WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Three out of four of us will let someone else take the financial hit when we buy a car. But, if you're not careful, buying used could mean buying someone else's problems.
Most of the complaints that come into our WUSA 9 Call For Action team are about that very issue. So here's a "heads up" about something that could save you money.
Two of our viewers learned a painful lesson about what can happen if you're not given the full story about a potential set of wheels.
A Virginia used car lot sells a local man a truck for $5,000. But by the time he fixed all that ailed it, he was out of $10,000! And, a Maryland woman bought a used minivan and was told her car would pass inspection. It might, IF she spends thousands more to repair all the problems that surfaced once she drove it off the lot.
Auto expert and author of "The Car Book" Jack Gillis tells us you can find a reliable used car, but you should avoid those "buy here, pay here" lots. Gillis says you should consider buying from a large, national chain. And, if you work out financing with your credit union or bank, Gillis says it will always be less expensive.
Before you exchange any money, have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle.
Gillis says a legitimate shop will let you take that vehicle to an independent mechanic. And, if they won't allow that to happen, walk away.
Watch out for flood impacted cars too. They can also end up on used car lots. Gillis offers these steps to protect yourself.
*Open up the trunk and pull up the padding to see if there are any signs of moisture.
*Look for discoloration on door panels or inside the engine compartment.
*If you see anything that looks suspicious, walk away.
And, if you've got a Consumer problem that you just can't fix - contact our WUSA 9 Call For Action team. You can file an online complaint here, or call our hotline at 301-652-HELP (4357).
Written by Lesli Foster
WUSA9 and wusa9.com