Your current vehicle has died, or maybe your teenager is ready to hit the road with a new license. You want to buy a reliable vehicle without breaking the bank, so you head to a certified used car lot. After looking around for a bit, you find a vehicle that seems to be in pretty good condition. You take it for a short ride and feel satisfied with the way it rides and handles.
You make an offer and eventually head home with the title to your new, used vehicle in hand. However, after a few days, you start noticing issues. Maybe there are concerns with the way the vehicle drives. Perhaps something suddenly fails, or it just isn't working as well as it did at the dealership. You start to investigate, only to discover there are serious issues with the vehicle. In certain situations, you may have legal options for recourse.
How certified used vehicles differ from standard used vehicles
When you purchase a "certified" used vehicle, you do so to ensure that the vehicle is in decent operating condition. Dealerships selling certified used vehicles must perform thorough inspections on each vehicle and provide buyers with the details of that inspection.
Inspection reports help buyers understand potential areas that could lead to problems in the future, which can help them make informed decisions. However, some unscrupulous used car dealerships may try to use the certified label on vehicles sold "as-is" or when they have defects that preclude them from the "certified" used title.
Vehicles with salvage or flood notes on title may qualify
While many dealerships make a brisk trade in repairing and reselling used vehicles, some kinds of damages preclude sale as certified used vehicles. Even if a dealership can correct the issues, the buyer should be aware of the previous damage. More importantly, vehicles that meet certain criteria do not qualify for sale as certified pre-owned vehicles.
If the vehicle has a lemon law buyback note, a record of repurchase by the manufacturer, or designations that indicate the vehicle was sold for salvage or junk, dealerships cannot advertise or sell it as certified. Vehicles previously involved in a collision, a flood or a fire are often similarly disqualified unless there are substantial repairs made that qualify the vehicle as safe to operate.
Don't let a vehicle seller take advantage of you
If you paid a premium price to purchase a certified used vehicle from a dealership lot, you deserve to receive the safe, inspected vehicle you paid for. If you later discover serious, undisclosed defects in the title or issues with the odometer not displaying the accurate mileage, you may have to take steps to stand up for your rights and push back against unethical sales practices.