Better Business Bureau receives calls every day concerning used car issues.

Making a decision on a car purchase is never easy. The most important aspect of the purchase is doing your homework before you start shopping. It may save you serious money.

Consider your driving habits, what the car will be used for, and your budget. Research models, options, costs, repair records, safety tests, and mileage — online and through libraries and book stores.

The second most important decision that can save you time and money is to have any used car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy it. To skip this could set you up for disaster later.

Many times consumers have contacted the BBB after the purchase of an “as is” used car, reporting they are sometimes left with a car that is unusable and still have to pay a car note because they cannot pay for repairs that are needed. For a valuable investment of about $100, you'll get a general indication of the mechanical condition of the vehicle.

An inspection is a good idea even if the car has been “certified” and inspected by the dealer and is being sold with a warranty or service contract. A mechanical inspection is different from a safety inspection. Safety inspections usually focus on conditions that make a car unsafe to drive. They are not designed to determine the overall reliability or mechanical condition of a vehicle.

The Federal Trade Commission suggests that consumers find a pre-purchase inspection facility, check the phone book under “Automotive Diagnostic Service,” go online or ask friends, relatives and co-workers for referrals. Look for facilities that display certifications like an Automotive Service Excellence seal and Better Business Bureau Accreditation.

ASE Certification indicates that some or all the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certifications are current, but remember that certification alone is no guarantee of good or honest work.

There are no standard operating procedures for pre-purchase inspections. Ask what the inspection includes, how long it takes, and how much it costs. Get this information in writing.
If the dealer won't let you take the car off the lot, perhaps because of insurance restrictions, you may be able to find a mobile inspection service that will go to the dealer. If that's not an option, ask the dealer to have the car inspected at a facility you designate.

You will have to pay the inspection fee. If a dealer won’t allow an independent inspection, you might want to consider doing business elsewhere. To find a trustworthy used car dealer or mechanic go to

Once the vehicle has been inspected, ask the mechanic for a written report with a cost estimate for all necessary repairs. Be sure the report includes the vehicle’s make, model and VIN.

If you decide to make a purchase offer to the dealer after considering the inspection results, you can use the estimated repair costs to negotiate the price of the vehicle or you choose to find another vehicle. An inspection investment prior to purchasing a used car is the right choice.

Start with Trust®. BBB Serving Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

Please contact the BBB at  or (337) 981-3497 any time of the day or night for information on businesses throughout North America.

The BBB Serving Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.