If the Online Ad Sounds Too Good to be True, It Probably Is!

We all want to believe that people are honest and truthful, but the harsh reality is that some car dealers or sellers overstate or mislead or simply lie about the condition of a vehicle they are trying to sell. The idea that if it looks good it must be good is not always the case, and far too many consumers have learned that lesson the hard way because the vehicle they saw online didn’t have the equipment it was supposed to have or was previously wrecked and damaged or in need of expensive repairs. You can’t judge a book by its cover any more than you can judge the quality of a vehicle by looking at an online ad! If you have purchased a used car or truck online and it was misrepresented by the car dealer that sold it to you, you may have legal rights so contact the used car lemon law attorneys at Burdge Law Office.

Thoroughly Research The Vehicle You Want to Buy

Research the seller or car dealer to be certain they are credible and don’t buy from any seller who does not already have a good online reputation with lots of satisfied buyers. Also remember that you may have more leverage going after a car dealer for a deal gone bad because of state and/or federal licensing regulations than if you purchase from a private seller where your recourse may be very limited..

Research the vehicle history so you understand more about what you are buying. Be sure to pull a Carfax report, Autocheck report and a NMVTIS (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System) report available at ). Don’t skimp! Purchase all 3 if you are buying a used car online. If you see anything suspicious don’t buy it.

Research the vehicle’s recalls and known defects. That will tell you something about the vehicle’s reliability, even if the seller hasn’t had any problems yet. The federal government agency in charge of vehicle recalls is NHTSA and they have 4 different databases online that you can check out to learn the truth about all vehicle models, owner complaints, recalls, known defects and more.

Research vehicle values to make certain you are paying a fair price for the vehicle. They are many different databases online including,, or to name a few. An informed buyer is a smart buyer.

Don’t Send the Money Before The Vehicle is Inspected

We’ve all been warned about the email scams telling you to wire money to someone claiming to be a long lost relative. You should be no less wary about wire transferring thousands of dollars to an unknown or out of state car dealer or seller, without knowing the reputation or credibility of that person or entity. Once the bank hits “send” your money is gone and what you get in exchange may not be what you thought you were buying. It doesn’t matter if you use a charge card or Pay Pal or anything else.

Once it’s spent, it’s very difficult to get it back. If this has happened to you, don’t wait to contact an attorney with experience handling used car lemon laws.

Don’t Handle The Entire Transaction Online

If you want to buy a used car online, travel to the seller or car dealership and actually see the vehicle and test drive it – not just around the block but long enough to get a sense for how the vehicle handles and how comfortable it will be for you to drive. Don’t be in a hurry to pay for a vehicle that may be horribly different from your expectations or what you were told.

Meet the person who is going to take your hard earned money from you and satisfy yourself that they are honest and you are getting a fair deal. Be sure to ask them about prior ownership, prior accident damage, prior repairs and what is currently wrong with the vehicle now. If you later learn they misrepresented the vehicle, you may have a basis to file a fraud claim against them, so don’t wait to contact an attorney with experience handling online used car lemon laws.

Inspect What You’re Buying: Look, See, Touch, Feel, and Drive

Before buying a used car online, look over the interior and exterior very carefully. Make sure you see the vehicle during the day (preferably a bright, sunny day) and not at night. Touch where the body panels meet and see if you can feel any uneven joints or paint lines. Drive the vehicle in all types of traffic and conditions. After your own personal inspection and test drive, have it inspected by a local mechanic or body shop or both.

If you can’t travel to the seller to actually see the vehicle before you buy it, consider contacting a local franchised new car dealer for that brand (for example, if you are thinking of buying a Honda, call the service department at the Honda dealer nearest the seller’s location) and arrange for them to do an independent vehicle inspection before you buy.

Don’t EVER Sign a Blank Contract

Never sign a blank contract – especially when buying a used car online! Make the dealer fill it out and sign it and then send it to you. Only after you get it, already signed by the dealer, should you even think about signing it. In most states, a contract is not complete until both sides sign it. If you sign a blank form and send it to the dealer, then when the dealer signs it (in their own home state) the contract is often considered to be legally complete in the state where the last signature is signed to the contract. If it’s your home town, and anything goes wrong, you can probably sue the car dealer right in your home town and that is much easier and less expensive than having to hire a lawyer in some distant city or state to do it for you. Of course, you can avoid this problem by always buying only from a seller who is located in your home state.

How to protect yourself and your legal rights: If you live in Ohio or Kentucky and have a problem with a used vehicle purchased online, contact the used car lemon law attorneys at Burdge Law Office at 888.331.6422. Burdge Law has extensive experience filing claims and lawsuits against car dealers that have sold used cars and trucks online and if the dealer is out of state, there is a good chance they have violated one or more state laws concerning used car sales. Don’t wait too long to contact an attorney with experience handling used car laws or some of your legal rights may expire.

Additional Resources

Buying a used vehicle online may offer you more alternatives or a better selection – especially for a hard to find vehicle but it may also cause you untold grief and aggravation if you aren’t careful. Here are a few links for more info and help if you need it before searching for a used car online.