How researching a car's history could save you money

Floridians winding up with hunks of junk

Problems with used vehicles led 1,200 Floridians to file a complaint with the state last year.

In Cheryl Watson's case her ride died on the way home from the dealer's lot. The convertible with its low miles and a slick pitch from the sales guy enticed Cheryl Watson to buy the car as is.

The sporty sedan died 45 minutes after Watson drove it off the lot. Watson’s mechanic Glen Yudman who owns Running Great Automotive found the engine needed to be replaced thanks to a blown head gasket.

Yudman found evidence that someone had tried to use a stop leak type of product to keep the engine running. Now Watson is stuck with $4,000 in repair bills.

Stories like hers play out all the time in Florida with the majority of used car lots selling vehicles as is. We pulled Carfax reports on multiple cars for sale at buy here pay here lots in Tampa Bay.

First we looked at a 2013 Ford Expedition. It looks immaculate in the dealer ad, but what we found in the Carfax showed something different. The SUV suffered front, rear and side damage in four different crashes.

We found a Chevy Impala at a Tarpon Springs lot. You'll find no mention of the Carfax or the two accidents it has been in. One crash damaged the right side, the other hit the left.

A Chrysler 300 we checked appears flawless. But the Carfax we pulled tells the ugly truth, three crashes over the years including 2 front end collisions.

Had Watson researched her car's history she would have found it was damaged so badly in the past it had to be titled as a salvaged vehicle.

There are plenty of resources to background check a vehicle before you buy including www.carfax.comConsumers can check titles using the DMV’s  Motor Vehicle Information Check[services.flhsmv.gov] to see if there are any brands on a title. In addition, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS[vehiclehistory.gov]) is an electronic system that provides consumers with valuable information about a vehicle’s condition and history.

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