Dear Used Car Buyer,
This information has been
compiled to answer some of the more frequently asked questions regarding
the purchase of a used car. It specifically covers the purchase of
used cars and light trucks from a licensed dealer.
It does not apply to used
cars that you purchase from someone in a private sale or to new vehicles
purchased from a dealer.
As you consider purchasing
a used vehicle, remember that you may ask to have the vehicle inspected
by your own mechanic, at your expense. You may also consult with
your lender, insurance agent and attorney to discuss the financing, insurance
coverage and purchase terms.
As with any important transaction,
it is important to ask questions and read all written contracts carefully.
If you have specific questions
or concerns, you may contact the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Office of Investigation
for information or to register a complaint.
I wish you luck in your search
for a used vehicle and hope you have many miles of safe driving on Maine’s
Dan A. Gwadosky
Secretary of State
bought a used car from a dealer and now I’ve changed my mind. Can
I return the car and get my money back?
No. While products
sold to you at home may be returned within 3 days if you change your mind,
Maine law does not allow a “cooling off” period for sales taking place
outside of the home, such as used cars purchased from a dealer.
put a deposit on a used car. Is the dealer required to return my
deposit if I change my mind?
It depends on the dealer’s
policy. While Maine law does not require that the deposit be returned,
it does require the dealer to provide you with a written copy of its deposit
policy. Therefore, it is important to ask about the deposit policy
and read all documents carefully before you place a deposit on a
the Lemon Law apply to used cars?
No. Maine’s lemon law applies
only to new vehicle purchases. However, you may have other rights
under the Used Car Information Act. (10
MRSA §1471). The Used Car Information Act requires a dealer
to provide certain written warranties regarding the condition and sale
of a used vehicle. Failure to comply with these requirements may
be reported to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Investigations Office for investigation,
or you may want to consult an attorney to determine your rights under this
does the dealer have to tell me about a car that I wish to purchase?
Maine law requires a Used
Vehicle Buyer’s Guide be posted on a used car’s window with the following
the dealer required to give a 30-day warranty on used cars?
The make, model and year of
The car’s prior use (personal
transportation, rental vehicle, police car, etc.)
How the dealer obtained the
Any major mechanical problems
with the car (motor, transmission, etc.) even if the car has been repaired
Prior damage from fire, flood
or collision which exceeded $2000 to repair
Warranties offered by the dealer
on the car
No. Except for the
warranty of inspectability, Maine law does not establish set warranty coverage
or time period that a dealer must provide for a used car. Maine law
also does not specify what items and terms a warranty will include.
This must be negotiated with the dealer. Many times a dealer will
have standard written warranty coverage. Review any written warranty
carefully to determine the length of the dealer’s warranty and the items
covered for your used car.
is a ‘warranty of inspectability’?
Generally, all used cars
sold by dealers must have an inspection sticker on the car that was
issued within the past 60 days. This is called a ‘warranty of inspectability.’
This simply means the vehicle has been inspected only for the purposes
of issuing an inspection sticker, which is required to operate the car
on Maine’s roadways.
may a used car be sold without a warranty of inspectability?
A car will not have an inspection
sticker when is it is posted with an ‘Unsafe Motor Vehicle’ certificate.
This certificate is signed by a licensed inspection mechanic and indicates
the car was inspected, but did not pass the inspection. The certificate
will list the items that failed inspection. If you are interested in
purchasing a car with this designation, you should keep in mind that the
car must be towed from the dealer’s lot, cannot be test driven on Maine
roadways, and cannot be issued a temporary plate.
Used Vehicle Buyer’s Guide says that the car is a “salvage”, “salvage rebuilt”
or “rebuilt”. What does this mean?
This means that car has
been declared a total loss by an insurance company, and has been repaired.
This may have an effect on the value of the vehicle. Check with your
insurance agent and lender before purchasing a car with this designation
to make sure they will finance and insure the car.
Used Vehicle Buyer’s Guide indicates damage to the “unibody.” What is a
A unibody is a replacement
for the frame of the car. You may want to have the car examined by your
mechanic to check the alignment and vehicle structure.
can I get the name of the last owner of the car that I am interested in?
The dealer is required to
give you the name and address of the last owner, if you request this information.
This does not violate privacy laws.
is a ‘title’ and why is it important?
A title is a certificate
that shows ownership of a vehicle. It indicates that the person selling
the vehicle is the lawful owner. The dealer will have the
title to the car. You have the right to ask for and review the title.
should I look for on the title?
You should check the mileage
and any notations regarding salvage or repairs, etc. You will also
want to look for liens and make sure any liens have been released.
(A lien indicates that a bank or other person may have loaned money to
the prior owner, usually to purchase the car, and this gives the bank a
right to the car if the loan is not repaid. The lien will remain
on the vehicle title until the money is repaid. Once a lien is paid,
it will be ‘released’ and the bank will no longer have any rights in the
was told that I will save money on sales tax if my sales contract shows
less than I paid for the car. Is this legal?
No. This is not legal.
You and the dealer could be subject to criminal charges and prosecution
for making false statements on sales tax forms.
are ‘Program Cars’?
Usually a Program Car is
a used car that was probably used as a daily rental car. Generally,
a program car is no more than 2 years old and has the remainder of the
factory warranty available to the next owner. A factory warranty
is a warranty provided by the car manufacturer that covers the repair of
certain parts and vehicle defects. Generally it will provide coverage for
a certain number of years or miles, whichever comes first.
there is a remainder of a factory warranty, do I have to buy a service
This is a decision that
you must make based upon the time and mileage left on the factory warranty.
A service contract may be purchased and will provide coverage for certain
repairs listed in the service contract. Review the service contract and
the factory warranty carefully to be sure the service contract is not duplicating
the coverage you may already have with the factory warranty.
there a limit to the “documentation fees” that I can be charged?
There is no limit; however,
the dealer has to post the documentation fees charged on the vehicle.
For more information:
Department of the Secretary
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Office of Investigations
29 State House Station,
Augusta, ME 04333
207-624-9000 Ext. 52144