Consumer Rights for Buying a Used Car

Next to your home, your vehicle is probably your most valuable possession. Not only do you put a lot of money into your car, but you also rely on it to get you to work and to run errands--and to keep your family safe. With such an important investment, you want to make sure you get your money's worth, and to do that, you need to know your rights.
Before You Buy
Every state has different laws that govern selling a car, and it's your responsibility to educate yourself. You can usually find this information on your state attorney general's website.
Buyer's Guide Sticker
All cars sold at dealerships must have buyer's guide stickers clearly on the windows of each car. By law, they must accurately reflect the condition of the vehicle and any condition under which it is sold. If a dealer does not disclose information, walk away. There are plenty who will.
A buyer's guide sticker states whether the car is being sold "as is" or with a limited or full warranty. Some states don't recognize "as is" sales and assume an implied warranty that gives you limited protection. It's a good idea to get complete details on what is covered and for how long. Getting a car inspection and a vehicle report further protects you.
Price and Financing
There are few laws that protect you regarding price and financing, so shop around before signing a contract. Services such as Kelley Blue Book offer free information on vehicle values. Depending on your credit rating, banks and dealerships might offer low-interest loans without extra penalties.
After You Buy
The right to cancel within three days of purchase doesn't apply to most car dealerships, so choose wisely before you commit. If you find that your car was sold with problems, you might have recourse, depending on the state. Most states have some sort of "lemon law," which can be found by contacting your state attorney general's office or consumer advocacy groups.
Federal Trade Commission: Buying a Used Car