-state as they are likely from an auction.
  • Look at going to a credit union for financing where interest rates are typically much lower.

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