Automobile Sales, Service & Finance : Consumer Assistance Program : University of Vermont

University of Vermont

Consumer Hotline:  Toll Free In VT (800) 649-2424 or (802) 656-3183

cars
For more information about purchasing a car, visit our FAQ's page on Buying a Car

Do you have a lemon?
Vermont's Motor Vehicle Lemon Law
Helpful Auto Info

Arbitration-VT Lemon Law
CAP-VT Lemon Law
Repossession
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Recalls

Check to see if you own a vehicle needing recall repairs
                 
Emissions Warranty Info

Want to know more about your emissions warranty?Check out these links:

Vehicle Emissions Warranty Explained

Vermont vehicles w/ 15yr emmissions warranty

Vehicle Purchase and Repair

For most consumers, a car is one of your most significant investments.  Unlike other investments, however, cars cost money over time; most do not appreciate in value, and repair and maintenance costs can be substantial.  There are steps you can take to make sure you get the most value out of your vehicle purchase or repair.

Avoid car purchase pitfalls:

  • Before you sign anything, review the sales contract carefully.  Make sure it is the right vehicle, at the price and terms you negotiated.  Once you sign a contract, you have committed to purchase the car.  There is no time period during which you can return a car once you sign the contract.
  • Understand the financing terms.  What is the interest rate?  How long is the loan for?  What are your monthly payments?  Does the payment amount change?  How much will the loan cost you in interest?
  • Check out the seller.  Ask your friends, co-workers and neighbors about their experiences.  Check the business complaint history with CAP.
  • Get it checked out by your mechanic!  Have a mechanic you know and trust carefully look over the car and let you know what issues may need to be addressed.  Also, having the vehicle looked over by a competent body shop can provide more information about the body repair history. 
  • Don't rely on vehicle history reports alone!  Vehicle history reports can be helpful, but none contain complete records for all vehicles.  In fact, many will not even have complete accident and insurance history information.  While no current database is complete, the most complete single database is available at http://www.nmvtis.gov/
  • Review the warranty: is it "As-is"?  An as-is sale means if something goes wrong with the car, even as you are driving home, you may not have any recourse with the dealer to get it fixed.
  • Take your time!  Don't rush the purchase.  Car purchases can be exciting.  Take the time to think about it and make sure it is the right car for you.

Car service and repair

At some point, every car will need to be serviced.  Whether it is for regular maintenance or a major repair, there are ways to be sure you get the most value for your money.
  • Know your mechanic.  Do they regularly service cars like yours?  Ask people you know about their experiences with the mechanic. You can also contact CAP to request the complaint history for a business you are considering using.
  • Get it in writing.   A quote for a repair is not a guarantee that the repair will not cost more.  There is no law in Vermont requiring a servicer to stick to a quote that is not a signed contract.  When you bring your vehicle in for service, be sure to stipulate in writing what services you are authorizing.   If you refuse to pay the bill, the mechanic may be able to retain possession of the vehicle until the services are paid for.  If the work is unsatisfactory or exceeds the scope of the work you requested, you may wish to file a complaint with CAP, dispute the charge on your credit card, or file a suit in small claims court.  
  • Ask about the parts and labor costs.  Find out what kind of parts they will use, how long it will take and what their labor rate is.

Last modified April 06 2017 01:56 PM

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