Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Do your research, get inspections to avoid car-buying pitfalls

Release Date: Jun 28, 2018

“The temperatures are getting hot – and so are the deals.”

You’ve probably heard advertisements like this on your radio or TV this time of year from auto dealerships - especially used-car dealerships - looking to drum up summer sales. It is a common time of year for Kansans to be out car shopping.

While there may be deals to be had, complaints regarding used car sales are consistently among the top categories of complaints received by our Consumer Protection Division. In fact, it’s been one of the top five categories every year for the past five years.

Many issues in used car sales arise because the buyer is at a disadvantage, without the full knowledge of the condition of the vehicle. While sellers are required to disclose information regarding any mechanical problems the vehicle may have, it’s also important for the buyer to do some research to help level the playing field.

Here are a few tips to help you learn as much as you can before you buy:

  • Ask the dealer for title history as well as a report of any accidents the vehicle has been involved in.
  • Have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic to alert you to any mechanical issues with the vehicle.
  • Review the maintenance records of the vehicle from the owner, dealer or repair shop.
  • Find out whether the vehicle is still under factory warranty and when that warranty expires.
  • Check online forums for any known issues with the particular year, make and model of the car.
  • Test drive the car in different conditions, including highways, hill and in stop-and-go traffic.
  • The dealer is required to provide a title for all used vehicles within 60 days of the purchase.

When you’re ready to buy, make sure you get all promises and representations in writing. As an important reminder when buying or selling used cars: “as-is” sales are not legal in Kansas unless the defects are disclosed to the buyer. Putting this information in writing is always a good idea to avoid future disagreements.

To learn more about staying safe when purchasing a car and other consumer transaction, visit our consumer protection website at or call (800) 432-2310.