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Buying Used Cars “As Is”

What does it mean when a car is sold “as is”? It means that the transaction occurs for the car in whatever condition it is in at the moment of the sale. In other words, the buyer is legally accepting the responsibility for any and all repairs needed after the car is driven off the lot of the used car dealer. The buyer is accepting the car with all of its known and unknown problems. When buying used cars in this situation, the buyer should take extra precaution to examine and check the background information to find the best used car to buy. If anything wrong with the vehicle is discovered after the purchase, it is the buyer’s responsibility, unless there was an instance of fraud in the deal.

The good news is that the used car dealer must clearly state that a vehicle is being sold “as is”. Dealers state this on the Buyer’s Guide by checking a box labeled “As Is- No Warranty”. The government has set up regulations to protect consumers from unknowingly buying a vehicle that is “as is”; however, once the vehicle is purchased it most likely cannot be returned. There are some exceptions and modifications set up by the Attorney General for “as is” vehicles. If on the Buyer’s Guide the box is checked, and the dealer promises to repair or cancel a sale if there are any problems, then make sure that promise is written in the Buyer’s Guide. Buyers should be wary if the car is marked “as is”.

If you purchase an “as is” vehicle, you can check out the Federal Trade Commission for information regarding things that can be done to the car in its specific state. Look up “As Is- No Warranty.”

Consider why the car is being sold “as is”. You should be getting the car for a low cost; a great deal for what it is, because you may need to put more money into the car to make it last. It is similar to buying a “fixer-upper” house. Just like the car, there are unknown repairs that need to be dealt with that the seller is unwilling to make themselves. Before deciding to buy a car and settling on a purchase price, think about the price of the vehicle and consider that there may be imminent repairs. If the used car dealer is selling the car “as is”, there is usually a reason for it. The dealer does not have to disclose any known problems to the customer. For instance, a car’s structure is important to its longevity, and if a car has structural damage it is very difficult for a buyer to get that information without doing research outside of the dealership.

That is why it is important to do proper research before buying a used car, like running a CARFAX Vehicle History Report to discover any unknown issues. Doing your homework on how to buy a used car “as is” will give you more confidence when shopping. Once the car is purchased there is no option to return it at any time unless it has been stated in the contract before purchasing the car. Be aware that once an “as is” vehicle is purchased, that vehicle becomes the owner’s problem. Dealers make sure to protect themselves when selling an “as is” car, and consumers should do the same.

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28 thoughts on “Buying Used Cars “As Is””

  1. Here in Saskatchewan I believe you have buyers protection when you purchase a vehicle. A 30 day grace period where someone can return the goods. However, once you’ve purchased a car from someone good luck finding them to get your refund as well you’d have to take them to small claims court. Not sure if it would be worth it.

    Cool post,


  2. I would always be cautious about purchasing a car ‘as is’ from a dealership. If they do not offer you a warranty, then there is a good chance that they are hiding something. If they are confident the car is in good condition, they will offer a warranty, simple as that.

  3. I work in the used car business and from my experience there are two reasons to sell “as is”. Either the price has been whittled down to a very low or negative profit or there is a problem/problems with the car. It can still be a great deal as long as you know before you buy. Ask the question. Find out before hand. California has strict rules about this and there are ways to make them work for you. You can always ask me about policy.

    1. I just purchased a used car Monday and this is the second time I drove it and noticed the transmission is going out….what can I do since I purchased a “as is “….. am I stuck with the loan and a screwed up car?

    2. My husband and I have owned a used car business for 15 years in PA and this is what we’ve found out…Our 1st month in business we sold and old escort wagon, out of inspection for 2 years, for $500…Customer was well aware because we pointed it out..She had a sticker slapped on elsewhere, drive down the road and her axle broke..Because we did not write “as is” on the deal we became 50% responsible for repairs…The state police advised us, to eliminate any problems, to always write “as is” on any vehicle we sold reguardless of the price or if we included an aftermarket warranty or the customer purchased it….Used is used….

    3. I bought a f250 with a as is purchase had it for two days but only drove it three times put about 50 miles took it back to dealer so he had it fixed 700 job got the truck back still a problem what can I do

  4. Wow! I like how you dealt with the issue of “as-is” cars in this post. You’re right. Buying an “as is” car is like buying a house with hidden damages. When you buy it, you’re like buying your own stress.

  5. Great …very informative Post. Buying a used car is very difficult. We actually don’t know the internal machinery problems of car. We face these problems after buying, so, we should have to do proper research while buying an used car.

  6. I bought a as is truck a year ago and I have been told a few different things when I first bought the car it was a little squirrely in the front end I took it I. To the shop and had to replace the a frams on both sides then just yesterday I had to change my hub I come to find that who every had it before me had replaced it before and two bolts we’re factory the other was a bolt was just a bolt stuck through the hole and a but on the other side I drive my kid around in it everyday I thought they had to do at least a safety check before it is sold any advise

  7. Bought a 2005 Chevy Venture (Ameri Van Conversion) with about 31,000 miles on 12/12/14 “As is No Warranty” Thought it was good because of low miles. Since then in May van overheated. Was all rusted and gunky inside radiator and bypass hose burst. Think raidator should have been checked.
    Repairs cost 405.00 Also Right rear air ride shock cost $598. to replace.
    Should n’t they have at least checked the radiator. It did not get like that in only five months I have had it.

      1. I bought a car and found out that the odometer was rolled back over a 150000 miles. The dealership is telling me that they will refund the money but not the taxes. I never drove the car off the lot. Can they do this?

  8. I bought a car from a dealer that didn’t tell me the mileage thing did not work he says it isn’t because of the year of the car but he never notified me of it I brought it to his attention told him I wasn’t happy he told me to bring the car back and we give me my money back now he’s trying to change is mine what can I do

  9. I ran a vin on carfax and it says 23 reports on a vehicle I’m thinking about buying. Is that an excessive amount ? I didn’t buy the report.

    1. No it really doesn’t matter the number of reports the most important thing is what the reports contain i.e. the services that were done on those reports. I purchased a 2006 volkswagen passat and it had 29 reports but once I got the derails I found they were all standard up keep services like oil changes, break pads, state inspections etc. Nothing mechanical or out of the ordinary other than regular maintenance which is good because that showed me the previous owner really kept up on the upkeep so told me I shouldn’t have any issues with my purchase and I’ve pit 20k miles on it and havenot done anything except standard oil changes one new set of tires.

  10. What does it mean when there is very little history on an older vehicle? Looking at older vehicles and have found 2 or 3 that do not even list title or registration over the years, our area does emissions and none of that either. Not talking maintenance. In each case the seller was not titled to car (flipping it or inherited) and did not have records…. car fax was nearly blank when I should have at least seen registration over the years…. makes me suspicious, could it be stolen and not yet reported or could there just be a car fax glitch and the vehicle is legit?

  11. I purchased a car as is no warranty. I was back at the car lot less than 24 hours. I was treated very ruined. I was informed that I brought the car and it was yours and you owned it. What should I do. HELP

  12. I purchased a car as is with a warranty, the car was in a wreck and totaled out within a year. I then found out that the car had major structural damage that was not disclosed to me prior to buying. What can I do on this matter.

  13. Bought a car from a Chevy dealer it broke down on the lot and they have agreed to fix it can I back out since I never took possession of the vehicle?

  14. Hi I bought a 2005 chyrysler TC at 13700 miles for $3999 as is the car was Car Fax and they didn’t tell me about the radiator leaking It wasn’t leaking until the next day I notice because the van was smoking not sure because temptures were warmer the reason I realize the leak but I took the van back the next day and they had it since I received a call today and the mechanic at the dealership stated he put stop leak and it wouldn’t stop leaking and it cost 600 to be replace I had the van for 1 day what should I do

  15. I bought a 08 buick enclave at a dealership in October of 2015, it was a used vehicle and it had high miles. There was no warranty offered because it was used. We have put less than 5k on it since we have had it and now the wave plate (transmission clutch) has gone out. I’ve done ALOT of research and this has been a problem with all GM suv’s. Is this my expense to fix or should dealership be will do help out. I’ve been told this has been recalled but dealership says it hasn’t. It’s sickening to have a car for 4 months and be facing $4000.00 repair.

  16. I was looking at a Car Fax report and after 60,000 miles of service reports, etc; the car became “exempt from odometer reading”. What does that mean?

    1. Hi Tony,

      In most states, odometer law requires that vehicles less than 10 years old report odometer readings. Vehicles over 10 years old are often exempt from this requirement and do not need to provide odometer readings.

  17. I bought a car chevrolet equinox 2006 110.00 miles 2 weeks ago cash the dealer guy told me it doesn’t have any problem but it have lot of problems i called them to fix it but they can’t do it because they said i pay cash why!

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