Avoiding a used lemon

WEST MICHIGAN -- If you're in the market to buy a used vehicle, there are few things you should keep in mind.

In most cases, used vehicles are sold "as-is". That means there's not very much you can do if something goes wrong with the vehicle once you've purchased it.

"If you're going to sell a car at least be forthright with all the information so the buyer has a way to make an informed decision," Randy Tiesman said.

He bought a 2003 Suburu Forrester with 173,000 miles on it from a dealer in Holland. It was a gift for his 17-year-old daughter. But the excitement of getting her her first car quickly wore off. The Hudsonville man feels he got a raw deal since the vehicle gave him problems from day one.

Tiesman feels the dealer intentionally withheld issues with the vehicle and tried to cover it up. Since it ran hot, he said the dealer paid $100 towards a new thermostat.

However, he said three different mechanics diagnosed the problem as a broken head gasket which cost him $2,300 to fix. He just wants the dealer to meet him halfway on repair costs.

"I know when you buy a used car you do buy 'em 'as-is', but I do feel it's the sellers responsibility to come forth with everything they know and clearly there was something hidden here," he said.

John Masterson with the Better Business Bureau offers a few suggestions on approaching a purchase.

"Absolutely get a third party to check it out. Make sure everything's good to go before you actually buy it,"  he said.

Masterson added, "A lot of times, a lot of used car dealerships will offer certified cars which have been vetted, have gone through by a professional and then have the report, the diagnostics for you."

The dealership's owner told FOX 17 he put a transmission in the car when he got it and wouldn't have made that investment if he thought the car was junk. The dealer also said Tiesman bought the car for about a thousand dollars under blue book value and noted it's a high mileage vehicle.

If you are buying a car with no warranty get a mechanic to check it out. Also, run a car fax on it to find out if it has been in any accidents and check to make sure it has a clean title. If possible, you can check with the Better Business Bureau for reviews on the dealership.

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