Don’t walk into a Georgia auto dealership without reviewing your car buying wants and needs. It is better to know before you arrive at the dealership, exactly how much car or monthly payment you can afford based on monthly income and current expenses.
It’s easy to get swept away in the heat of the deal and end up over extending yourself and potentially becoming part of a financing scam deal because you feel pressured to purchase a car before the dealerships closes or the price of the car goes up. Better to just walk away from a Georgia Auto Dealer and give additional thought to the proposed deal, before signing any papers and taking ownership of a questionable vehicle.
Check the vehicle thoroughly to see if the actual condition matches up with the mileage that is showing in the odometer.
- If the vehicle has been repainted, look to see which parts have been replaced. Paint can be used by those who commit fraud to cover older parts, thus giving the vehicle a newer look.
- Look in the left door frame, inside left front window, in the glove compartment, under the hood, or in the trunk, for maintenance and oil change/lube stickers that could contain accurate mileage information.
- Be particularly wary of a vehicle that has been advertised or represented as part of a fleet, especially if the vehicle has low mileage.
- The numbers should be aligned properly on the odometer gauge. If the numbers are not sequential or appear misaligned this could be a sign of tampering;
- GM vehicles with mechanical odometers have black spaces between the numbers. If the spaces are silver or white, this is usually a sign the odometer has been tampered with.
- Electronic odometers are built to show tampering, represented by an asterisk or some other mark in the display. Your vehicle owners manual will have more information on this feature.
- You MUST be provided with a written statement of the actual mileage disclosed on the odometer at the time of purchase. If you are not given this document you may already have a claim under the Truth In Mileage Act or other Georgia Consumer Protection laws.
- Often a dealer will provide you with a Vehicle History Report, furnished by a company such as Carfax or Experian. These history reports provide information on prior registrations and repairs and can be fairly dependable, but if you do have the option, take the VIN (vehicle identification number) if the used vehicle you intend to purchase and research it through one of these companies on your own.
Auto Auction-A public sale in which different vehicles are sold to the highest bidder. Auctions in the automotive industry include; Online Auctions, Wholesale Auto Auctions, Public Auto Auctions, Government and Police Auctions and Insurance Auto Auctions and Salvage Auto Auctions, which are open to dealers only.
Automotive Recycler-Vehicles that have been reported as “totaled” by insurance companies may be sold by an automotive recycler. The majority of these vehicles are either rebuilt and sold as a complete vehicle, dismantled and sold for parts, or scrapped and sold as metal.
Built to Non U.S. Standards -Vehicle previously registered or titled outside of the U.S., these vehicles may not meet U.S. safety and emissions standards, proceed with caution.
Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle -A used vehicles that is sold meeting certain standards, typically higher than the norm for a used vehicle. These standards are defined by the individual manufacturer. Each program has a different certification process; you will find certified pre-owned vehicle programs available through most of the larger manufacturers.
“Curbstoning”-A curbstoner purchases vehicles at volumes that require a dealer license and then sells these purchased vehicles to unsuspecting buyers, representing himself as a private seller and thus reaps a large profit. The practice of Curbstoning is illegal in most States in the United States.
Damage Disclosure-Owner disclosure to the Department of Motor Vehicles or another source that the vehicle sustained damage. The extent of damage the vehicles has incurred can range from minor to severe. It is recommended practice to have this vehicle inspected.
Dismantled Title -Refers to a vehicle that sustained major damage to one or more major component parts and the cost of repairing the vehicle for safe operation exceeds its fair market value. When a Dismantled title is issued, the vehicle may be used only for parts or scrap metal, it is illegal to re-title it or return it to the road.
Exceeds Mechanical Limits -A vehicle with a 5-digit odometer cannot accurately track mileage after 99,999 miles because the odometer rolls over. This title is the result of a seller certifying under the Federal Odometer Act, that the odometer reading “exceed mechanical limits” of the odometer.
Failed Emissions Inspection -The emissions check performed during a vehicle inspection indicated the vehicle was emitting more than allowable emissions standards and/or had missing or modified parts.
Federal Odometer Act -The Federal Odometer Act requires a seller to disclose the vehicle’s mileage on the title when ownership is transferred. Congress enacted this Act to prohibit odometer tampering and to protect consumers from mileage fraud. Under this act, sellers must disclose any issues with the vehicle’s odometer. These disclosures translate into the Exceed Mechanical Limits and Not Actual Mileage titles.
Fleet Vehicle-Vehicle was registered or sold to a company that manages vehicle fleets.
Flood Damage Title -A title issued by the state when a vehicle has been in a flood or has received extensive water damage. Hurricane Katrina flood vehicles were damaged and resold, many without a flood damage title.
Grey Market –Vehicle previously registered or titled outside of the U.S. and may not comply with U.S. safety and emissions standards.
Gross Polluter -A Gross Polluter is a vehicle that fails an emissions inspection with below-standard scores. These vehicles can pollute as much as 18 times more than a vehicle that passes an emissions inspection. It is illegal to drive or sell a gross polluting vehicle in California, and it cannot be registered with the DMV.
Hail Damage Title -The vehicle sustained major damage due to hail. In most states, hail damage titles are issued when the cost of repairing the vehicle for safe operation exceeds its fair market value.
Junk Title-A Junk Title is issued on a vehicle damaged to the extent that the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds 75% of its pre-damage value. This damage threshold may vary by state. The majority of states uses this title to indicate that a vehicle is not road worthy and cannot be titled again. Some states treat Junk titles the same as Salvage.
Lemon Law Vehicle -A vehicle with major mechanical or structural problems that has been repurchased by the manufacturer. The state marks its official records or issues a title brand for lemon law vehicles. Lemon Laws vary from state to state as to the specific requirements for a “lemon”.
Lien-A lien is a legal right to the vehicle by a third party to ensure the repayment of a debt or other financial obligation. This often occurs due to an auto loan. Other types of liens include mechanic’s liens and child support liens. If you are buying, check with the seller to make sure the lien has been resolved.
Loss Due To Fire Title -The vehicle sustained major damage due to fire. In most states, fire damage titles are issued when the cost of repairing the vehicle for safe operation exceeds its fair market value.
Manufacturer Buyback or “Lemon” -A DMV or a state agency marks an official document or issues a Manufacturer Buyback/Lemon title when a vehicle has been repurchased by the manufacturer. Not all states issue manufacturer buyback titles and the specific requirements for a lemon law vehicle vary by state.
Manufacturer Recall -Automobile manufacturers issue recall notices to inform owners of car defects that have come to the manufacturer’s attention. Recalls also suggest improvements that can be made to improve the safety of a particular vehicle. Most manufacturer recalls can be repaired at no cost to you.
Not Actual Mileage Title -When the seller certifies, under the Federal Odometer Act, that the odometer reading does not reflect the vehicle’s actual mileage. This may occur because the odometer was tampered with, broken, or replaced.
Odometer Rollback -If a more recent odometer reading is less than an older reading, then the odometer may have been tampered with and set back to make the vehicle more sellable to a potential buyer.
Rebuilt/Reconstructed Title -A Rebuilt/Reconstructed vehicle is a salvage vehicle that has been repaired and restored to operation. These vehicles are often severely damaged before they are rebuilt and refurbished parts are typically used during reconstruction. In most states, an inspection of the vehicle is required before the vehicle is allowed to return to the road.
Relocation -When a vehicle is moved from one state to another with no change of ownership.
Rental Vehicle-A vehicle that was registered by a rental agency.
Repossession -Bank or financial institution retakes possession when a vehicle owner fails to make loan payments, resulting in the financial institution holding the title.
Salvage Auction Record -Most vehicles sold at Salvage auctions were declared totaled by insurance companies. Most of these vehicles have sustained significant damage but there are some exceptions. For instance, recovered stolen vehicles are often declared a total loss regardless of the actual damage. Rebuilders and Recyclers purchase these vehicles at auction with intentions to rebuild them or dismantle them for parts.
Salvage Title -A Salvage Title is issued on a vehicle damaged to the extent that the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds 75% of its pre-damage value. This damage threshold may vary by state. Some states treat Junk titles the same as Salvage but the majority use this title to indicate that a vehicle is not road worthy and cannot be titled again in that state. The following eleven states also use Salvage titles to identify stolen vehicles – AZ, FL, GA, IL, MD, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OK and OR.
Scrapped-Vehicles that have been dismantled and/or crushed, these should not return to the road.
Structural / Frame Damage -In most cases, a vehicle is inspected for structural or frame damage, depending on the body design, after an accident or other incident. All levels of accidents from minor to severe can cause structural / frame damage and in most cases it can be repaired.Having a structural inspection before purchase is recommended.
Title Issued-A state issues a title to provide a vehicle owner with proof of ownership. Each title has a unique number. Each title or registration record on a CARFAX report does not necessarily indicate a change in ownership. In Canada, a registration and bill of sale are used as proof of ownership.
Title Washing-Title Washing is the process through which a vehicle’s title is altered to conceal information that would normally be included. This can be accomplished by either physically altering printed documents or reapplying for a title without disclosing its prior history.
Total Loss Vehicle -An insurance or fleet company declares a vehicle a total loss when a claim exceeds 75% of its pre-damage value or if the vehicle is stolen and not recovered. This damage threshold varies by company. These companies typically take possession and obtain the title. Not all total loss vehicles result in a DMV-reported branded title. This may occur when an insurance company’s definition of a total loss is different than the state DMV’s definition for a branded title or when the owner of the vehicle is a self-insured company, like a fleet or rental company.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) -This 17 character number is unique to each vehicle. It identifies characteristics of the vehicle, including manufacturer, year, model, body, engine specifications, and serial number.