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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.

53 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?

        1. I have a 2003. Honda Odyssey and transmission just started slipping told the dealer and all he said was that sucks not gonna keep paying on a vehicle and not able to drive it idk what to do

    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. I am in the State of Florida.
      I purchased a car that was advertised on E-bay but removed
      from E-bat because no one bid enough on it.
      I talked to the owner of the family business and he told me he knew the former owner and the car was well take care of.
      I liked the pictures and traded my car in for theirs. I sold them
      my 2003 Lexus with 52K miles on it and they sold me a 2004
      Mercedes Benz 500SL.
      They told me to send the title to them with only a signature and a date…..not to write anything else on the title.
      They would send me their title after it was returned to them
      by DMV.
      Everything seemed to go smoothly until the car I bought started
      falling apart. They had not changed oil. done an alignment on new tires,
      there were no batteries in the wheel sensors, and no filters.
      The following few days one of the batteries stopped working.
      Had to be replaced.
      Then the convertible top stopped working when half way up…
      leaking hydraulic cylinder.
      A leaking rubber gasket and on and on.
      I am a senor citizen and feel really shaken by this.
      The dealership is a small family business and they are
      telling me that they can’t imagine these things happening.
      Can you help me.?
      Have had the car about three weeks and it has been in
      three different garages ….
      Thank you ,

    5. I bought a subaru outback last month and thought it was a decent car, but today i found out it needs 3.300.00 in repairs. Agh

    6. If i test drive an used as is car and didn’t have any noises and drove fine and decided to buy it, but the next day white smoke was coming out of the tail pipes do I have the right to take it back to the dealer the next day.

    7. What if u buy used car and lose job cant make payments willfully take car there to return and they won’t take back ..but threaten every day to repo…? I was honest and nice

    8. Help me out then, I purchase a 2010 Impala April 8th from a dealership not sure if it was as is but I think it didn’t have a warranty on it same day 30 mins after driving off of lot check engine light came on pressure tire sensors came on plus oil and coolant light pull over at a racetrack car was completely empty so I emailed and called dealership no answer til that Monday the 10th then he told me to bring it back Friday 14th but I return the car that Thursday 13th he agreed to fix it and stated I’ll have to help out with the expense I ask for a refund instead he said the state of Florida its no refund but the car have 7 codes that show up all engine problem at the merchanic shop I took it to also Advance auto and Auto Zone and I contacted him same day by phone and email also he repeatedly told me and a friend that it was a great car we drove it like 20 mins no problems as soon as I left to head home I had several problems after taking it to AMMCO transmission they told me I’ll have problem after problem and he sold me a bad car I don’t know what to do I haven’t had that car but 5 days and it’s been in the dealership company since that Thursday 14th he told me to come pick it up but he lied before about it wasn’t anything wrong with it makes me scared to trust he fixed it

  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!

  18. Just bought a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox with 35,000 miles on the odometer in May. I bought the car “As Is” for $8000 but before paying and signing anything I also wrote that the dealer had promised to repair certain things, including the check engine light which came on. I had the dealer sign this note and have him a copy of it. Today I took the car into the shop because I noticed a oil leak and they said there were a bunch of things wrong with the vehicle. The oil leak was due to a oil gasket. The check engine light had been on since purchase and the vehicle had been back to the dealership about 4 times to be repaired but the light had never gone out. Does my note have any power over the as is law due to them signing it? I have training for a new job tomorrow and can’t even drove my car.

    1. I have had nearly the same problem…as is with a written promise from the dealer to fix, among other things, the check engine light. We took it in to have the problems they were responsible for fixed, and they said the light was on due to transmission problems, and replaced it with a junkyard transmission, free of charge. Since then, the transmission has been replaced again, without charge to us, since it was very shortly after the first repair, and a week later there were transmission problems yet again. They seemed to have fixed it for the time being, but it is another junkyard trans, so I feel it may be only a matter of time before more issues occur. We have had the car in the shop at least 4 times for the same problem and have documentation proving that they attempted to repair it each time free of charge to us (which I think is an admission of responsibility for the problem on their part). This has cost my husband and I lost wages from missing work because the car was in the shop, and has been a persistent problem. Do I have the right to at least demand that they put in a new transmission instead of a junkyard one, switch out the car for another one on the lot or get out of the contract altogether?

  19. I recently used my 2006 Honda Accord that I purchased in 2011 as a trade-in for a new car. This was a month ago. Today I received an e-mail from the dealer with a copy of a carfax report dating back to 2006. He is asking me to sign the report verifying the information on the report is correct. I have no knowledge of what happened to the car prior to my purchase of the car. I do not want sign it. I have never had to do this before.

  20. Hi I purchased a car there was no as is still keep on the car it was verbally told to me they do offer a 3 month warranty though. However the first time I came to purchase the car u sat and did the paper work and had the car running outside while signing the car shut off so I didn’t do any more signing of that contract which was in June so u left no money was exchanged UT how ever withing signing I did sign an as is warranty sheet bur as I stated I didn purchase the car at that time.So they did repairs to the car I came back to purchase the car July 7 I walked in and she said yea we had to do your whole contract over because of the dates and everything but she only had me to initiate 4 paper and sign one the first time I signed at leat 10 and a as in warranty this time only 4 no as is warranty no verbal as is either so needless to say I gave the down payment and drove off bot even 24 hrs the next day the car quit so I contacted them that same day waited 3 days for them to come get the car but never did so I spoked with her again and asked to send all paper work so I can get something done or I’d they could give me my money back so what can I do could I get my money back being that that first contract was void and she did not present me with a new full contract

  21. I purchased at vw gli and they stated it had navigation, I have the car info that was stuck to the window that stated it had that feature…however, it apparently doesnt. Anything I can do?

    1. I purchased a 2013 dodge ram 2 weeks ago from a used car dealer ..the carfax was clean ..I think the car was in a flood because I see the bottom of the truck was painted and seems like the inner wheel liners had been removed as I noticed some of the mounting hardware was missing and just noticed some rust on the lower doors on the inside and the driver side seat track has some rust

  22. I live in Georgia. And brought a as-is vehicle. I had the vehicle for ten days, The service engine light came on one day after purchase.Does Georgia have a 30 day return policy.

    1. Georgia does not have a 30 day return policy unless spelled out in the contract, When purchased”as is”, that is exactly what it means, “as is”. You have absolutely no recourse , unless you obtain an unscrupulous attorney who is just after your money and will lead you on and lie to you that he can get your money back or can help you when clearly knows there is nothing he can legally do. Run from him, he is a shyster.

  23. I did everything right. I purchased a “As is” used vehicle for my daughter. I ran a car fax, and I took it to a mechanic to look at it before I bought it. Several days later, the brakes went out, the muffler needed repaired, the component to the battery was missing, the back lights were out and now the automatic window is broke. One could say, well it happened after the fact, but the mechanic looked at everything including the battery but missed it along with the other stuff. Who is to blame here, the mechanic , the dealership?

  24. Hello need help I recently purchased 2010 crown victoria I payed 2000 in cash in 1500 left the dealership told me they checked everything but check engine light was still on…I drove home thinkin it was a simple misfiring upon taking to mechanic he said valve or transmission could be gone purchased as a as is what should I do?

  25. I just bought a 2015 wrx last week and just went in to a subaru shop to have it looked at, well turns out that my 8,100 mile car has had the engine replaced with a junkyard motor and God only knows how many miles are on the engine that has been swapped into it! What can I do?


  27. Hi,

    I just purchased a 2011 MINI Cooper. Window Sticker was “AS IS”. I bought an extended warranty for a year. The Check Engine light was on when I took delivery of the vehicle and the Sales Rep told me it was due to a blown bulb and to schedule an appt to bring it back for service. I did not drive the car until I came back from vacation a week later and when I did the care stalled out. I had a MINI Mechanic run a diagnostic on the car and it came back with 34 Error Codes. (3) Majr Codes pertaining to the Fuel Pump, Engine Fan, and All 4 Cyclinder Mis Fires. I called the dealer and advised them of the issues and asked why the Sales Rep had provided me with false information regarding the Check Engine Light. They were unsure. Here I am 16 days later and no car. They still have it in service. What are my options at this point? Please Help!

  28. I just purchased a truck yesterday from an advertised add that said it had a specific sized engine in it when in fact I found that afterwards it has a different engine it. I bought it as is from an individual. Not a dealer. I do have a title for it. What rights do I have? I alerted the seller and he said that he was told it had the advertised engine it and that the previous owner before him told him that it was the same engine. If I have a ground to stand on then I need to act fast. Help!

  29. I purchased a stick shift 2003 Honda Civic from a dealership and three days after I got it the clutch started dying it was in the last slim of life? I don’t know if I got it “as-is” how do I check that? should I take it back to the dealership for them to fix my clutch?

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