(KMOV) – If you are considering buying a used car, the Better Business Bureau has a warning.
Last year, there were 13,000 complaints about dealer rip-offs – and in the St. Louis area alone, there were 1,300 complaints.
The BBB says many people are simply being taken advantage of because they are not educated about the dangers.
A new study looked at used car dealers exclusively – not franchised auto dealers, but locally-owned used car lots.
In many cases, those lots cater to people with “less than perfect credit,” or no credit at all. And researchers say many people are being taken advantage of on a regular basis.
The BBB says that many buyers are too trusting of used car lots – they purchase the cars, then they break down.
The study found many dealers fail to even display buyer’s guides, although it’s required by the Federal Trade Commission.
The top local offenders in the past three years are:
1. American Motors (Metro East), 126 complaints
2. Car Credit City (Bridgeton), 64 complaints
3. Insta Credit Auto Mart (Collinsville, O’Fallon, Mo.), 52 complaints
4. A&E Auto Sales (Cahokia), 50 complaints
Ken Fults, owner of American Motors, says those complaints need to be put in perspective. He says complaints are not unusual considering the thousands of cars sold.
He also says it wouldn’t make sense for him to sell mechanically flawed cars on purpose because most of his buyers put little money down and make monthly payments.
To protect consumers, the BBB says that buyers can do three things to protect themselves:
1. Understand what “As-is” means
2. Don’t rely on verbal promises from a dealer
3. Get the car checked by an independent mechanic before buying