Better Business Bureau: Always get car warranties in writing

July 4, 2013 

The phone number - (575) 613-7467 - rang through on my cellular phone.

When I answered, the robo call message said Press 1 (DO NOT try this, I'm a trained professional). So, I did. The response was a pitch about a car warranty available on "your make and model" of car available to "only you."

I waited on the phone line until a message came on saying all lines are busy, please leave a call back number.

When I called the number back, I heard a prerecorded descriptor that said this was a telemarketing call, and that I needed to hold for the next available operator.

So, while on hold, I wondered about what warranty I might need for my car. This is a good time to bring transparency to the used car-buying process.

BBB receives three to four calls a day from people buying cars. As such, it's good to know that in Idaho, dealers are not required by law to give used car buyers a three-day right to cancel. The right to return the car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers. Before you buy from a dealer, ask about the dealer's return policy, get it in writing and read it carefully.

The dealer must state whether the car is being sold "as is" or with a warranty and what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty.

When the dealer offers a vehicle "as is," the box next to the "As Is - No Warranty" disclosure on the Buyers Guide must be checked. If the box is checked but the dealer promises to repair the vehicle or cancel the sale if you are not satisfied, make sure the promise is written on the Buyers Guide. Otherwise you may have a hard time getting the dealer to make good on his word.

Generally the use of the words "as is" or "with all faults" in a written notice to buyers eliminates implied warranties.

Dealers who offer a written warranty must complete the warranty section of the Buyers Guide. Dealers may offer a full or limited warranty on all or some of the vehicle's systems or components.

Most used car warranties are limited and their coverage varies. A full or limited warranty doesn't have to cover the entire vehicle. The dealer may specify that only certain systems are covered.

Interruption: "Amber at Warranty Services, thank you for waiting."

I listen intently as she explained that "my car" was able to receive a warranty. Then she asked: "I just need to confirm the make, model and year of your car."

I responded by asking: "What do your records show?"

Silence and then, disconnect. The final lesson for used car buyers: If offered an add-on warranty by a third party, proceed carefully. Check the company's reputation at http://snake-river.bbb.org/Find-Business-Reviews/. Never give out personal or financial information to an unsolicited request over the phone or by email.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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