Buying A Used Car


You have rights when you buy a used car, truck, or another vehicle. Know your rights when buying from a dealer or a private seller. Some rules may only apply to dealers. Take steps to protect yourself before you buy. Test, inspect, and check the history of the car. 

The Department of Justice's Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) can help tell you more about the car you want to buy and the legal title of the car. 

Steps To Take When You Are Buying A Used Car

Get the vehicle identification number (VIN) for the used car that you want to buy. You can use the VIN to find out about the used car and its history. 

Examine the used car that you want to buy. Use an inspection checklist when going over a used car inside and out. You can find used car inspection lists in magazines, books, and trustworthy websites dealing with a used car. 

You might want to hire a mechanic to inspect the car. You will need to pay to have the mechanic inspect the used car. 

Get the vehicle's maintenance and repair records. You can ask for maintenance or repair records from the owner, the dealer, or the repair shop. 

Check out reviews of the car's history. Use only reliable websites or trustworthy databases. 

Before you buy or put money down on the car, first find out what the vehicle is worth. Only talk about the price when you have an idea of a fair price for the car. 

There are websites to help you with pricing information for used cars. These include: 


The cost of owning a used car includes repairs and regular maintenance. Find out how reliable the make and the model of the used car is. Some websites can tell you more about repair problems that might happen with the type of car that you want. These include: 

You can use the VIN to get information and search online for companies that sell vehicle history reports. If the report isn't recent or it seems that things are missing or untrue, the information may not be complete. You may want to get a second report from a different reporting company. Some dealer websites have links to free reports. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes rules about car sales, including used car sales. One rule says dealers must post a Buyer's Guide for every car for sale. Dealers selling fewer than six vehicles a year do not need to post a Buyer's Guide. Dealers do not need to post a guide for motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. 

The Buyer's Guide is important and must tell you these things: 

  • If the car is sold "as is" or with a warranty.
  • What percent of repair costs will a dealer pay under warranty? 
  • A warning that spoken promises (meaning promises, not in writing) are hard to enforce. 
  • A warning to get all promises in writing. 
  • A warning to keep the Buyer's Guide for reference after the sale. 
  • A list of major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for; and, 
  • A warning that you should get an independent mechanic to inspect the car before you purchase it. 

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyer's Guide that was posted on the car. If you don't get the original buyer's guide, get a copy of the original Buyer's Guide. 

The Buyer's Guide must tell you if there are any negotiated changes in warranty coverage. Negotiated means worked out between the buyer and seller. The Buyer's Guide becomes part of the sales contract. 

The Buyer's Guide controls if there is a different term in the sales contract. Watch out for language about Warranties. If the Buyer's Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold "as is," then the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Buyer's Guide. 

Other Legal Issues

Other Legal Issues To Consider

When you are buying a car you may need to consider other legal issues such as information about the vehicle's warranty, what you can do if you are having problems after buying a used car, and how you might sue if you can not resolve issues after buying a used car. 

Other Legal Issues To Consider When Buying A Used Car

Find out ahead of time what it means to buy "as is." Louisiana law does not give buyers the same rights as they may have in another state. You only have a right to return the car in a few days for a refund if the dealer gives you this right. Dealers might describe the right to cancel as a "cooling-off" period, a money-back guarantee, or a "no-questions-asked" return policy. 

In Louisiana, the sale is not "as is" unless the Buyer's Guide says so. A dealer must check the box next to "As-Is-No-Warranty" on the Buyer's Guide to sell the car "as is." 

Do not rely on what the dealer says. If the dealer says it will repair a car sold "As-Is-No-Warranty," get any promise about the repairs to the car sold added in writing as part of the Buyer's Guide. If you do not get the dealer's promise in writing in the Buyer's Guide, forcing the dealer to keep their word can be difficult. 

In Louisiana, car dealers are not required to give used car buyers a three-day right to cancel. Before you buy from a dealer, ask about the dealer's return policy. Get the return-policy in writing. Read it carefully. You do not have any automatic right to cancel the sale at all. 

There are several types of warranties that may help cover your used car. These include: 

  • Implied Warranty
  • The Warranty of Merchantability 
  • Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose

You may have an implied warranty if you do not have a written warranty that covers your problems. When a dealer sells a car with a written warranty or service contract, implied warranties are included automatically. Louisiana law says that cars sold by dealers must meet reasonable quality standards. An implied warranty is an unspoken, unwritten promise from the seller to the buyer. Dealers can add terms to the sale to undo the implied warranty. Dealers can write a notice with the words "as-is" or "with all faults" to undo the implied warranty. There is no set time limit to act on an implied warranty. There is more than one kind of implied warranty. 

The most common type of implied warranty is called a "warranty of merchantability." This kind of warranty means the seller promises that the car will do what it's supposed to do. For example, a warranty that the car will run. The Warranty of Merchantability covers basic things a car is supposed to do but does not cover everything that could go wrong with the car. Breakdowns and other problems after you buy do not prove the seller violated the warranty of merchantability. The buyer must show that the problem was already there at the time of the sale. A problem after the sale might not be because of a defect at the time of sale. 

Dealers may offer a full or limited warranty on all or some of the car's systems or parts. Most car warranties are limited. What a limited warranty covers varies. 

A full (not limited) warranty includes the following terms and conditions:

  • Anyone who owns the car during the warranty period is entitled to warranty service.
  • Warranty service will be provided free of charge. That includes things like removing and reinstalling a system covered by the warranty.
  • You can decide whether to replace the car or get a full refund if the dealer cannot fix the car after trying a reasonable number of times.
  • To get a warranty service, you must tell the dealer that the car needs a repair covered by the warranty. An exception is if the dealer can prove you must do more to qualify for warranty service.
  • You only must tell the dealer that a warranty service is needed to get it unless the dealer can prove that it is reasonable for you to do more.
  • Implied warranties have no time limits.

If any of the things listed above are missing or excluded, the warranty is limited. A full or limited warranty doesn’t have to cover the entire car. The dealer may say that only certain things about the car are covered.

Some parts or systems may be covered by a full warranty. Other things about the car may have only a limited warranty. The dealer must check the appropriate box on the Buyers Guide to show if the warranty is full or limited.  Look for this information in the Buyer’s Guide.

The dealer must include the following information in the “Warranty” section of the Buyer’s Guide:

  • What part of the repair cost the dealer pays? For example: “Dealer will pay 100 percent of the labor and 100 percent of the parts...”
  • What things about the car are covered? For example, a warranty that covers the frame, body, or brake system.
  • The back of the Buyers Guide lists the major systems where problems may occur.
  • How long does the warranty last for each item covered? For example, “30 days or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first.”
  • If there is a deductible. If there is a deductible, how much is the deductible?

You have the right to see a copy of the dealer’s warranty before you buy. Review the dealer’s warranty carefully to find out what is covered. Things to look for:

  • How to get repairs done.
  • That includes where repairs are done and who does repairs.
  • Who must carry out what the warranty covers
  • Check out who does the warranty work to see if others have reported problems with them.

You can contact the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your area to see if they can help you solve the problem. In the Greater New Orleans area, the BBB number is 504-581-6222.

The Louisiana Used Motor Vehicle Commission “LUMVC” is responsible for licensing and regulating independent used car dealers. The LUMVC also investigates complaints about used motor vehicle sales, auctions, crushers, automotive dismantlers, rent with the option to purchase, daily rentals, and used parts and accessories.

The LUMVC only covers dealerships. The LUMVC does not cover sales between individuals.

How do I file a complaint with LUMVC?

You can call the office at 800-256-2977. Or you can fill out a complaint form found at:

The top of this form has information on where to send it to. Or you can file a LUMVC complaint online at:

Yes, you can sue.  If you paid $5,000 or less for the car, you could sue the seller in Small Claims Court. For most parishes, Small Claims Court is in the Justice of the Peace Court.

Last Review and Update: Jan 05, 2023
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