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Should I buy an “as is” used car?

In Ohio, a used car dealer can sell a car “as is.” “As is” usually appears together with the term “no warranty.” It means that the dealer will not be responsible for any problem with a used car once the buyer drives it off the lot. The buyer takes the risk as to the quality of the car and must pay for all repairs after the purchase, even if he or she is financing the purchase with the dealer. The buyer’s duty to make the car payments is not related to the working condition of the car.

Buyers should pay attention to the terms in the retail agreement before signing it. Terms like “as is,” “as they stand,” and “with all faults,” give up all express or implied warranties that would otherwise protect a buyer. A window sticker stating that the car is sold “as is” is also enough to alert the buyer that there is no warranty.

Some consumers are not aware of the legal effect of an “as is” clause when they buy used cars. They think they are only accepting defects of which they actually know. This understanding is wrong and is not an exception to the “as is” disclaimer. Moreover, consumers should be aware that used cars are not protected by the Lemon Law in Ohio. Ohio’s Lemon Law only protects cars from problems for the first year or 18,000 miles.

Buyers should not purchase a used car “as is” unless they are prepared to pay for anything that goes wrong with it. A dealer will not pay for repairs to a car sold “as is,” even if the car breaks down a few blocks from the dealership as the owner is driving it home. Buyers should ask the dealer if they can have a mechanic inspect the car before purchasing, and try to find the car’s repair history. To avoid big surprises when buying a used car, buyers should get at least a 30-day warranty on the major components or include a short return period in the agreement during which they can get their money back for the car if they change their mind for any reason.

This article was written by Sage Wen and appeared in The Alert: Volume 33, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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