1. Print and save the online advertisement. Many care dealers quickly delete their advertisements after the vehicle is sold, so you want to save your evidence in case something goes wrong. This way, if you get involved in a legal battle with the dealership, you will have proof of the representations that the dealer made about the vehicle in writing.
2. Pay to have the vehicle inspected by a local dealership. Many people want to save the money and trust what the dealer tells them about the vehicle. However, if you are purchasing the vehicle online out of state, it is much easier for the dealer to unload a "lemon" vehicle on you, and much harder for you to get the dealer to take it back after the fact. The logistics of an online purchase can be a nightmare if the vehicle has problems at delivery, so spend the extra money to make sure that the vehicle is reliable and as advertised. How do you choose an auto shop to inspect? The best bet is an authorized dealer. They will know the vehicle better and have access to information from the manufacturer that a local shop will not. Spend the extra money. It is worth it in the long run on such an expensive purchase as a motor vehicle.
3. Get a CarFax Vehicle History Report. A CarFax Vehicle History Report will list all reported repairs and accidents, and will show the title history string. While the report will not have unreported repairs or unreported accidents listed, getting a CarFax Vehicle History Report is still much better than going into a motor vehicle purchase blind. To get a CarFax Vehicle History Report at www.carfax.com.
4. Get all promises in writing. Car dealers love to make promises to buyers to get them to purchase a car, but aren't very willing to put those promises in writing. If the car dealer won't put the promises in writing on what is called a "we owe" form, then there's probably a reason. In other words, good car shopping.
Unfortunately, none of these things are completely foolproof-- there is always a risk that the salesman is lying and you won't catch him until its too late. However, if you are going to make an online purchase anyways, make sure to do your homework so you aren't fooled!
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