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Come as You Are: Secondhand Vehicles and Florida’s As-Is Laws

For many consumers in Florida, the excitement of acquiring a set of wheels is tempered by the prospect of buying a used car. The process is notoriously fraught, whether purchasing from a lot or scouring the classifieds online or in the newspaper.

In a recent case, one buyer got a mere six days of driving out of the used truck she purchased from a dealer before a devastating crash. The buyer was lucky to walk away from the accident unscathed, but her truck was not as fortunate. The unsuspecting driver collided when a faulty rear axle came flying off the truck in the middle of the highway. When the driver sought a refund or recovery for the cost of repairs, she learned a difficult lesson about the law as it relates to as-is auto sales in Florida.

No implied warranties

When consumers in Florida make as-is used car purchases, there are no implied warranties. This means that any damage or necessary repairs are the new owner’s responsibility. Once the buyer pays and has the title in hand, he or she becomes completely responsible and liable for the automobile. In other words, the buyer is purchasing the vehicle in whatever condition the body, engine, electrical system, brakes and tires are in when the car is purchased, regardless of its appearance or any representations by the seller.

Used car red flags

While certain defects may be difficult or impossible to detect, there are other very clear warning signs buyers must look for. Specifically, keep an eye out for:

  • Obvious signs of wear and tear such as dents, odors and interior damage
  • Evidence of mechanical issues
  • Oil condition, which indicates how carefully a car has been maintained

Protecting yourself in used car purchases

In light of the fact that 16 percent of used cars for sale have an accident history, prospective used car purchasers should take the following precautions to protect themselves:

  • Get a history report for the vehicle using the vehicle identification number (VIN) from services such as AutoCheck or Carfax, which will include any accidents, flood damage or use as a rental
  • Enlist your a mechanic to do a thorough check up

Accidents involving used cars may raise complicated liability issues that should be directed to a skilled personal injury lawyer.

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